The world is full of lists. Everyone has their own list on who deserves to be the greatest Olympic athlete.
Here is David Powell’s Top 50 Olympic Athletes List.
50. Merlene Ottey (Jamaica)
49. Frankie Fredericks (Namibia)
48. Gwen Torrence (United States)
47. Harry Hillman (United States)
46. Evelyn Ashford (United States)
45. Alain Mimoun (France)
44. Valeriy Borzov (Soviet Union)
43. Parry Oâ€™Brien (United States)
42. Volmari Iso-Hollo (Finland)
41. Haile Gebrselassie (Ethiopia)
40. Daley Thompson (Great Britain)
39. Mel Sheppard (United States)
38. Volodymyr Golubnichniy (Soviet Union)
37. Robert Garrett (United States)
36. Hicham El Guerrouj (Morocco)
35. Hannes Kolehmainen (Finland)
34. Wilma Rudolph (United States)
33. Ralph Rose (United States)
32. Valerie Brisco-Hooks (United States)
31. Mal Whitfield (United States)
30. John Flanagan (United States)
29. Jim Thorpe (United States)
28. Kip Keino (Kenya)
27. Marie-Jose Perec (France)
26. Dick Fosbury (United States)
25. Betty Cuthbert (Australia)
24. Sebastian Coe (Great Britain)
23. Meyer Prinstein (United States)
22. Martin Sheridan (United States)
21. Peter Snell (New Zealand)
20. James Lightbody (United States)
19. Alvin Kraenzlein (United States)
18. Jan Zelezny (Czech Republic)
17. Viktor Saneyev (Soviet Union)
16. Robert Korzeniowski (Poland)
15. Al Oerter (United States)
14. Abebe Bikila (Ethiopia)
13. Fanny Blankers-Koen (Netherlands)
12. Jesse Owens (United States)
11. Bob Beamon (United States)
10. Shirley Strickland (Australia)
9. Irena Szewinska (Poland)
8. Ville Ritola (Finland)
7. Michael Johnson (United States)
6. Lasse Viren (Finland)
5. Ray Ewry (United States)
4. Emil Zatopek (Czech Republic)
3. Jackie Joyner-Kersee (United States)
2. Paavo Nurmi (Finland)
1. Carl Lewis (United States)
I agree and disagree with some of the choices.
- I agree with removing Marion Jones and Florence Griffith-Joyner. Even though Flo-Jo took her secrets to the grave, the evidence of bad wind meters, physical facial changes and rapid improvement leaves me wondering.
- I don’t agree with removing Heike Drechsler. If you are going to keep Lasse Viren, you have to include Heike.
- I agree with Frankie Fredericks and Merlene Ottey. It shows you don’t need Gold to prove you’re great (but it certainly helps)
- I don’t agree with removing Herb McKenley. But if you include Herb, you have to include Ralph Metcalfe.
- How can you have Sebastian Coe’s name without Steve Ovett?
- If you are going to include Alain Mimoun, you have to add Mamo Wolde
- I agree with both Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Irena Szewinska in the same list for longevity and diversity
- I agree with Daley Thompson, who actually competed in 4 Olympics, including 1976 and 1988. (Gold in 80 & 84)
- I agree with 4 time Olympians Jan Zelezny and Viktor Saneyev. They came very close in duplicating Al Oerter and Carl Lewis’s 4 Golds in 4 Olympics.
- And finally, you have to love the story of Harry Hillman in 1904 winning the 400 meters in a straight final of 13 runners! Must have been a waterfall start. I wish they would bring back the waterfall start or break for the pole for 400 meters, as it would make for a very entertaining event. Maybe bring back the 500 meters? The “one minute barrier” would be an obsession, and it is a nice even number for those who like the metric system (i.e. the half kilometer)
Any other exclusions?