Usain Bolt’s Olympics Record Compared With Other Greats Like Michael Phelps

Published 01/02/2022, 9:00 AM EST
BEIJING – AUGUST 20: Usain Bolt of Jamaica reacts after breaking the world record with a time of 19.30 to win the gold medal in the Men’s 200m Final ahead of Churandy Martina of Netherlands Antilles Brian Dzingai of Zimbabwe and Shawn Crawford of the United States at the National Stadium during Day 12 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 20, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)


Two names that are most likely to be remembered by everyone would be Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps. Whether one of the fastest men on land while the other on the water, these two have elevated their sport to another level. Moreover, they brought incredible glory to their country with their outstanding talents. Possessing unique personalities, they used their success to be influential role models for many people.

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But, one uncertain thing would be to select the better of these two athletes. They have a similar approach in passion and determination. This has kept them above the ranks when compared with other talented athletes. However, who is better?

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Usain Bolt vs Michael Phelps

Ironically, both came to taste success during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Bolt won three gold medals during those games while setting world records in both the 100 and 200-meters. Although he lost a medal for the 4 × 100-meters relay competition because of a failed doping test by his teammate, his individual events performances were outstanding. Both the 100 and 200-meters competitions were the pinnacle of any sport. The tag of the fastest man alive is prestigious and Bolt may be there for a long time to come.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 14: Usain Bolt of Jamaica competes in the Men’s 100 meter semifinal on Day 9 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 14, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

However, during those same Olympic Games, Michael Phelps produced history by winning eight gold medals. The last person to win as many medals in a single Olympic Games was Mark Spitz back in the 1972 Munich Games. He broke his record of seven gold medals by adding another one in Beijing. Likewise, with those eight gold medals, Phelps created several world records along with those victories. The greater achievement between these two has come to the forefront on many an occasion. But, figuring out who the better one is would be a hard task.

How many world records does each of them have?

As of right now, Usain Bolt holds three world records while Phelps has three himself. Bolt is the current world record holder of the 100, 200, and 4 × 100-meters relay competition. On the other hand, Phelps has world records in the 400-meters individual medley, 4 × 100-meters freestyle relay, and 4 × 200-meters freestyle relay. Narrowing it down to individual competitions, Bolt has the upper hand.

The current 100-meters and 200-meters world record looks unlikely to be broken. A time of 9.58 in the 100-meters is as fast as a human can be. Likewise, Michael Johnson’s long-standing 200-meters record is something that none expected to be broken. He beat it by 0.1 seconds in Beijing but bettered that during the 2009 World Championships in Berlin with a time of 19.19. That’s incredible.

18 Sep 2000: Michael Phelps of the USA in action during the Mens 200m Butterfly Heats at the Sydney International Aquatic Centre on Day Three of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. Mandatory Credit: Ross Kinnaird /Allsport

Meanwhile, Phelps holds the first eight of the top 10 timings in the 400-meter individual medley. His dominance in every stroke is a testament to the hard work put by him every year. Being a world record holder in the medley is not easy as one should master each stroke perfectly. Hence, Phelps’ claims of being the greatest swimmer of all time are cemented through this world record. When everything is said and done, these two will be remembered for the incredible performances they showcased.

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Do Biles and Ledecky come into the discussion with Usain Bolt?

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While these two have dominated the Olympics, there are two other athletes who are supremely talented. The US swimmer Katie Ledecky is on her way to becoming a legend. She won her first medal back in the 800-meters freestyle competition when she was 15. From there, she won three consecutive gold medals in the same competition while adding another four in various freestyle competitions.

Then there is Simone Biles. Taking a hiatus from the sport seems to be doing wonders for her. After her infamous withdrawal from gymnastics competitions during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, she is focusing on other priorities. However, during the 2016 Rio Olympics, she won four gold medals. Still young, she can reach Bolt’s medal tally if she wins another four in three years at the 2024 Paris Olympics. But for now, Bolt and Phelps are on top of the world.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 17: Simone Biles of the United States performs on the beam during the Gymnastics Rio Gala on Day 12 of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games on August 17, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

To distinguish these two talented athletes is not easy. While one is the fastest man alive, the other is the greatest swimmer of all time. Two incredible personalities, Bolt and Phelps are the benchmarks for other athletes to come in and match. That’s the dominance they showed in their incredible careers.

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Jacob Gijy

823 articles

Jacob Gijy is a US Sports and NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Gijy finished his Masters in Counselling Psychology and worked in a hospital for 2 years before his passion for sports compelled him to find his way to sports journalism. A fan of the great Tim Duncan, he is always ready to pick up a debate with anyone who does not offer the center the respect he deserves.

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