Tuesday, August 22, 2006

WAF Day 3: The Great Debate II

The other day I was reading this article, which claims Tiger Woods is the greatest individual athlete ever. That leads us to today's great debate:

Who is the greatest INDIVIDUAL athlete ever?

Now, by definition, an individual athlete does not participate in team sports. And, for practical reasons, we should probably limit the discussion to 1900-present.

Personally, I think it's absurd to say one person is the best individual athlete ever. This would be like saying someone is the best author or painter. We're all biased toward those that perform at a high level in an activity we are interested in. But just because it's a crazy argument shouldn't stop us; we all have plenty of time to kill at work today.

I'll start the debate with someone Gene mentions in the article: Carl Lewis. As an individual (not counting his relay medals) big Carl won 7 gold and 1 silver Olympic medals. He also won 5 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze individual World Championship medals (and, at the time, the World Championships were held every four years). Perhaps Carl's most impressive feat is 4 consecutive Olympic gold medals in the long jump.

Of course Carl has his negatives: singing the national anthem and posing in high heels. But his accomplishments can't be denied, and he is at least equal to El Tigre.

I've got a few others, but I'll wait to post them. I'd like to hear what everybody else thinks.

Have a nice day.