Michael Phelps versus Greek Leonidas from Rhodes

International Press, Michael Phelps obscures the light from Ancient Greek Leonidas form Rhodes -the greatest athlete of ancient Greece


by James Masters

Michael Phelps is used to rewriting history — now he’s eclipsing it too.

Photo from Wikipedia
You have to go back around 2,160 years, give a week or two, to find an athlete who could challenge the imperious record held by the “Baltimore Bullet.”
The US star claimed the 22nd Olympic gold of his Olympic career Thursday after powering past the opposition in the final of the 200-meter individual medley.

Michael Phelps won the 200-meter individual medley for the fourth successive Games.

That victory, the 13th individual triumph of his Olympics career, meant he surpassed the greatest athlete of ancient Greece and indeed of the Games — Leonidas of Rhodes.
Phelps, who took his tally to four gold medals at Rio by winning the event for the fourth consecutive Games in succession, moved ahead of Leonidas after edging out Japan’s Kosuke Hagino and China’s Wang Shun.
The achievements of Leonidas, a runner who competed between 164 and 152 BC, were recorded by Philostratus the Athenian and Pausanias who told of the his 12 triumphs, according to the official Olympics website.
Perhaps in another 2,000 years the stories of Phelps and his exploits will be shared around the table given his astonishing record.
The most decorated Olympian of all-time with 26 medals made a mockery of suggestions that he would struggle to cope with teammate Ryan Lochte and Japan’s Hagino.
Phelps didn’t just win — he smashed it. Then he jumped out of the pool to receive his medal before heading back in to qualify for Friday’s 100-meter butterfly final.
The 31-year-old, who is set to retire after the Games, could end up with five gold medals by the end of the competition.
Phelps wasn’t the only gold medal winner for the US on a stunning night of swimming.

The Telegraph

Michael Phelps beats 2,168-year-old Olympic record at Rio Games with 200m medley victory

Michael Phelps has beaten a 2,168-year-old Olympic record for individual event successes.

When the American swimmer won the Olympic 200 metres individual medley on Thursday, he overtook the record of 12 successes set by Leonidas of Rhodes in the original Greek Games in 152 BC.

Though Phelps is the most decorated Olympian in the modern era with 22 gold medals, as well as two silver and two bronze, nine of his triumphs have come as part of a relay team – a concept not present in the Games of the second century BC.


Michael Phelps smiles on the medal rostrum at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Unmatched as Phelps appears to be in the 21st century AD, Leonidas of Rhodes was himself peerless in the sprinting events across the 154th, 155th, 156th and 157th ancient Olympiads.

The Stadion and Diaulos events seem to have been roughly equivalent to today’s 200m and 400m sprint races respectively, while theHoplitodromos resembled a Diaulos but with the athletes wearing bronze armour and carrying a shield.

An ancient Greek vase depicting a scene from the 'Hoplitodromos' race in the Olympiad
PHOTO: An ancient Greek vase depicting a scene from the ‘Hoplitodromos’ race in the Olympiad CREDIT: MARIE-LAN NGUYEN

Leonidas won all three of those races at four consecutive Olympiads, between 164 and 152 BC.

He wasn’t completely infallible, however; what winners’ lists survive for the Dolichos race – thought to have been a three-mile slog – don’t anywhere mention Leonidas of Rhodes.

Phelps, by contrast, won the 100m butterfly in 2004, 2008 and 2012; the 200m butterfly in 2004, 2008 and 2016; the 200m medley in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016; the 400m medley in 2004 and 2008; and the 200m freestyle in 2008.


Photo : Michael Phelps reclaimed his Olympic 200m butterfly crown, with reigning champion Chad Le Clos (right) only fourth CREDIT: FRANCOIS-XAVIER MARIT/AFP 

Some have questioned the worth of Leonidas’ exploits in a time before the omnipresence of sports-science laboratories, snazzy race apparel and multi-million-dollar endorsement deals – but no doubt whoever occupies planet Earth in another 2,000 years will be similarly dismissive of Phelps’ puny achievements.

That the Olympics went uncontested for the better part of these two millennia between Leonidas’ and Phelps’ victories appears not to have diminished the scale of latter’s achievement in the eyes of fans and the world media.

Phelps’ 200m ‘fly win on Tuesday was particularly impressive given the American’s two-year retirement between 2012 and 2014, reclaiming the title lost to Chad Le Clos of South Africa in London.


Born in Canada few decade ago... Lived in Greece, USA, UK and Canada but still seeking for something new...

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