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Greatest Olympian Ever I: Athens 1896


Sir Rols

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To 'celebrate' my 300 posts mark (I know, a mere stripling comapred with the likes of the Baron Roltel etc), I thought I'd start up an online poll for the greatest summer Olympian of all time, with nominees selected from each Summer Games. The criteria is generally that the nominee is a multiple gold medallist either at the specific games, or over several games. For example, Paul Masson won his 3 Olympic championships in Athens 1896 for the cycling events of men's sprint, men's 1km time trial and men's 10km. You may also be willing to consider Edwain Flack not just because ne won two Olympic championships, but also because he entered the marathon and also the tennis tournament. In the case of Spyridon Louis his nomination can be based on the symbolism of his marathon victory, for the home Greek audience as well as for Olympic history.

The polls will run for a week, the winner nominated as the greatest athlete of that specific summer games. In turn there will be polls from the winners of the periods 1896-1932, 1936-1972 and 1976-2004, and the final will be a run off of the three period poll winners. If you have any suggestions for nominations for athletes for the next week's athlete or comments on your selection for the current poll please feel free to include them.

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My vote for the greatest athlete of the Athens 1896 games is Spyridon Louis. As indicated above, the historic significance of his victory in the marathon can't be overestimated within modern Olympic tradition, and in some ways defined the Athens 1896 Olympics as well as the modern Olympics as a successful revival of the ancient games. My seocnd vote would have gone to Edwin Flack, which I guess shows my Australian bias, but a close third is Alfred Hajos. Having to compete in swimming by getting into Pireaus harbour must've been a hell of a challenge!
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I go for the symbolism of Spiridon Louis, also because of the importance of hist victory for the success of those first games, and hence for the future of the games in general.

Great topic(s) BTW!

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And also BTW, congrats on 300 posts _ each and every one high quality!

Ah...quality!!  :angry:  More is better!!  (j/k)

Except for Spyridon, I wouldn't rank those others in the same firmament.  For me the greatest Olympian is

Surya Bonaly...just kidding again!!   :laughlong:

No, it's really Al Oerter. I mean 4x consecutive gold medalist in the terribly obscure but gut-wrenching sport of shot-put!!  I mean who can equal that?  And he's(was) good-looking to boot.

#2 is Emil Zatopek!!

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baron-pierreIV Posted on Mar. 29 2005,13:18

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Quote (roltel @ Mar. 28 2005,22:07)

And also BTW, congrats on 300 posts _ each and every one high quality!

Ah...quality!!    More is better!!  (j/k)

Except for Spyridon, I wouldn't rank those others in the same firmament.  For me the greatest Olympian is

Surya Bonaly...just kidding again!!    

No, it's really Al Oerter. I mean 4x consecutive gold medalist in the terribly obscure but gut-wrenching sport of shot-put!!  I mean who can equal that?  And he's(was) good-looking to boot.

#2 is Emil Zatopek!!

So I guess Baron you've already marked out Oerter for 1964 and Zatopek for 1952? They're certainly in my mind for future polls for Tokyo and Helsinki, and without giving all my intentions away Emil Zatopek is certainly one of my all time faves.

And thanks for the nice words Roltel...one day we'll have to meet up at Sydney Olympic park and toast our memories of 2000 and all the GamesBid controversies since then with some fine ice cold lagers  :laughlong:

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I chose Louis here, too. However, who was the first person that some sources claim was the very first person to be claimed "Olympic champion" after such a long hiatus of the Olympics at Athens 1896?
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Guardian Posted on Mar. 30 2005,17:14

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I chose Louis here, too. However, who was the first person that some sources claim was the very first person to be claimed "Olympic champion" after such a long hiatus of the Olympics at Athens 1896?

Easy...James Connolly. He won the running triple jump whilst on unauthorised leave of absence from his Harvard studies.

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baron-pierreIV Posted on Mar. 29 2005,13:18

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So I guess Baron you've already marked out Oerter for 1964 and Zatopek for 1952? They're certainly in my mind for future polls for Tokyo and Helsinki, and without giving all my intentions away Emil Zatopek is certainly one of my all time faves.

