Michael Phelps
(left, Chang W. Lee/The New York Times; right, Doug Mills/The New York Times)

More Impressive Olympian: Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt?

Michael Phelps vs. Usain Bolt. Who was a more impressive Olympic athlete? Some of the Vendetta crew weighed in.

Garrett Burroughs

On paper it almost sounds like splitting hairs, because you’re talking about two of the greatest Olympic performers in the history of the Games. Obviously, if you are just looking at numbers, Michael Phelps’ 28 total medals dwarfs Usain Bolt’s 9 Golds. That’s the argument for MJ isn’t it? He’s 6-0 in the NBA Finals, therefore he’s the GOAT. But the reason I give my vote to Phelps as the better of the two is because Phelps competed and won in most of the competitions of swimming: freestyle, backstroke, butterfly, relay. The fact that he was able to win multiple events and make it look easy in most cases is why I give him the nod as the more impressive Olympic athlete.

Alex Cervantes

Michael Phelps is the more impressive Olympic athlete. Phelps competed in five Olympic Games, while Usain did three. Both athletes’ events have notoriously shorter tenures, at least in terms of a player remaining in their prime, or relative prime, but the longevity of both is respectable. I’ll also add that Phelps’ first Olympics was merely an introduction. He won 23 Golds, which is 14 more than the next closest athlete. That is utter dominance. Also, 40% of his non-gold medals were team races, so you make of that what you will. Plus, Phelps, in my mind, was only in his ‘prime’ at two Olympics. In both 2004 and 2008 he swam in eight events – in 2012 and 2016 he swam in six- and we all know what he did in Beijing. Sweeping every event you swim in is such a ridiculous feat that I am willing to put money on the fact that no one will do it again in my lifetime. Bolt is an incredible athlete, the fastest man in world history, and a great personality, but Phelps edges him out.

Tanner Pike

Phelps is the most dominant Olympian of all time. Every time he entered the water we expected him to win. Didn’t matter what event it was – he was there to impose his will. He made watching swimming relevant.

Aarav Raina

Michael Phelps and it’s not close. His versatility (considering all the different events he had success in), number of medals, and longevity are superior.

Final Score: Michael Phelps wins 4-0


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