Usain Bolt ends glittering career, where does he rank among GOATs?

November 18, 2019

first_imgEven as Usain Bolt tumbled and failed to finish the final race of his brilliant career, it really didn’t matter whether he won or lost.Fifteen steps into the final homestretch of his final race, something gave in his left hamstring. The World’s Fastest Man skittered to a stop – hopping, skipping, jumping, then finally dropping to the ground and tumbling forward before coming to a rest. (Also Read – Disastrous farewells: Don Bradman’s duck, Usain Bolt limps )While the winning team from Britain crossed the finish line, Bolt was writhing on the track, where he eventually wound up chest down with his face pressed into Lane 5. He was certainly every bit as stunned as any of the 60,000-plus who packed the stadium Saturday, or the millions watching one of the world’s most entertaining showmen make his final curtain call in the 4×100-meter relay at world championships.There was no celebration. No gold, no silver, not even a consolation bronze, the likes of which Bolt received a week earlier in his final 100-meter race.Jamaica closed the night with “DNF” by its name: Did Not Finish. Dead last. Bolt was helped into a wheelchair, but eventually got to his feet and, assisted by his teammates, limped gingerly across the finish line. He gave a few waves to the crowd, then left for the trainer’s room, and with that, presumably left track and field forever.His legacy is, however, secure.But is he the greatest Olympian of them all?That’s an impossible question to answer, of course.advertisementSo let’s do this thing!Here’s the definitive list of Summer Olympic GOATs (Greatest Of All Time), as compiled by a voting panel of one. Guaranteed to spur debate, derision and generally rub people the wrong way. Send all complaints to the ghost of Baron de Coubertin.10. Ray Ewry, United States, Athletics – Call him Mr Perfect. Overcoming childhood polio, Ewry was the world’s best at jumping from a standing position. Sure, those events have long been discontinued. Who cares? He swept all three golds at the 1900 Paris Games – on the same day, in fact – and three-peated again in St. Louis. After the standing triple jump was dropped from the program, Ewry took gold in the standing long and high jumps in 1908, setting a mark for individual golds that stood for a century. Plus, he took two golds at the 1906 Athens Games that once counted as an official Olympics.9. Nadia Comaneci, Romania, Gymnastics – Call her Ms Perfect. At the 1976 Montreal Games, the 14-year-old captivated the world and helped turn gymnastics into one of the most popular Olympic sports by becoming the first gymnast to receive a 10 from the judges. By the time Comaneci was done, she had received six more perfect marks and claimed three golds.Nadia Comaneci (Reuters Photo)8. Aladar Gerevich, Hungary, Fencing – No one beats this swordsman for longevity. The only Olympian to win gold in the same event at six straight games, he was part of every winning sabre team from the 1932 Los Angeles Games through the 1960 Rome Games, when he was 50 years old. And get this: if not for the 1940 and ’44 Olympics being canceled because of World War II, he probably would’ve won eight straight golds.7. Carl Lewis, United States, Athletics – Another Olympian with staying power, he ruled the long jump at four straight Summer Games and finished his career with nine golds and a silver. Unfortunately, we have to give him a deduction for that horrific rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”Carl Lewis (Reuters Photo)6. Mark Spitz, United States, Swimming – Bouncing back from what was viewed as a disappointing performance at Mexico City (a laughable notion, by the way, since he won two golds and four medals), Spitz put his critics to shame by sweeping a record seven golds at the 1972 Munich Games. That mark stood until Michael Phelps’ Great Haul of China 36 years later.Mark Spitz (Reuters Photo)5. Larisa Latynina, Soviet Union, Gymnastics – The Ukrainian native competed in 19 events over three Olympics, and only failed once to land a spot on the medal podium (tying for fourth on the beam in 1956). With nine golds and 18 medals, she held the overall career mark that stood until Phelps swam past it in 2012 . Extra credit: Latynina coached the Soviet women to three straight team golds after retiring.Larisa Latynina (Reuters Photo)4. Paavo Nurmi, Finland, Athletics – The Flying Finn will forever be remembered for winning both the 1,500 and the 5,000 meters less than an hour apart at the 1924 Paris Games. But that’s only part of his amazing story. Competing in a dozen events over three Olympics, he won nine golds and three silvers. Nurmi also brought a new analytical approach to running that is still felt to this day. Unfortunately, his goal of closing his career with a marathon gold in 1932 was snuffed out by one of those silly battles over amateurism.advertisementNow, on to the medal podium…3. Jesse Owens, United States, Athletics – The bronze goes to the American track star who defied Adolf Hitler, winning the 100 meters, 200, 4×100 relay and long jump at the racially charged Berlin Olympics in 1936. A year before those games, he might have pulled off the most impressive feat ever at the Big Ten championships, where he set three world records and tied a fourth in the span of 45 minutes – including a long jump mark that stood for a quarter century.Jesse Owens (AP Photo)2. Bolt, Jamaica, Athletics – The only sprinter to capture the 100 and 200 titles at three consecutive Olympics has to settle for a silver here. His dominance on the track was only part of his story. Bolt was the life of the party every time he competed, captivating fans with his charisma, smile and that “To Di World” pose. Finishing third in the 100 at the World Championships in London, in what was billed as the last individual race of his career, does nothing to tarnish his legacy. “I personally don’t think it has changed what I have done in any way,” said Bolt.Usain Bolt (AP Photo)And the gold goes to…1. Michael Phelps, United States, Swimming – In terms of his medal collection, no one comes close to the Baltimore Bullet. Granted, as a swimmer, he had a lot more chances to reach the podium, but that merely enhances what he was able to do over the span of five Olympics. Phelps competed in 30 events – and touched first an astonishing 23 times . With three silvers and two bronzes, as well, he set a standard that will likely never be duplicated. And there’s speculation Phelps will come out of retirement again to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Games, so perhaps he’ll need to make room in the vault for a few more medals.Michael Phelps (AP Photo)He’s already done enough to top this list.last_img

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