Lewis is simply the best Olympian of all time

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Faster, higher, stronger. That is the Olympic ideal. But who are the fastest, highest and strongest of all time? Who deserves the ultimate accolade as the greatest Olympian?

Comparing different sports and eras is intriguing if ultimately fruitless, because sportsmen can only beat the opposition of their day but here is a shot at our three greatest Olympians of the modern Games.

Carl Lewis: Greatest Olympian of all time. Brought unparalleled speed, power, grace and technique to athletics for a decade and his nine gold medals speak for themselves.

At his first Olympics in Los Angeles in 1984 he won four golds at 100 metres, 200m, long jump and 4x100m relay.

He won 100m and long jump gold in 1988 as well as silver in the 200m and in 1992, after suffering a viral infection at the US trials, added another long jump and relay gold.

Rounded off his 10 Olympic medals with long jump gold in Atlanta in 1996.

Simply the best.

Jesse Owens: The man who pushed open gates of opportunity for the likes of Lewis and generations of black athletes. Owens’ achievements at the 1936 Berlin Games cannot be underestimated. In the face of Adolf Hitler’s intimidating claims of ‘Aryan Supremacy’, Owens collected four golds in the 100m, 200m, sprint relay and the long jump.

In 1935 he set five world records and equalled a sixth in one day and his long jump world record lasted for more than 25 years.

Steve Redgrave: You can’t argue with five consecutive golds a phenomenal achievement in terms of enduring class and stamina.

But all the British rower’s medals came as part of a team and rowing, albeit one of the founding sports of the modern Games, does not produce the same intensity or depth of opposition as some of the more high-profile events.

As a sportsman, however, Redgrave is peerless. He even won the British Bobsled championship in 1989.