Michael Phelps is the first to win 8 gold medals in one Olympics and has won the most medals in the last 112 years. So before 1896 (2008 minus 112), who was better than Michael Phelps? We all know the Olympics started in Greece around 776 BC, back when men fought lions and Zeus ran the 100m dash. Surely there must have been some good athletes. Here are our three favorites:
1. Leonidas of Rhodes won all 3 running races in the 164 BC Athens Olympics and repeated that feat in the following 3 Olympics. He set the ancient world record of 12 total gold medals, and one of the races he ran was performed with a bronze armor and shield. I’d like to see Tyson Gay run with a shield and armor.
2. Nero was the Roman Emperor who in 67 AD raced a 10-horse chariot, nearly died after being thrown from it, and bribed the committe for a win even though he crashed his chariot. That’s even more scandalous than the Serbians calling “Fraud” over Phelps winning in 1/100 of a second for his 7th Gold in Beijing — not to mention completely bad-ass racing a 10-horse chariot.
3. Acanthus of Sparta was the first Olympian to run naked, and he still managed to win 2 foot races. Acanthus provides inspiration to runners everywhere, including this fool on the right.