By L. Behar
Famous household names have created and rewritten history time and time again, building an infinite and long athletic hall of fame. The greatest athletes of all time serve as role models and idols for the younger generations who only aspire to achieve or accomplish the improbable, the unobtainable. These men and women have conquered their place in the stand and show us to this day that nothing is impossible, to persist and work hard to achieve your goals.
Michael Phelps has revolutionised swimming achieving what we know as impossible. Having attended over 5 Olympics, holding 23 Olympic gold medals. Born in Baltimore, Maryland Michael was determined in defying the laws of physics, achieving eight gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics defeating the known record hold by Mark Spitz, changing the sport. Phelps is possibly the most well-known swimmer in the world have attended the Sydney, Athens, Beijing, London and Rio Olympics and set up a foundation to teach and promote water safety and swimming.
The greatest star of the 80s, Michael Jordan became a household name for the sport. Jordan played 15 seasons in the NBA for the Bulls and the Wizards. He has achieved great feats such as the Olympic gold medalist of 1984 and 1992, college player of the year 1983 and 1984, Winner of the NCAA and NBA championships and is named one of the greatest players in NBA history.
Mohamed Ali now deceased, was one of the greatest boxers of all time, whilst achieving great feats in his sport he fought for his rights as a black and Muslim man. Today it is hard to talk about boxing without mentioning Mohamed Ali. He began as an amateur boxer when he was 12. While resisting the draft to the Vietnam War, Ali went on to achieve great things such as the Freedom medal, 1960 Gold Medal in the Rome Olympics and won the (1964-67, 1974-78, 1978-79) World heavy-weight champion and 1997 Essence Living Legend Award. Ali constructed a large legacy, with great boxing titles, earning his nickname “The Greatest”.
Nadia’s story is that of emotion and perseverance, as a Romanian teenager she competed in the 1976 Olympics with a sprained ankle, landing a perfect 10 on the asymmetrical bars. Having started training at age six Nadia was known for having a unique style and precise technique. Today she has a place in the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame and has written an autobiography named Letters to a Young Gymnast. Also, she has founded the Children’s Clinic Nadia Comaneci in Bucharest granting medical and social aid to orphaned Romanian children.
Growing up in the slums of Brazil, Pele has become a legend among all footballers. Initiating his career at age 15, Pelé played for the Santos team, he then went to land a spot on the National soccer team at 16 and won his first world cup at age 17. The king of soccer had a range of skill which only amounted his fame, transforming him into a national hero for many Brazilians.
American, Jesse Owens was a track and field athlete, who forged athletic history. Owens Participated in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Germany, winning four gold medals as a black American athlete, demonstrating how perverted Hitler’s myths about Aryan Supremacy truly were. Today there are movies and documentaries that show Owen’s achievements and victories in the multiple relays, long jump events a sprint.
Serena William has won 23 Grand Slam titles, three Olympic gold Medals and has gained 71 career singles titles. Serena is regarded as one of the most empowering female athletes who has defied the odds of her social class status and her critics comments. As a strong female athlete and mother, Serena is debatably the best female tennis player ever. Whilst some call her crazy some admire and idolize her for her accomplishments and deeds.
Born in Jamaica, Usain Bolt is a track athlete who has taken athletics to another level. He is a three-consecutive champion in two track events, the 100m and 200m sprint. Known as “Lightning Bolt” he has been world champion ten times and set multiple world records doing what many would have perceived as impossible. It was during the Beijing Olympics that Bolt set a new world record as the first man who ran under 9.7 seconds at a 9.69 second mark.
Jim Thorpe -
An American athlete and Olympic gold medalist, Jim Thorpe, was the first Native American Athlete to earn a Medal for the United States. He won the gold medal for the 1912 pentathlon and decathlon and then went on to play American football, baseball and basketball. The Press has named him as the “Greatest Athlete” of the first half of the century. Today there is a town in Pennsylvania that is named after him and monuments raised in his honour.