To be sure, all of the athletes listed here are amazing, leading their peers in their respective summer Olympic games, but let's go ahead and attempt to narrow down this competitive field. Who's your favorite summer Olympian?
Our favorite greats are:
Michael Phelps, who hardly needs an introduction. He's earned 20 Olympic medals to date (making him the most decorated Olympic athlete). Carl Lewis, a sprinter and long jumper who has won nine gold medals and one silver. He topped world records for more than a decade. Jesse Owens, a track and field four-time Olympic gold medalist. The USA's highest track and field award is named after him. Amid racial slurs and the Nazis' insistence of Aryan superiority, he was the most successful athlete at the 1936 games. Kim Rhode, the first American to win individual medals at five consecutive Olympics. In the current London games, she won the women's skeet shooting after a nearly perfect performance (99 out of 100), tying a world record and setting the Olympic mark. Jim Thorpe, who was unusually talented in a variety of sports, including football, basketball and baseball. His unprecedented performance at the 1912 Olympics won him the pentathlon and decathlon and eight of the 15 individual events. Larisa Latynina, who was the most decorated Olympian for 48 years, until Michael Phelps came along. Overall, she's won 18 Olympic medals. Greg Louganis, a four-time Olympic diving champion and considered by many to be the greatest diver in the world. Nadia Comaneci, the first female gymnast to be awarded a perfect score, 10, in gymnastics (at 14 years old no less), as well as three Olympic gold medals.
So who will it be? And who did we leave out? Did we forget your favorite Olympian? Give us your write-in vote in the comments below.
Voting for Round 1 runs through 11 a.m. August 3
Voting for Round 2 runs through 11 a.m. August 4
Voting for Round 3 (the final round) runs through 11 a.m. August 5