Tuesday (July 31), Michael Phelps made history by winning his 19th Olympic medal, which makes him the most decorated Olympian across all sports and countries. But a couple people don’t think that makes him the greatest Olympian of all time.
Larisa Latynina, the woman whose record Phelps broke, an 18-time medal winner in gymnastics, tells Yahoo, “Do I think I am still the greatest Olympian? Why yes, but that is my opinion. Why do I think this? Well, I did not only compete in three Olympic Games and won many medals, but the Soviet Union team had very great success when I was the coach.”
She adds, “I have met [Michael Phelps] and I liked him. He was a nice person and, of course, he is a great swimmer. It is special what he has done.”
And she’s not the only one who thinks the topic is up for debate. London Olympics director Sebastian Coe, himself an Olympic medal winner, says that while Phelps is certainly the “most successful,” he is “probably not” the greatest Olympian.
When pressed as to who he would say is the greatest, Coe tosses out British rower Steve Redgrave, British decathlete Daley Thompson, U.S. track star Jesse Owens and Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci.
He then adds that debating the greatest Olympian is a “global pub game” because everyone has different opinions.