This is the first installment of a series that I am calling the #TheLegendOf. I will cover world class sports figures that I have been able to watch and enjoy in my lifetime.
With the news tonight of Michael Phelps getting his 22nd gold medal, I thought starting with him would be fitting.
Darren Rovell put it fantastically in a recent tweet.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) August 11, 2016
16 years ago, the 2000 Olympiad Michael Phelps splashed onto the scene (Sorry about that, I couldn’t help myself). He was a 15 year old kid that still had braces on his bottom teeth. He finish fifth place in the 200m butterfly.
His teammate and gold medal winner of that event patted Phelps on the back and told him, “The best is ahead of you,” according to “No Limits,” one of Phelp’s autobiographies.
I don’t think the man that beat him that day had any idea how much was still ahead of Phelps.
He is now the most decorated Olympian of all time.
He has the most overall medals, the most gold medals and the most individual wins of any competitor ever, beating out Leonidis of Rhodes from 152 BCE. The previous 2168 year old record fell to our 6’4″ tall (but only 32 inch inseam) canoe of a man in 2016. Phelps has as more medals than 84 different countries. Morocco is tied with him at 22 gold medals and they have competed in 13 different Olympiads.
Phelps has a beautiful wife and adorable baby with him in Rio. He can walk away now and will be remembered as the greatest of all time and he should. There is nothing left to prove. No mountain to climb and nothing but the future in front of him.
Now, not to be a downer, but…
I would throw any of these accomplishments into the most unbreakable records of all time with Brett Farve’s career wins and Cal Ripkin’s Iron Man records. But the standout of them all is a young girl named Katie Ledeke.
That is how good she is. In an article that is meant to show the greatness of the best swimmer to ever walk on this earth; Ledeke has a shot to top her teammate Phelps and I will be writing an article about her legend in 16 years.