29 May 2012

Greatest Olympians?

Every time the Olymics come round there will be more than a few subjective lists of the greatest olympians of all time. The lists will inevitably, but rightly include the likes of Jesse Owens, Fanny Blankers-Koen, Nadia Comaneci, Michael Pehlps, Mark Spitz, Steve Redgrave, Paavo Nurmi and so on. Choosing the greatest out of the contenders is pointless. Comparing an athlete, to a rower, to a gymnast or whichever sport  and so on is like comparing apples, oranges and lychees. Personally I would treat the greats as a pantheon rather than try to rank them. All of the above deserve their place in the pantheon without doubt

On criterion which is sometimes overlooked when writers complie their list of greats is longevity. Admittedly some sports are more amenable to longevity than others:  fencing, sailing, shooting and equestrian sports in particular.

That said staying at the top in these events is a major achievement and just two sportsmen have managed to compete at nine olympic games: Austrian sailor Hubert Raudaschl and Canadian show jumper Ian Miller

Raudaschl on an Austrian phonecard

Born in 1942 Hubert Raudaschl competed at the Tokyo, Mexico, Munich, Montreal, Moscow, Los Angeles, Seoul, Bacelona and Atlanta games. He  won silver medals at the Mexico and Moscow games.

Millar at the Beijing Olympics - pic from CBC

Born in 1947, Ian Millar has competed at the Munich, Montreal, Los Angeles, Seoul, Atlanta, Sydney, Athens and Beijing games. His only medal, a silver, came at Beijing when the Canadian took second place in the show umping event. He is on course for a place on the Canadian team at London, possibly with his son and daughter

Neither sportsman has been showered with Olympic glory but their sheer persistence in the top flight of their respective sports is more than just commendable.

More to follow


SnoopyTheGoon said...

I wonder about longevity in equestrian sports: do they count all these folks who fell from the beast head down or were stepped on? Hm...

jams o donnell said...

Well they used to say about the cavalry that the brains were in the horses...