And thanks for the nice words Roltel...one day we'll have to meet up at Sydney Olympic park and toast our memories of 2000 and all the GamesBid controversies since then with some fine ice cold lagers  :laughlong:

Yeah, I misread your post the first time.  I thot u were picking the >est Olymp. of all taym  (am trying out a new text language here).  

But for 1896, I've registered my vote for Garrett.  Spyridon Louis has all the romanticism around him because he is a hometown boy, and I think was the only Greek victory of those Games?  (I can check in my Book, but am lazy too).  

Note on Oerter: I'd pick him not for one (1) set of Games, but as cumulative greatness.  I mean his victory was not a one-shot (so to speak) deal.  

BTW, I hope you took no offense on the "Son-of-a-raunch in your sleep..remark."  I too have not figured out what makes that little troll tick.   :wink:

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baron-pierreIV Posted on Mar. 31 2005,08:44

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Quote  

baron-pierreIV Posted on Mar. 29 2005,13:18

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So I guess Baron you've already marked out Oerter for 1964 and Zatopek for 1952? They're certainly in my mind for future polls for Tokyo and Helsinki, and without giving all my intentions away Emil Zatopek is certainly one of my all time faves.

And thanks for the nice words Roltel...one day we'll have to meet up at Sydney Olympic park and toast our memories of 2000 and all the GamesBid controversies since then with some fine ice cold lagers  

Yeah, I misread your post the first time.  I thot u were picking the >est Olymp. of all taym  (am trying out a new text language here).  

But for 1896, I've registered my vote for Garrett.  Spyridon Louis has all the romanticism around him because he is a hometown boy, and I think was the only Greek victory of those Games?  (I can check in my Book, but am lazy too).  

Note on Oerter: I'd pick him not for one (1) set of Games, but as cumulative greatness.  I mean his victory was not a one-shot (so to speak) deal.  

BTW, I hope you took no offense on the "Son-of-a-raunch in your sleep..remark."  I too have not figured out what makes that little troll tick.    

No worries re the remark Baron...didn't see it and even if I did wouldn't be to much of a hassle (if we can all survive some of the flame wars from the Athens forum then a casual joke won't even sting  :laughlong: ).

I must admit that Spyridon Louis (and Mo, that is the correct spelling as per his entry in the IOC database, and my initial poll post entry on his name was mistyped) does have all the cachet (word of the day  :ooh: ), but in some respects his athletic prowess is defined by only one Olympic championship. Then again, it was the Marathon...arguably the most difficult event on the entire Olympic programme. I personally would like to have voted for Edwin Flack, mostly because he is an iconic Australian Olympian (not only our first athlete at the modern games but also our first medallist), but also because he also led for most of the marathon (when he dropped out through exhaustion he reportedly punched a Greek spectator for trying to help him   :laughlong: ), and he also participated in the tennis competition. However Spyridon must get my vote because ultimately his achievement set the modern games more firmly in popular culture and society as an important event.

As for Al Oerter, I'll be sure to include him in the toll, probably for 1964. I agree that his cumulative results mean that he can't be picked on just one gold medal at all of his Olympics. The same would have to be said of when it comes time to consider Steve Redgrave, or Birgit Fischer.

And for Mick the Mick, and all Irish GamesBids posters, I'd like to amend John Boland's nationality to Irish, and his first name is Pius. I know the IOC has him down as a GBR competitor but of course in the early Olympics no countries sent teams, only individuals competed. Plus PJ Boland was an Irish barrister.

Begorrah & Bedad!!

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No, it's really Al Oerter. I mean 4x consecutive gold medalist in the terribly obscure but gut-wrenching sport of shot-put!!  I mean who can equal that?  And he's(was) good-looking to boot.

Allow me to correct you, Baron... Al Oerter won his 4 golds in discus throw, not shot put... and the last of those medals was in Mexico City, so why choose him for Tokyo??

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Allow me to correct you, Baron... Al Oerter won his 4 golds in discus throw, not shot put... and the last of those medals was in Mexico City, so why choose him for Tokyo??

Are you senile?  As I said, didn't you see the second post:

You're right, tweedie!!  But you know, shot put, discus, flower vase, javelin, dwarf...same thing...something you throw across the room or field!!  
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