Thank goodness Michael Phelps won his eight gold medals. It would have been a shame to waste all that good hype. This is from the normally un-gushy Christian Science Monitor, under the headline "The Phelps Olympics: An epic fit for ancient Greece":
Almost without question, he is now “the greatest swimmer in history,” says David Wallechinsky, author of “The Complete Book of the Olympics.”
He is the winningest Gold Medalist in the history of the modern Olympics. Trying to jump from that defensible fact to other superlatives is something we ought to be careful attaching "almost without question" to. At lest Wallechinsky doesn't say Phelps is the best Olympic athlete ever, which I've heard a lot in the last two days. Later there is this:
Simply by the numbers, his eight gold medals is something that could only be accomplished in swimming or gymnastics, making the debate over whether he is the greatest Olympian problematic.
The reason is that no other sports offer an athlete