Phelps makes bigger splash but Owens is greatest of all

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2012, 11:03pm


Mirror, mirror on the wall, is Michael Phelps the fairest of them all? The American merman is certainly the most successful Olympian of all time, but is he the greatest? Not according to Richard Young from Twickenham, who wrote to The Times saying swimmers can win medals in five events: freestyle or front crawl, swimming on their backs (backstroke), swimming on their front with synchronous movement of legs and arms under the water (breaststroke), or with synchronous movement of legs and arms under water but with arm recovery over the water (butterfly), or a combination of all four (individual medley).

'But only two methods of human propulsion over the ground are recognised: running and walking. This is not fair. If I were a track athlete, I would lobby for additional events such as running backwards (backtrack), hopping forwards with both feet planted side by side (kangaroo), or the same backwards (reverse kangaroo), and of course an individual medley of all.'

Young, tongue firmly planted in his cheek, has a point.

My favourite is Jesse Owens, who won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics in the process debunking Hitler's belief of Aryan supremacy.

Owens was snubbed by Franklin D. Roosevelt and was never invited to the White House. A few months before he died in 1980, he unsuccessfully tried to convince Jimmy Carter not to boycott the 1980 Moscow Olympics saying the Olympic ideal was for countries to call a time-out from war and to be above politics. He was a great man. A great Olympian.