On Thursday Michael Phelps scored his 26th career medal and his 22nd Olympic gold medal. It solidified him further in his spot as the most decorated olympian ever.
The fact that his win in the 200m butterfly on Tuesday was pretty personal, considering he had lost in that event four years ago, made this a pretty special Olympics for Michael Phelps but even more history-making lay ahead for him.
Olympic historian Bill Mallon shared on Wednesday that Phelps stood on the brink of breaking a millennia-old record and now with 13 individual wins to his name, Michael Phelps has broken the millennia-old record of the late, great Leonidas of Rhodes.
The International Olympic Committee which is pretty good at keeping their statistics paint Leonidas of Rhodes as one of the greatest sprinters who ever lived, according to complete (for the most part) Olympic records which were first compiled by Hippias of Elas and updated and revised by later scholars.
Leonidas appeared at the 154th Olympiad held in 164 BCE carting away wins in the ‘triple’. The triple basically referred to;
- The stadion sprint (about 200 meters*)
- The diaulos (twice the length of the stadion)
- The hoplitodromos, a diaulos with the runners wearing a helmet and greaves and carrying a shield, the armor weighing more than 50 pounds.
He went on to win the triple at the next three Olympic games in 160 BCE, 156 BCE, and 152 BCE. These events in which Leonidas competed and won were among the most popular and most important events at the ancient Olympics. In fact, the stadion traditionally opened each of the Games, and the hoplitodromos closed them.
Leonidas was awarded wreaths not medals for his 12 wins but his wins had made up a millennia-old record in the Game, one that has stood uncontested since then.
Michael Phelps has, however, managed to break his record in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games to surpass Leonidas millennia-old record. So is Michael Phelps the greatest Olympian ever? There are people who would certainly say so.