During the Olympics Games, the medals table has everyone’s attention. Some countries are favorites for certain sports, but the United States is definitely the favorite to win the highest number of gold medals. Check out in this article who are the Greatest American Olympians of All Time.
1 – Michael Phelps
The young swimmer born in Baltimore is considered one of the greatest American Olympians of all time. In his fifth Olympics, in Rio de Janeiro, Michael Phelps ended his career leaving a legacy of achievements and example for younger athletes.
Despite the fame of late nights and drinks, the performance of Michael Phelps as an athlete remains impeccable. Billed as “the man who does not fail,” it is expected that he give up of his retirement and return to compete in the next Olympic Games in Tokyo (2020). Make your bets!
Olympic medals: 28 medals overall (23 gold medals, 3 silver medals and 2 bronze medals)
2 – Carl Lewis
Born in 1961 in Alabama, Carl Lewis had an ambitious goal when he was 23 years-old: to repeat the achievement of Jesse Owens at the Berlin Olympics (1936). Like the legendary Owens, Lewis tried to win four gold medals: 100 meters, 200 meters, 4x100m relay and long jump. And guess what: he won all.
Olympic medals: 10 medals overall (9 gold medals and 1 silver medal)
3 – Simone Biles
At just 19, Simone Biles already established herself as one of the greatest american Olympians of all time. Through her participation in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Simone Biles rose to five podiums, entering the top five of biggest medalists in the history of gymnastics in the same edition, surpassing the Romanian Nadia Comaneci.
Sport: Artistic Gymnastics
Olympic medals: 5 medals overall (4 gold medals and 1 bronze medal)
4 – Jesse Owens
The first major defeat of Adolf Hitler took place three years before the beginning of World War II. A man, alone, was the hero of this confrontation: Jesse Owens, a black American from Alabama. If he is not the greatest american Olympians of all time, nobody is or will be.
The seventh son of a family of cotton pickers and grandson of slaves, Jesse Owens (1913-1980) hit four Olympic records throughout his career, but never overcame the stigma and racial discrimination in his own country.
Once he blurted: “When I returned from Berlin, I still couldn’t enter through the front door
of the bus and still couldn’t live where I wanted. Also, I couldn’t make a nationwide advertising because it wouldn’t be accept in the South. Hitler did not greet me, but I was not invited to the White House to receive the greetings of the President of my country.”
Sport: Track and field
Olympic medals: 4 medals overall, all gold medals.
5 – Wilma Rudolph
Born prematurely in Saint Bethlehem (Tennessee), Wilma Rudolph is certainly one of greatest american Olympians of all time. When she was just a child, she was diagnosed with polio but her mother refused to accept the doctor’s sentence, saying that Rudolph would never walk again.
To find a hospital willing to treat a black child at the time of racial segregation was a challenge. The Meharry Hospital for blacks, of Fisk University in Nashville, was her only hope, but it was 80 kilometers of Clarksville, the city where she used to lived.
Rudolph’s mother took her twice a week by bus to the water and heat therapy, until she was able to walk with the help of an orthopedic device of metal in his left leg.
To speed up her recovery, Wilma started to play sports. And years later she achieved her great moment: with only 20 years, just eight years after winning Poliomyelitis, Wilma won three gold medals, becoming the first American woman to do that.
Sport: Track and Field
Olympic medals: 4 medals overall (3 gold medals and 1 bronze medal)
6 – Bob Mathias
At the London Olympics 1948, Bob Mathias became the youngest Olympic champion in history. The athlete was Olympic champion again in Helsinki (1952). At the end of his sporting career, Mathias dedicated himself to politics, but then returned to athletics circles and was the first director of the Center of Olympic training of Colorado Springs.
Olympic medals: 2 medals overall, both gold medals.
This was our list of the greatest American Olympians of all time. Their heartbeats may have faded away as they slowly drift away from the spotlight but one thing that is for sure is that they made indelible marks and left their footprints on the sand, which is why we will always remember them.
written by: bobyben