Is Michael Phelps The Greatest Olympian Ever?

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bill-swift - August 4, 2012

I don't know if you know this, but Michael Phelps is really good at swimming.

He's like a fish or something. I'm just putting it out there .... I think his mum is Ariel. You heard it here first!

On Thursday evening, Phelps beat his closest rival Ryan Lochte in the men's 200m individual medley to win his 20th Olympic medal. A mesmerically outstanding feat that has seen sporting pundits label him the greatest Olympian of all time, from both the winter and summer competitions.

And it's really hard to disagree with them. 16 of his 20 have been gold and this victory meant that he became the first man to defend his swimming title twice after winning the event in Athens and Beijing.

Of course, it might be hard to disagree with those that say he's the best, but these other athletes below probably have a right to be considered too.

Carl Lewis - With 10 medals to his name in track and field, Carl Lewis is regarded by many as the greatest Olympian. 9 of his triumphs were Gold and in 1984 he won the 100-metre, 200-metre, long jump and 4x100 metre relay, which led to many comparing him to 1936's sporting sultan Jesse Owens. He would later go onto to claim 2 gold's at the 1988 and 1992 games and a solitary success in 1996 too.

Larisa Latynina - The woman who Phelps knocked from the summit, her record had stood for nearly 50 years! She won six medals in Melbourne 1956, Rome 1960 and Tokyo 1964 a piece,with nine of these achievements being of the gold variety. Which is topped by the fact that in 1956 she was four months pregnant. That's just showing off.

Edoardo Mangiarotti - Collecting 13 medals is a triumph in itself, but to have done it over a 24-year trajectory is simply ridiculous. One of Italy's greatest ever competitors the fencer won 6 golds, 5 silvers and 2 bronze in his career from 1936 to 1960.

Paavo Nurmi - The athletes win the largest haul of medlas are normally gymnasts and swimmers as they have more individual events. So the fact that this finish runner won 12 medals in the 12 events he competed in between 1920 to 1928 should probably mean you're giving him a standing ovation right now. And the events that he ran in? Just the long-distance races, nothing that takes it out of you too much.

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