The Greatest Athletes Of All Time
History is littered with great athletes from so many different sports, but every once in a while we are blessed to see a true legendary athlete grace the game, someone who is so good and athletically gifted that people who have no interest in the sport will still be drawn to see the sport simply because the athlete participating is so good at what they do. In this article I am going to choose five athletes, who in my opinion are the best I have seen. Please note there is no particular order, just a top five
Lomu was undoubtedly the first real global superstar of Rugby Union. Possessing a freakish blend of size, speed and power. Standing 6’5 and weighing over 18st, he was somehow still able to run 100m in 10.8 seconds, and he wasnt even 20yrs old! I haven’t watched much Rugby in my lifetime, all the games I did watch were for one reason only – to watch Jonah Lomu. His performance for New Zealand in the 95 World Cup was legendary and the sight of him running over the English players on his way to scoring a try was the tournaments highlight moment. He would score seven tries in the 95 World Cup and another eight in the 99 World Cup.
Sadly at the end of 1995, Lomu was diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome(a kidney disorder) he would have a stop start career as he battled his illness before finally retiring from professional Rugby in 2007. Jonah Lomu died aged just 40 in November 2015, a true legend of the sport and without doubt one of the greatest athletes we have ever seen, will Rugby ever see a player who can create a bigger impact than the beast Jonah Lomu?
Carl Lewis was an American track and field athlete who won 10 Olympic medals, 9 of them gold. The 1984 Olympics were all about Carl Lewis, at 6’2 and 180lbs, Lewis had an elegant and graceful style of running, you would think he was gliding he made running fast look so good! His achievements are too many to mention, but he excelled not just in the 100m, 200m and relays but also the Long Jump(which includes a streak of 65 consecutive victories just for good measure). Voted world athlete of the century by the International Association of Athletics Federations and “Sportsman of the Century” by the International Olympic Committee and also “Olympian of the Century” by Sports Illustrated tells you everything you need to know about just how great an athlete he was.
A former Baseball and American Football player, Bo Jackson’s extreme athletic abilities enabled him to excel in not just one, but two sports. He is one of the very few athletes to be named an All Star in two major sports and the only one to do so in Baseball and American Football. Bo stood at 6’1 and 230lbs and ran the 40 yard dash in 4.1 seconds, one of the fastest ever times recorded for an American Football player, his elite speed much quicker than players who were 40-50lbs lighter than he was. Bo Jackson would not only run past you due to his speed, he could also run right through you due to his size. Indeed his legs were so big he would break a baseball bat over them! Bo mania swept the sporting world when Nike created an advertising campaign which became very popular ‘Bo Knows’ which involved Bo attempting to take up various other sports. If you have heard of the Nike Air Trainer, you now know it was driven on the back of Bo Jackson – Bo Knows….
Before Ali, heavyweight boxers were big and slow, big punchers but slow movers. Ali changed the face of Heavyweight Boxing for ever and indeed Boxing. Ali was 6’3 and 210lbs, the size of a heavyweight yet he moved like a middleweight and had the reflexes of a welterweight, even his hand speed was that of a middleweight, it was unheard of for such a big man to punch and move so quickly. Ali was was ranked as the greatest athlete of the 20th century by Sports Illustrated and the Sports Personality of the Century by the BBC. Since Ali retired from Boxing, the Heavyweight world is still yet to see someone like him who could move and punch with such speed. Arguably the most recognisable face of the 20th Century, even if Ali had not been such a polarizing figure outside of the ring he would still have been remembered for being such a great athlete in the ring.
Sadly the world was to lose ‘The Greatest’ earlier this year when Muhammad Ali passed away on June 3rd 2016 after a long battle with Parkinsons. The sporting world will not see the likes of Muhammad Ali again.
With the Olympics currently being held in Brazil it is only fair we mention the greatest current Olympian in the world. The fastest man alive the fastest man we have ever known, Usain Bolt. Bolt wants to be thought of among ‘the greatest’ with Muhammad Ali, whereas achieving Ali’s universal stature and appeal outside of sport may be difficult to attain, when it comes to being amongst the greatest athletes we have ever seen, there is no doubting ‘Lightning’ Bolt belongs in the same breath as Muhammad Ali. 6’5 and 207lbs, long limbed and perfectly built to run fast, Bolt holds a list of records, which he himself keeps beating, holding the fastest 2 times ever recorded in the 100m sprint whilst being tied for the 3rd! If that isn’t enough, the Jamaican superstar holds the record for the 200m time too. Still not 30yrs, will Bolt go down as the greatest Olympian ever, ahead of even Carl Lewis? The current 2016 Olympics can secure Bolt as the all time greatest as he looks to add to his six Olympic gold medals.
UPDATE* Bolt did indeed dominate once again in the 2016 Olympics, securing his place at the top as undoubtedly history’s greatest ever sprinter. Has he done enough to be named alongside the greats such as Muhammad Ali and Pele as he once said?
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