What Makes an Olympic Athlete Great?

The first week of the Olympics was filled with excitement! From swimming to tennis to track and field, we were definitely entertained, amazed, and even in awe of watching the world's best athletes perform.

First of all, congratulations to Carmelita Jeter for bringing home the silver in the women’s 100-meter dash ( and check out the track and field star's No. 1 workout secret here)!

When it came to tennis, Serena Williams was absolutely a beast in her match against Maria Sharapova. From the very beginning of the match, Williams looked confident and ready to win her first OIympic gold, which is exactly what she did. The strength and power she displayed was something to marvel at. Congratulations, Serena!

What about swimming? Michael Phelps certainly went out with a bang! He is arguably the best Olympian ever and showed us just why. Not many people get a chance to win one medal, let alone 22 with 18 of those being gold. Never in the history of the Olympic games has that been done, which leads me to this question: What really makes an Olympian exceptional?

In my opinion, it’s not just the amount of medals you win or how many events you compete in. There is definitely a lot more to being an Olympian than that. I believe athletes like Wilma Rudolph and Jesse Owens epitomize what it means to be an exceptional athlete. Rudolph was born prematurely and spent the bulk of her childhood in bed. She suffered from double pneumonia, scarlet fever, and later she contacted polio. After losing the use of her left leg, she was fitted with metal leg braces when she was only six. However, years of treatment and determination to be a “normal kid” worked, and Rudolph was out of her leg braces at age nine. She went on to become a basketball star before taking the track and field world by storm and ultimately went on to win three golds and one bronze at the 1960 Olympics in Rome. From there, she became the fastest woman in the world and the first American woman to win three gold medals in one Olympics.

Jesse Owens was known as the “Hero of Berlin” because of his accomplishments in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. Imagine having to compete during those times in a country run by Adolph Hitler. Owens had so many other things to worry about than just competing; he had to deal with so much racial prejudices and was never recognized by the White House for what he accomplished and how he overcame the hatred.

Phelps is definitely the greatest swimmer of all times and possibly the greatest Olympian ever. What he accomplished is not only significant in the swimming world, but in the world of sports in general. He ended his career by winning the 4x100 meter relay and with his teammates by his side praising who he is and what he has meant to them.  Will there ever be another Phelps? Perhaps, but for now, we must bid farewell to the greatest and most decorated Olympian in history.

Who do you believe to be the greatest Olympian in the world?
 

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