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  #1  
Old 08-18-2016, 09:07 PM
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Default Greatest Olympian?

So, in addition to the embarrassing Lochte and his bros shenanigans, there have been some other, and more honorable, legacy based storylines out of this Olympics. Most people probably had never heard the name Leonidas of Rhodes, but Phelps finally bested Leonidas' 12 individual crowns (the ancient equivalent of the gold) this year. Leonidas' record had stood since 152 BCE. And Bolt just won the 100 & 200 for the 3rd straight Olympiad. Leonidas, however, was given the epithet Triastes for winning all three sprints in 4 straight (164 - 152 BCE) Olympiads - the stadion (approximately 200 meters - the shortest sprint), the diaulos (twice stadion), and the hoplitodromos (diaulos in full armor - about 50 lbs - really wish they still had this event, watching sprinters try to run 400 meters in hoplite armor would be entertaining). He was 36 at his last Olympiad. Bolt, if he tries to semi-match Leonidas' mark, albeit at shorter lengths and without the full panoply race, would only be 33 if he tried to compete at the next Olympics, and 37 if he tried to best Leonidas' mark by sweeping at five straight Olympiads.

So, who is the greatest ever Olympian? Leonidas? Bolt? Phelps? Someone else?

Anyone else hoping that we extradite Lochte back to Brazil so that he can spend a few weeks/months in jail with his bros?
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Old 08-19-2016, 01:15 AM
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I don't think it counts if your slaves do the competing?
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Old 08-19-2016, 01:26 AM
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Did they have doping back then?
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Old 08-19-2016, 05:12 AM
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Nero.

All accounts agree that none of his opponents stood any chance of winning at all.

Edited to add: in the classical games, slaves weren't allowed to compete. But I don't think the modern version has such a prohibition. And slaves don't need doping; you just have to whip them a bit harder to make them more competitive.
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Old 08-19-2016, 07:19 AM
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Originally Posted by GonzoTheGreat View Post
Nero.

All accounts agree that none of his opponents stood any chance of winning at all.

Edited to add: in the classical games, slaves weren't allowed to compete. But I don't think the modern version has such a prohibition. And slaves don't need doping; you just have to whip them a bit harder to make them more competitive.
Horce racing, both then and now (as with say the Kentucky Derby), is a bit of an odd athletic event, as it is often the horse(s) and the breeder that tends to get more glory than the jockey. Nero, was just a nut, and hence wanted to act as the jockey himself, something which the Romans considered obscene. He also didn't finish the race, as he fell off his chariot. Leonidas, however, was from prior to the Roman occupation, when the games were still a more exclusively panhellenic event. The games still remained mostly legitimate, with that exception of Nero's egregious mockery of the all the games in 67, as he forced all four into one cycle, and competed not just at Olympia, but also at the Nemean, Isthmian, and Pythian Games. At least at the Pyhtian (music) games, his participation may have been somewhat legitimate, though it's doubtful that he really would have been the most skilled musical athlete.
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Old 08-19-2016, 07:31 AM
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At least at the Pyhtian (music) games, his participation may have been somewhat legitimate, though it's doubtful that he really would have been the most skilled musical athlete.
His fire(works) display* is the stuff of legends. No modern artist has come close to matching that, as far as I know.

* The performance was in Rome, not in Greece. So one could argue that it was outside the contest. Still, it is a well known example of his skill.
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Old 08-19-2016, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by GonzoTheGreat View Post
His fire(works) display* is the stuff of legends. No modern artist has come close to matching that, as far as I know.

* The performance was in Rome, not in Greece. So one could argue that it was outside the contest. Still, it is a well known example of his skill.
That story is apocryphal.
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Old 08-19-2016, 02:22 PM
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Ancient Olympics weren't global. It was more of a single country's Olympic trials. And I don't think the competition back then was as tough as today's.

I think both Phelps and Bolt earned the Greatest Olympian in their respective fields.
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Old 08-19-2016, 02:55 PM
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Ancient Olympics weren't global. It was more of a single country's Olympic trials. And I don't think the competition back then was as tough as today's.

I think both Phelps and Bolt earned the Greatest Olympian in their respective fields.
Greece, except due to conquest (as with Philip, Alexander, and the Romans, and even with the Romans, Grece wasn't ever just one province), was never a unified country. It was mostly unified culturally, though the Macedonians, amongst whom traditionally only the aristocracy, due to their claims of Heraclid descent, could compete. So, yes, it was, at least until the Roman conquest, just a Hellenic endeavor. But I'd be careful about discounting the quality of the competition. Take for instance the Dionysia. That was an even smaller scale competition (Athens), yet that competition, during its floruit, produced four of civilization's greatest playwrights - Aeschylus, Euripides, Sophocles, and Aristophanes. And one of the most famous plays of that period, Oedipus Tyrannos by Sophocles, took second place, losing to a play by Philocles which we don't even have. Indeed most of the winning plays aren't extant. Arguably the greatest Greek playwright (he could reasonably even be placed ahead, or alongside, of Shakespeare as the greatest ever) only won 5 times at the Dionysia. In 468 BCE for Triptolemus - a lost play, in 447 for Antigone, in 438 - play unknown, in 409 for Philoctetes, and in 401 - posthumously (he died at age 90 in 405 BCE) for Oedipus at Colonus. We only know of one victory by Aristophanes, the greatest playwright of comedy. Aeschylus won 4 times. Euripides won 3 times. Often these men competed against each other, or against a lost master of the art. A smaller field doesn't necessarily mean one that is lacking in quality of competition.
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Old 08-23-2016, 01:44 PM
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Phelps. Granted I have somewhat of a bias toward swimming, but I think so regardless

