Michael Phelps and 5 Other Record-Setting American Olympians [VIDEOS]
Once again, American swimmer Michael Phelps gobbled up the gold at the Olympics, taking home four more top medals and an additional two silver medals.
Phelps insists that this is the end of the road for him, which means he’s retiring from competition with 22 medals in his career, more than anyone else ever. With it, many have crowned Phelps the greater Olympian ever. What other American Olympians can hold a candle to Phelps? Here’s a look back at five others from Team USA’s all-time team:
Before Phelps, Spitz was the greatest American swimmer in history, tallying nine golds, one silver, and one bronze at his two Olympic Games in 1968 and 1972. It was his seven gold medals at the Munich 1972 Games that had everyone buzzing since Spitz had set them all in world record times. He won every event in which he entered. “There is something very depressing about being the best in the world at something,” he said later.
The track star earned nine golds and one silver in a career that never seemed to end. He first stepped into the international spotlight at Los Angeles in 1984, when he won four medals. Then, four years later at Seoul, Lewis earned three more medals, followed by another two at Barcelona, and a remarkable last gold in the long jump in 1996 in Atlanta when he was 35 years old. For his incredible achievements, Lewis was named Sportsman of the Century by the International Olympic Committee in 1999.
Thompson also did her damage in the pool. She cruised to eight golds, three silvers and a bronze in her career, making her the most successful female Olympian ever at swimming. It started at Barcelona with two golds and a silver. Thompson only got better from there, totaling three gold medals at the Atlanta Games in 1996. But she struck gold again three times at Sydney in 2000, while picking up a bronze for good measure. Her brief retirement was halted at Athens in 2004 when Thompson took home two silver medals participating in relays.
He may not be someone you remember as well as his compatriots, but Biondi also dominated at swimming, putting up eight gold medals, two silvers, and a bronze. Biondi first competed at the 1984 Olympic Games, winning a gold medal. Yet, he showed he had more in store for the world at the 1988 Games when he won seven medals, including five golds. In 1992, he got two more golds in relays and a silver while setting seven individual world records.
In a way, Ewry achieved the greatest feat of anyone, since he was never supposed to have walked. He was paralyzed by polio as a child, but miraculously overcame his condition well enough to captain the Purdue track team and to also play football. He won eight gold medals at the Olympic Games and a pair of golds at the Intercalated Games (1906 Athens) in track and field. He competed in former events such as the standing high jump, standing long jump and standing triple jump. Similar events still exist today, but with run-ups to gain momentum. Ewry did it with brute strength.