NEWS

Leonidas Of Rhodes' Olympic Record Equalled By Michael Phelps 2,000 Year On

He truly is the GOAT now.

12/08/2016 12:38

Michael Phelps won his 13th individual Olympic gold (his 22nd overall) on Thursday night, officially making him the athlete with the most individual medals in history.

But while many have labelled him the GOAT (that’s Greatest Of All Time) for a while, it is actually only now that he can rightfully claim that title.

With his victory in the 200m individual medley at the Rio Olympics, the US swimmer finally beat the 2,168-year-old record held by Leonidas of Rhodes.

DEA / G. DAGLI ORTI via Getty Images
An athlete is crowned after winning an event at the ancient Olympics

While Phelps’ medals are for a range of swimming events, Leonidas specialised in foot races (none of which exist any more).

Here’s how the athletes measure up...

Born

Michael Phelps of USA: 1985 AD

Leonidas of Rhodes: 188 BC

Winning Events

Michael Phelps of the USA: 

  • 100 m butterfly
  • 200 m butterfly
  • 200 m medley
  • 400 m medley
  • 4×200 m freestyle
  • 4×100 m medley
  • 200 m freestyle
  • 4×100 m freestyle
LOUISA GOULIAMAKI via Getty Images
A revival of the hoplitodromos, one of Leonidas' winning events

Leonidas of Rhodes:

  • Stadion - this was the premier event of the gymnikos agon, the nude competition. This was a 200-yard (approximately 180m) run. The winner of this was often considered to be the overall winner of the games. 

  • Diaulos - this was approximately double the length of the stadion. Competitors ran up to a post, ran around it and back to the start line.

  • Hoplitodromos - the “race of soldiers”. Instead of running naked, competitors wore a helmet, greaves (shin armour) and shield used by soldiers. The combined weight of this came to around 50lbs (22kg). This was usually the same distance as the diaulos event. 

Carole Raddato
The stadion and diaulos were nude events
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Michael Phelps takes part in the men's 200m individual medley

Olympics They Have Taken Part In

Michael Phelps of the USA: 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 (so far)

Leonidas of Rhodes: 164BC, 160BC, 156BC and 152BC

Individual Gold Medals

Michael Phelps of the USA: 13

Leonidas of Rhodes: 12

Overall Gold Medals

Michael Phelps of the USA: 22

Leonidas of Rhodes: 12

Picture Post via Getty Images
Olympic runners depicted on an ancient Greek vase given as a prize in the Panathenaea, c525 BC

Age At Final Gold

Michael Phelps of the USA: Who knows? He’s currently 31 and still winning golds.

Leonidas of Rhodes: 36

We actually know very little about Leonidas, aside from the year he was born and the records of his Olympic prowess.

However, according to the BBC, a statue of him in his homeland displayed the claim: “He had the speed of a God.”

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