Every four years we are privileged to witness the world's greatest athletes commencing on a single global stage to compete against each other. From a sports performance perspective, the Olympic Games never disappoint, and with the end of the Rio Olympics upon us I do feel slightly disappointed.
For the past 12 years, sports fans have been spoiled at the Olympics mainly because of two Olympians that have simply dominated their sports. The performances that Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt have put on over the past three Olympics have been simply jaw dropping. But sadly, as with everything, their reigns in their respective sports have come to an end.
Phelps will end his Olympic career as the most decorated Olympian ever with a whopping 28 medals - which include 23 golds, and Bolt became the first man to ever win gold in the men’s 100 meter dash in three straight Olympics. Bolt has never lost an individual event at the Olympics and Phelps will leave with only two bronze medals in his medal collection. Both of the feats these athletes have accomplished are eye-opening, and looking back I cannot help but think that it will be a long time before anybody comes close to what they have achieved.
It has honestly been a treat to watch them compete. Bolt became an overnight sensation in under 10 seconds. When Bolt stepped onto the scene in Beijing in 2008 he brought a bravado to the sport of track and field that many people initially thought showed poor sportsmanship. Bolt was blowing away his competition and then taunting them (and the world) before he even crossed the finish line. But with his big smile and his Jamaican spirit, Bolt never seemed to come off as unsportsmanlike. He was above that. Bolt’s personality made for some great moments during his Olympic career and we can only hope that we are blessed with an athlete of his stature sometime down the road.
As for Phelps, he will be immortalized in world history. Five hundred years from now people will still be talking about Phelps' Olympic career. Simply put, Michael Phelps will go down not only as the greatest Olympic swimmer of all time, but as the greatest Olympian of all time. Never before had we seen an athlete completely dominate a single sport like Phelps. Michael Jordan was not winning MVP awards and NBA Championships at the end of his career. Babe Ruth had only 28 home runs over the last two years of his career. Larisa Latynina, who has the second most career Olympic medals, was only able to grab two golds in her final six Olympic events. To back up my point, Phelps just took home five gold medals and one silver in six events to finish out his Olympic career.
It has been truly remarkable what we have seen from these two Olympians over their careers.
Congratulations to both Bolt and Phelps on their accomplishments and for helping shed some light on what human beings are capable of.