Jamaican Olympic champion and sprint legend Usain Bolt has been ranked Number 5 in a Top 10 Best Athletes list covering the past 40 years by sports writer Mac Aljancic of the Times-Reporter. Bolt was cited because, more than any other athlete, he showed “true ‘not of this earth’ talent,” wrote Aljancic. Bolt won gold medals in the 100-meter, 200-meter, and 4 x 100-meter relay events and three consecutive Olympics. Bolt also holds the world record in each of these events as well. Aljancic specifically mentions how, when Bolt broke the 100-meter world record at the 2008 Olympics, he “made it look easy” and celebrated to the crowd of fans during its last 15 meters.
In selecting his Top 10, Aljancic looked at each athlete’s sustained dominance over a long period of time, the impact the athlete had in elevating his or her sport to the public, and focused his attention on what he characterizeds as “mainstream” athletes and sports.
In addition to Bolt, the sports writer feted the following athletes for their performance and impact over the past 40 years.
At the top of his list is American Olympic swim champion Michael Phelps, who is the most decorated Olympic athlete in history. He won 23 gold medals from the 2004 Athens Olympics to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. His races were not-to-be-missed events for television viewers. The strenuous training regimen required of swimmers makes his achievements even more spectacular, and for him to remain dominant for such a long period of time shows his amazing mental strength as well as his physical prowess.
Ranked second is American golfer Tiger Woods, who achieved an astonishing comeback after suffering numerous injuries and personal tragedies. In his first 14 major competitions, Woods displayed dominance in the sport of golf, a sport in which it is nearly impossible to dominate for more than one or two years. His performances drew millions of new viewers to the sport as well.
At Number 3 is American tennis phenomenon Serena Williams, who entered the scene with her sister Venus Williams, and became the sport’s greatest champion. Her Open-era record totals 23 majors between 1999 and 2017. She won her most recent major at the age of 35 and eight weeks pregnant. She played in two more major finals in 2018 with just months of giving birth to her daughter.
Ranked Number 4 is Roger Federer, the tennis superstar from Switzerland who won a record-setting 20 major titles between the age of 20 to the age of 36. He won three major title after the age of 35, and he won by spending the majority of his career playing against the Number 2 and Number 3 all-time major winners, Nadal and Djokovic. Both of whom were considerably younger.
Rounding out the Top 10 are Olympian and Track star Carl Lewis at Number 6, boxer Mike Tyson at Number 8, race care driver Dale Earnhardt at Number 9, and omen’s golfer Annika Sorenson at Number 10. Honorable mention was given to Marvin Hagler, Evander Holyfield, Jeff Gordon, Jimmy Johnson, Tom Watson, Nick Faldo, Pete Sampras, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Steffi Graff, Katarina Witt (Jack Nicklaus and Bjorn Borg did most of their winning before 1979)