Bolt is "only" a sprinter. Phelps has won in multiple strokes, multiple distance ranges (sprint/middle distance) and has more longevity.
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  #11  
Old 08-23-2016, 04:08 PM
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Phelps. Granted I have somewhat of a bias toward swimming, but I think so regardless

Bolt is "only" a sprinter. Phelps has won in multiple strokes, multiple distance ranges (sprint/middle distance) and has more longevity.
He does have a better case than Bolt. Phelps has 28 total medals, 23 golds. The next best swimmer is Spitz with 11 total medals, 9 golds. Bolt has 9 total, all gold. That puts him equal to Carl Lewis's 9 golds in sprint events, but Lewis also has a silver, and didn't compete in '80 because of the boycott. So Bolt isn't even unequivocally the greatest sprinter, and in addition to Lewis and Spitz, Bolt also trails a Finnish distance runner, Paavo Nurmi (12 medals, 9 gold) from the 1920s, and a Soviet gymnast, Larisa Latynina (18 total, 9 gold).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...gold_medalists

I still think a strong case can be made for Leonidas of Rhodes, but if looking only at the modern Olympics, as great as Bolt has been recently, no one is even remotely close to Phelps' 23 golds.
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Old 08-23-2016, 06:01 PM
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Somewhat tangential, but this article is very damning about the negligence of India's Olympic officials.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-37162393

Quote:
An Olympic woman marathon runner from India has alleged she was not provided water and energy drinks by Indian officials at designated stations.
OP Jaisha said she "could have died" after the women's marathon in Rio.
Jaisha, 33, finished in 89th place and collapsed after finishing the 42km (26 miles) race in two hours 47 minutes 19 seconds last week.
Indian officials denied the allegation and said Jaisha and her coach had refused refreshments.
The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) said officials in Rio were not told by the athletes or their coaches about any specific requirement for any drinks.
Quote:
"Only once in 8km did we get water [from the Rio organisers] which did not help at all. All the countries had their stalls at every 2km but our country's stall was empty," she was quoted as saying by PTI.
Jaisha had to be taken to hospital after finishing the race.
"We are supposed to be given drinks by our technical officials, it's the rule. We cannot take water from any other team. I saw the Indian board there but there was nothing," she said.
"I had a lot of problem, I fainted after the race. I was administered glucose, I thought I would die."
This seemingly was not an isolated issue, only the most egregious.

Quote:
Five embarrassing moments for India in Rio
Indian boxers were threatened with disqualification after they turned up in shirts which didn't have India's logo - a key requirement at the Games.
Sports Minister Vijay Goel was reportedly warned after some of his staff behaved rudely and tried to enter the venues without proper accreditation.
The minister received further criticism when he wished luck to Indian sprinter Srabani Nanda, but ended up posting the picture of another athlete, Dutee Chand, with his tweet.
The appointment of a radiologist as the chief medical officer of the Indian team in Rio also received criticism. Authorities, however, said that the radiologist, the son of a senior sports official, "knew sports medicine well".
Some hockey players complained that they were invited to an official function to celebrate India's Independence Day, but "were only given peanuts to eat instead of proper dinner".
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Old 08-23-2016, 09:18 PM
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Jesse Owens. Why? Look at this picture, and that should tell you why.

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Old 08-23-2016, 09:37 PM
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Jesse Owens. Why? Look at this picture, and that should tell you why.

Owens also won his four golds all in '36, and obviously didn't have the opportunity to add any more to that total due to the outbreak of WWII cancelling the next two Olympics. He is, even if nothing else, worthy of consideration. It's also somewhat telling of just how great he was that when people think of the greatest Big Ten athletes (he was a track star at OSU before the Olympics), that he is always mentioned in an area where normally, for obvious reasons, one only thinks of football stars. That's probably already a more illustrious distinction than greatest Olympian, as I sure as hell wouldn't put any Olympian in the same pantheon as say Tom Harmon or Charles Woodson.
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Old 08-29-2016, 07:54 AM
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Its Phelps for me.

But I am also one of those cynical people who assumes that every athlete is on drugs.

But in a sport full of Drug Cheats, he drugged the best.
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