First off would obviously be addressing the Michael Phelps issue.
Is he amazing?
Is he the greatest swimmer ever?
Is he the greatest olympian ever?
There are several reasons for this.
Claiming that he’s won the most medals is not fair.
Yes, he won 8 gold medals, but lets take a step back.
It’s just a matter of seeing if all athletes are on equal grounds.
Lets take the greatest tennis player in the world.
He can play in 3 events: Singles, Doubles and Mixed Doubles.
So, even the best tennis player ever could only win a maximum of 3 gold medals.
The same goes for lots of other sports.
The best sprinter could only win the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m relay.
The best marathon runner could hardly run another race after the marathon….
See my point?
I’m not saying that Phelps isn’t amazing, but it simply isn’t fair to compare him to athletes who can only compete in 2 or 3 events.
Everyone knows that the 100m sprint is the most sought after gold medal.
Why? Simple, it has the most competition.
Lets use diving as an example.
Have any of you actually tried to dive from a 10m high board?
no? didn’t think so.
How many of you have ever run as fast as you could?
Probably all of you.
So, it’s likely that most people have found out if they were fast, but very few bother to find out if they’d be good divers, etc..
The same is true for swimming, but to a lesser extent than diving.
Third. Lets talk about Phelps’ medals.
He won 8 gold, 3 of which were part of a relay.
Can you count those? yes and no.
yes, he played his part in them, and yes, he did very well, but what if Phelps’ had been born in a country that didn’t have any other good swimmers.
Would his team have still won the relay? No.
So, 3 of the medals were won because he was swimming for a country that had 3 other world class swimmers.
Now lets talk about his world records.
A world record is supposed to mean just that. A time that is faster than ANYONE else, EVER.
In swimming this is now not the case.
The cheating swim-suit! (yes, I know it isn’t considered cheating because everyone is swimming with one, but..)
All world records set by Michael Phelps with the new NASA suit means he’s the fastest of the people with the NASA suit.
He may or may not be faster than the greatest swimmers of 10 or 20 years ago. There’s now no way to know, which makes any ‘world record’ worthless (as far as comparing to old world record holders.)