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Old 06-24-2008, 01:12 PM   #1
Brennan Browne
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Post The World's Greatest Athlete?

The Wall Street Journal just published their top-10 list of the greatest athletes in the world.

"The Wall Street Journal asked a panel of sports experts to sift through a mountain of data and pick the fastest, strongest, most agile man on Earth."

"The competitors were ranked based on six criteria: speed; vision and reflex; stamina and recovery; coordination and flexibility; power, strength and size; and success and competitiveness."

Here is the list:

1. Roman Sebrle, decathlete
2. LeBron James, basketball
3. Floyd Mayweather, boxer
4. LaDainian Tomlinson, american football
5. Roger Federer, tennis
6. Sidney Crosby, hockey
7. Liu Xiang, 110-meter hurdler
8. Jeremy Wariner, 400-meter sprinter
9. Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, football (soccer)
10. Alex Rodriguez, baseball

I think the list is credible and like the criteria. "Success and competitiveness" is probably the most controversial aspect. While I could think of many athletes that might deserve to be on this list, one glaring exclusion is Tiger Woods. Thoughts?

Read the whole article while it's still free (wfs):
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Old 06-24-2008, 01:20 PM   #2
Brian Bedell
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Re: The World's Greatest Athlete?

I'm not impressed with Woods physical capabilities, although his focus, concentration, and drive are unparalled. I would add/consider:

Michael Jordan
Bo Jackson
Deion Sanders

There are a ton of people that could be on that list, but Jordan really stands out.
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Old 06-24-2008, 01:23 PM   #3
Gavin Harrison
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Re: The World's Greatest Athlete?

First, golfers don't have to display very much athleticism in order to do well. Mostly technique and skill, not too much power, strength, speed, agility, etc, etc, which they explained to be the reason for his exclusion. However, I don't agree with some of the choices on the list, mostly the sprinters. Sprinters seem too one dimensional to me, especially since the decathlon includes those two specific events, but is a more rounded contest in terms of athleticism..
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Old 06-24-2008, 01:27 PM   #4
Scott Allen Hanson
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Re: The World's Greatest Athlete?

This article was the rest day discussion subject last week-end. You might refer to comments from that day for opinions.
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Old 06-24-2008, 01:28 PM   #5
Jamie J. Skibicki
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Re: The World's Greatest Athlete?

Why no gymnasts or grapplers? Strongmen competitors as well. I think GSP is a better overall athlete than Mayweather.
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Old 06-24-2008, 01:54 PM   #6
Benjamin Walsh
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Re: The World's Greatest Athlete?

He may be getting older, but I would add the Russian freestyle wrestler, Buvaisar Saitiev, who won gold in '96 and '04. You can find plenty of videos. Simply amazing. His speed, flexibility and balance are incredible. Brandon Slay (an American) upset him in '00. You can find that match and a great interview with Slay about how he prepared. Basically, Slay watched hundreds of hours of video and convinced a friend who didn't qualify for the Olympics to "become" Saitiev. They trained together for a month. When they finally met, Slay felt like he'd faced Saitiev many times before. He won 4-3 in overtime.

I would provide links but the network I'm on blocks most video sites. has lots of good wrestling.
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Old 06-24-2008, 02:04 PM   #7
Brennan Browne
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Re: The World's Greatest Athlete?

I see now that Tiger is mentioned in the "Criteria" tab under "Success & Competitiveness". I agree with the comments above.

I'll have to check out the rest day discussion when I get home. I'd like to see everyone's thoughts.
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Old 06-24-2008, 02:13 PM   #8
Leonid Soubbotine
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Re: The World's Greatest Athlete?

Very interesting that no gymnasts or weightlifters are mentioned.
CrossFit Evolution
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Old 06-24-2008, 02:18 PM   #9
Shane Skowron
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Re: The World's Greatest Athlete?

These are the most contradictory guidelines for defining the world's greatest athlete. You can't combine elements of fitness (like speed, strength, coordination, etc) with popularity and success of sport because in our world they are generally mutually exclusive. The fittest guy on the planet probably is Roman Sebrle, but the next 9 greatest decathaletes are easily fitter than anyone else on there!

And the most popular and successful athletes are definitely not the fittest. Look at Tiger Woods: he can hit a ball real well. Alex Rodriguez can hit a ball well and run across the plates quickly. Tom Brady can throw a ball real well and dodge tacklers sometimes. None of them can run a 5:00 mile, do 30 pullups, or deadlift 500#.

They should have either had a list of "World's Fittest Athlete" or "World's Most Successful Athlete" but combining the two turns into a joke. It's like ranking the world's best cars based on how many they sell and how well they run.....I either want to know which sells better or which runs better, not at the same time!

They criticize endurance athletes like marathoners and cyclists for being too one-dimensional, but yet they pick a 400m sprinter? I can understand that picking a world class marathon runner is unfair because he mostly focuses on endurance and stamina, but a world class sprinter focuses on just as few elements of fitness!

Floyd Mayweather was not ranked higher because of his small size? Is this a bodybuilding competition?

Other than their pick for #1, I think this list is pretty stupid. They just picked some popular athletes and tried to rank them in order of how "fit" they thought they were.

In my opinion, the best athlete is someone who can accomplish virtually anything physical at a very good to excellent level and be better on the average at it than anyone else.
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Old 06-24-2008, 02:26 PM   #10
Gant Grimes
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Re: The World's Greatest Athlete?

Weightlifters and gymnasts make up a comparatively small segment of WSJ readership (of course decathletes are, too, but they've always been regarded as the (World's Greatest Athlete"). It's all about economics.
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