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Greatest American track & field athlete ever


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  • #16
    Re: Greatest American track & field athlete ever

    Sorry, I'm with gh on this one. Not only was I there, but I've also seen the video of his reaction many times. He was definitely excited.


    • #17
      Re: Greatest American track & field athlete ever

      OK, I get the point. What I'm trying to say here is that he was more excited about beating Lewis than breaking the record, probably because he thought it was a harder thing to do.


      • #18
        Re: Greatest American track & field athlete ever

        Squire's point is well taken as the competition aspect almost overshadowed Powell's WR. That was the most exciting track competition which I have ever seen. The television coverage was extraordinary for a jumping event. Although Powell won, Lewis's series seemed almost as impressive.


        • #19
          Re: Greatest American track & field athlete ever

          right.... 18 posts on this topic already and no mention of JJK!!! Deary deary me!


          • #20
            Re: Greatest American track & field athlete ever

            >What's this "unfortunately" Carl Lewis
            The only athletes that
            >ranked ahead of Lewis in the 100m between 1981
            >and 1988 served suspension time for doping

            Unfortunately, it appears big $$$$ and a complicit American Federation kept Lewis from serving suspensions along with the guys you mention above.


            • #21
              Re: Greatest American track & field athlete ever

              There's no question in my mind that Jesse Owens must rank ahead of Carl Lewis. Don't get me wrong -- Lewis is right there near the top, but just not a match for Owens in my opinion.

              1. I would say the strongest argument for Lewis is his 9 Olympic gold medals. Owens won 4 at the 1936 Olympics, and then the next two Olympics ('40 and '44) were cancelled due to WW II. Even without the cancellations, my understanding is that, for financial reasons and just in terms of the norm for that era, the kind of career longevity we see today was just not typical back in Owens's day. I am projecting -- for what it's worth -- that had Owens competed in an era in which T&F athletes could have long careers, he'd have more closely rivaled (or even exceeded) Lewis's number of Olympic golds.

              2. Even with Owens's much shorter career span, excluding relays, Owens broke more world records in one afternoon (three, with a fourth one tied, at the 1935 Big Ten championships) than Lewis did in his entire career (twice he held the 100m WR)! That's a fact! (See summary of Owens's accomplishments at:


              3. Nor can one argue that Owens's records were "cheap" in the sense of the sport being relatively early in its history. Owens's long jump world record (26-8¼) lasted for 25 years (1935-1960), which is even greater longevity than Bob Beamon's LJ record (23 years, 1968-1991). Heck, Owens's 1935 jump of 26-8¼ would even be considered an excellent jump today!

              4. As if the above-named accomplishments weren't enough, Owens was also a world record 220 hurdler. Mastering two skills such as sprinting and long jumping is difficult enough, but Owens excelled at a third difficult discipline.


              • #22
                Re: Greatest American track & field athlete ever

                I'll Bet C.J. Hunter could run the 100M under 2 or 3 minutes. Just kidding.


                • #23
                  Re: Greatest American track & field athlete ever

                  I didn't see anyone name Edwin Moses to this list.

                  Two-time Olympic champ at the 400m hurdles, undefeated for ten years (even the incomprable Carl Lewis couldn't claim that title), multiple World Record setter. Moses started his reign as a junior from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia; his reign ended with a bronze medal in the Seoul Olympics. Always a classy guy who redefined how the 400 hurdles race was run.


                  • #24
                    Re: Greatest American track & field athlete ever

                    No question that Moses is up there. Had he been able to win the '88 Olympic gold, some people probably would have considered it an "asterisked-Oerter" performance. He would have won gold in '76, '84, and (hypothetically) '88, and what would have been the only omission ('80) was when the U.S. boycotted the Games. Barring the most bizarre circumstances, Moses should easily have won the gold in '80. However unfair it may be, though, the lack of a gold in '88 probably drops Moses a notch.


                    • #25
                      Re: Greatest American track & field athlete ever

                      >I didn't see anyone name Edwin Moses to this

                      I did. I said that if you your definition of "greatest" is domination of a single event, it's got to be Moses.

                      I think Owens was great. I also think he is terribly over-rated. No one ever realizes that he was the world's best 100 man for only one year -- 1936. He was tops in the 200 only for 1935 and 1936. His best event was the long jump, but it's a bit of a stretch to say that his career accomplishments in the LJ top Carl's.

                      As for WRs, the ratification system back then was wierd at times. The ATFS does not question the validity of Charley Paddock's 10.2, which was run 14 years before Owens' WR. (Paddock's time was not accepted as a WR because it was for 110y rather than 100m, even though he ran FURTHER than 100m). The ratification system now has just one problem -- altitude. Carl had the low-altitude WRs for the 100 for most of the '80s, the 200 from 1983 to 1988, and the LJ from '81 to '91.

                      I just can't give the title of "greatest" to someone based on one season plus one meet, and that's what Owens has going for him -- 1936 plus the '35 Big Ten meet. I look at accomplishments, so if you're going to argue about the nebulous idea of "talent", I'm out.


                      • #26
                        Re: Greatest American track & field athlete ever

                        You are limiting us to "modern" choices. How about:

                        Jim Thorpe (in my mind the greatest athlete in recorded history)
                        Bob Mathias


                        • #27
                          Re: Greatest American track & field athlete ever

                          j squire, here's one just for you....

                          being an obvious Ohio resident, who is Ohio State's greatest athlete ?

                          A few basketballers, a few track athletes, a few footballers, and one golfer come to mind...

                          let's see your rankings of the top 5. Or anybody else for that matter.


                          • #28
                            Re: Greatest American track & field athlete ever

                            Golfers aren't athletes.


                            • #29
                              Re: Greatest American track & field athlete ever

                              tell Tiger that.


                              • #30
                                Re: Greatest American track & field athlete ever

                                Um, again, it comes down to your definition of "greatest". Does the inherent athleticism of a sport count? Are you looking for the athlete who dominated his sport the most?

                                If you're just looking for the athletes who dominated their sports the most, then here it is in order and by sport:

                                Men's Golf -- Jack Nicklaus
                                Men's Track -- Edwin Moses
                                Figure Skating -- Scott Hamilton (I once lived on Scott Hamilton Street)
                                Football -- Alan Page (Ohio has more Pro HOF members than California!)
                                Basketball -- Jerry Lucas
                                Baseball -- Mike Schmidt
                                Women's Track -- Madeline Manning
                                Boxing -- Jim Jeffries
                                Hockey -- Ohio has no players in the Hockey Hall of Fame
                                Women's Golf -- Ohio has no players in the LPGA Hall of Fame

                                I'm sure I'm missing a few sports, but these are the ones that immediately jump to mind. Some will want to eliminate Nicklaus and Hamilton on technicalities of "athleticism", although I'd like to see a non-athlete hit a ball 300 yards or do a front-flip on skates. Nevertheless, these are all great champions regardless of athletic ability.

                                Overall, I'd go:
                                1) Nicklaus
                                2) Moses
                                3) Owens
                                4) Hamilton
                                5) either Dillard, Davis or Davenport

                                Ohio is track-heavy and basketball-light. Ohio also can claim the greatest American-born black long-distance runner (Ted Corbitt) and one of the first five American-born blacks to run a sub-4:00 mile (Reggie McAfee).

                                Now if you want the greatest athletes from Toledo, I've got you covered to the top 20 or so!