You used to be able to say things like, “Michael Phelps is great, but he’s no Leonidas of Rhodes.” Not anymore.
Phelps’s performance in Rio on Thursday added some strong support to the claim that he is the greatest Olympian of all time. The Baltimore-born swimmer just collected his 13th individual gold medal (in the 200-meter individual medley), surpassing a record set by Leonidas of Rhodes in 152 B.C. of 12 individual Olympic crowns.
Leonidas was a runner, so it’s apples and oranges, but you knew the risks when you signed up for comparing athletes across all disciplines and all time.