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Is Michael Phelps the all-time greatest Olympic athlete? [Poll]

August 01, 2012|By Chuck Schilken
  • Michael Phelps holds up one of his all-time record 19 Olympic medals after Tuesday's 200-meter butterfly.
Michael Phelps holds up one of his all-time record 19 Olympic medals after… (Christophe Simon / AFP /…)

Michael Phelps has more Olympic medals (19) and gold medals (15) than anyone else in history. That much cannot be disputed.

But is he the greatest summer Olympic athlete ever? Well, that question might set off a worldwide debate.

Sebastian Coe, a two-time gold medalist in the 1,500 meters and head of the London Games, said Wednesday that Phelps may be the most successful Olympian ever, but that doesn't necessarily mean the greatest.

He said his list of candidates would also include track and field legend Jesse Owens, who won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, and Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci, who achieved a perfect score at the 1976 Olympics.

Coe also mentioned a pair of British athletes -- five-time gold medalist rower Steve Redgrave and two-time decathlon champion Daley Thompson -- but left off U.S. track star Carl Lewis, who won nine gold medals and 10 overall.

Of course, there are so many other notable athletes in the conversation, including Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina (18 medals, nine gold) and U.S. diver Greg Louganis, whose haul of five medals, including four gold, might have been more had the U.S. not boycotted the 1980 Moscow Games.

So who do you think the greatest of all time is? Vote in the poll, then leave a comment explaining why you voted the way you did. Obviously many great athletes were left off -- feel free to choose "other," and let us know whom you favor and why.

ALSO:

Michael Phelps sets a career high-water mark

London Olympics: What to watch for on Wednesday

President Obama to Michael Phelps: Hail to you, chief

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