Topend Sports Logo

Who is the Greatest Olympian of All Time?

Before the Rio Olympics, we asked "who is the greatest Olympian in the history of the summer Olympic Games?". Defining the greatest in sport is usually a difficult decision, and may depend on things like the number of medals won, the number of Olympics participated in and the impact they had on their sport and society in general. In this case it is pretty clear cut - in the poll results below you can see that a majority (72%) believed that Michael Phelps is the greatest.

We had asked this question prior to the 2016 Rio Olympics, in which Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt both added to their medal tally. It is now widely agreed that the mantle for the greatest ever Olympian is between these two, so the latest version of this poll has just those two options. Also see our other Olympics Polls.

Michael Phelps 2538 72%
other 179 5%
Steve Redgrave 177 5%
Jesse Owens 172 5%
Carl Lewis 156 4%
Nadia Comaneci 108 3%
Jim Thorpe 107 3%
Paavo Nurmi 48 1%
Larissa Latynina 27 1%
Mark Spitz 20 1%

Disclaimer: These polls are not scientific, and only reflect the opinion of visitors to this website who have chosen to participate.

Related Pages

send us a comment Any comments, suggestions, or corrections? Please let us know.

Old Comments

Commenting is closed on this page, though you can read some previous comments below which may answer some of your questions.

Polls Extra

Check out the other polls in the sections on Fitness Testing, Fitness, Sports and the Olympics.

Olympics Extra

The next Olympics will be in Paris 2024, followed by the Winter edition in Milan-Cortina 2026. Check out the list of Olympic Games sports, as well as discontinued and demonstration sports.

 → How to Cite