Culture

Michael Phelps Just Tied A 2,000-Year-Old Olympic Record 

by Kate Ryan

August 10, 2016
Source: Flickr

Tuesday night, Michael Phelps won two more gold medals. Beyond making his mother extremely proud with those wins, Phelps beat all kinds of records as well. His career total of 21 gold medals and 25 medals overall makes him the most decorated American Olympic athlete ever. And thanks to his personal victory in the 200m butterfly, Phelps has 12 medals from individual races, causing him to tie with ancient athlete Leonidas of Rhodes.

In addition to organizing the world’s greatest sporting event every four years, the International Olympic Committee also keeps meticulous statistics. It turns out the Classical and Hellenistic-era Greeks mimicked this modern fastidiousness with their own detailed record of events, and Olympic historian and Twitter user Bill Mallon drew our collective attention to this awesome fact. Apparently, Leonidas of Rhodes was a talented sprinter, claiming twelve Olympic gold medals of his own—or rather wreaths, the top prize at the time.

That athletic feat happened way back in 164 B.C.E. during the 154th Olympiad when Leonidas completed the “triple” in record time. Let’s not forget that back then, Olympic sprinters donned helmets, greaves, and shields weighing more than 50 pounds in total.

Let’s just say Phelps has it fairly easy only having to wear a Speedo to compete. It seems this fact can help us gain perspective on multiple levels. 

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Michael Phelps Just Tied A 2,000-Year-Old Olympic Record