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London 2012: Who is the greatest Olympian of all time?
12:27pm Tuesday 10th July 2012 in Lewisham
Who would you pick as the greatest Olympian of all time? As London 2012 approaches, DAVID MILLS looks at the candidates.
JESSE OWENS (1913-1980)
Owens won four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics in 1936, an achievement made all the more incredible given the fact that this was a black athlete competing in racist Nazi Germany.
Hitler had hoped the games would demonstrate Aryan ability and power.
Instead Berliners embraced Owens, who won the 100m, 200m, long jump and was part of the winning 4x100m relay team.
FANNY BLANKERS-KOEN (1918-2004)
Nicknamed the "Flying Housewife", Blankers-Koen was a 30-year-old mother of two when she won four gold medals at the London games in 1948.
She won the 100m, 200m, 80m hurdles and 4x100m relay.
It could have been more but for rules limiting the number of events an athlete could enter.
Blankers-Koen was voted female athlete of the 20th century in a poll for the International Association of Athletics Federations.
NADIA COMANECI (1961-)
At the age of just 14, the Romanian gymnast was the winner of three gold medals at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
She became the first female gymnast to be awarded a perfect score of 10 in an Olympic gymnast event.
Comaneci also picked up two gold medals at the 1980 Moscow games.
MUHAMMAD ALI (1942-)
There aren't many Olympians who throw their medals away.
After winning gold in light heavyweight boxing at the 1960 Rome Olympics, Ali claimed he chucked his medal into the Ohio River when he was turned away at a "whites-only" restaurant.
He was given a replacement medal during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta where he lit the torch to start the games.
RICHARD FOSBURY (1947-)
Not only did this Olympian win gold in the high jump in the 1968 Mexico City games, but he reinvented the sport.
Until the "Fosbury Flop", high jumpers would beat the bar by swinging their legs over followed by the rest of their body.
Fosbury revolutionised the high jump by leaping head first and curving his back to avoid removing the post, cementing his place in Olympic history.
SIR STEVE REDGRAVE (1962-)
Hailed as Britain's greatest ever Olympian, the British rower won gold medals at five consecutive games from Los Angeles 1984 to Sydney 2000.
His success in the coxless fours in Australia was particularly special given the fact Redgrave had been battling diabetes.
He was knighted in 2001.
USAIN BOLT (1986-)
The Jamaican sprinter won three gold medals in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay at the Beijing games in 2008 - achieving a world and Olympic record.
He ran 9.69s for the 100m, 19.30s in the 200 m and also set a 4×100 m relay record of 37.10s with the Jamaican team.
The 25-year-old is nicknamed "Lightning Bolt" by the media.
MICHAEL PHELPS (1985-)
The American swimmer has won a total of 16 Olympic medals - six gold and two bronze at Athens in 2004 and eight gold at Beijing in 2008.
He holds the record for the most gold medals won in a single Olympics after his Beijing eight topped the seven golds won by swimmer Mark Spitz at Munich in 1972.
Phelps also claims the record for the most Olympic gold medals.
Who do you think is the greatest Olympian of all time? Vote in our poll below.
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