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Forbes List of the Top 20 Greatest Individual Sporting Achievements

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#1 of 45 OFFLINE   Nils Luehrmann

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Posted November 26 2005 - 12:29 AM

Forbes put together a panel of sports experts; including Bob Costas, Ellen Hughes, Robert Barnett, Linda Borish, Richard Crepeau and Mark Dyreson with the goal of making a list of candidates for "greatest individual athletic accomplishment of the last 150 years". This list was then voted on by the panel, editors of Forbes, as well as participating readers. (I did not see any details as to the weight of each vote)

And so here are the results:
[list=1][*] Roger banister breaks four-minute mile[*] Lance Armstrong wins seven consecutive Tours de France[*] Jesse Owens' four world records in 70 minutes[*] Nadia Comaneci's seven perfect 10s[*] Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak[*] Muhammad Ali's three heavyweight titles[*] Mark Spitz's seven gold medals[*] Gertrude Ederle's English Channel record swim[*] Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay climb Mt. Everest[*] Babe Ruth's 60 home runs in a season[*] Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game[*] Bob Beamon smashing world long jump record[*] Michael Jordan: Ten Seasons At The Top[*] Bobby Jones: Golf's Grand Slam[*] Wayne Gretzky: 2,857 Points[*] Martina Navratilova's 20 Wimbledon Titles[*] Bill Russell's 11 NBA Championships[*] Don Larsen's 1956 perfect world series game[*] Eric Heiden's five individual gold medals[*] Gordie Howe's 33 professional hockey seasons[/list=1]

You already know a list like this is going to create some controversy, but I found it interesting all the same.

(CLICK HERE to link to Forbes' published list, which also includes a nice gallery of pics, as well as responses by many of the athletes in the Top 20 list, and who they personally feel deserves to be on top.)

#2 of 45 OFFLINE   Jay H

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Posted November 26 2005 - 12:38 AM

Interesting... as a cyclist, I don't include Lance's 7 consecutive wins an individual sport. He is on a team of 9 riders and there is no way any one person can win the Tour de France without his teammates... One of the biggest misconception of pro road cycling is that it is an individual sport. Of course, I know that most of the world thinks it is so that is why nobody has heard of anybody other than Lance in the general public. Kind of similar to the fact that both Gretsky and Orr were on Hockey teams...

...and just a kudos to Forbes for at least listing Tenzing Norgay on the list with Sir Edmund Hillary.. Hillary's first recorded ascent of Everest certainly wasn't a solo effort.

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#3 of 45 OFFLINE   Armando Zamora

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Posted November 26 2005 - 04:38 AM

Like Nils said, a list like this will always drum up some controversy. Here's a couple more that I think are worthy to be on this list:

Cal Ripken's longest consecutive-games played streak in baseball history (2,632 games).

Ripken didn't win anything, but it was certainly a great individual accomplishment. I guess if you can include Gordie Howe's 33 professional hockey seasons, you can consider Cal's accomplishment as well.

Dan Gable's 182-1 wrestling record (high school and collegiate career).

As a former wrestler, Dan Gable's achievement is mind-boggling.

#4 of 45 OFFLINE   Dennis Nicholls

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Posted November 26 2005 - 08:39 AM

Dick Fosbury re-invented the high jump...he should be noted for this.

The most amazing solo performance was probably the great Dane, Paul Elvstrom. He won 4 Olympic gold medals the hard way....the same event in 4 different Olympic games! Posted Image His event was single-handled sailing.
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#5 of 45 OFFLINE   Haggai



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Posted November 26 2005 - 08:46 AM

At least two other male athletes also won the same event in 4 different Olympic games: Al Oerter in discus, and Carl Lewis in the long jump.

#6 of 45 OFFLINE   Christ Reynolds

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Posted November 26 2005 - 09:41 AM

i'm just happy to see hockey represented twice.

not many of those near the end were considered "professional" Posted Image

i'd have included bobby orr instead of howe. or lemieux taking the penguins from dead last to two stanley cups in 8 years.

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#7 of 45 OFFLINE   Brian Perry

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Posted November 26 2005 - 10:54 AM

I would add Nolan Ryan's 7 no-hitters.

#8 of 45 OFFLINE   James T

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Posted November 26 2005 - 12:38 PM

I think Ben Johnson should be on the list for testing postive for steroids twice. That's an achievement.

#9 of 45 OFFLINE   Jason L.

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Posted November 26 2005 - 03:08 PM

1. Don Larsen should be omitted. Some guy got lucky and pitched a perfect game. Big deal. How about these: 1. If your going to put Dan Gable there, you have to put Cael Sanderson. He won 4 state titles in High School, won 4 NCAA titles [and went undefeated, 159-0!], and won the Gold at the 2004 Olymipics. 2. Edwin Moses who won gold medals in the 400-meter hurdles at the 1976 and 1984 Summer Olympics [surely he would have also won in 1980 if it weren't for the boycott]. Between 1977 and 1987, Moses won 107 consecutive finals (122 consecutive races). He set the world record in his event four times. 3. Marvin Hagler being Middleweight champion for a decade or so. 4. Alexander Karelin won gold medals at the 1988, 1992, and 1996 Olympic Games. He he went undefeated in international competition from 1987 until 2000, when he was upset by American Rulon Gardner in the gold-medal match at the Summer Olympics. Karelin went the last six years of his unbeaten streak without giving up a point.

#10 of 45 OFFLINE   LewB



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Posted November 27 2005 - 01:55 AM

I always add Secretariat's 1973 Belmont Stakes (and triple crown) to these lists. I remember watching the race on TV. Talk about 'shock and awe' ! The TV lens was unable to keep Secretariat and the rest of the field in the same shot.

#11 of 45 OFFLINE   MarkHastings


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Posted November 27 2005 - 11:37 AM

But the same can be said about the baseball, hockey, & basketball achievements. Gretzky couldn't have scored ALL of those points without great teammates and assists Posted Image

#12 of 45 OFFLINE   Carl Miller

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Posted November 27 2005 - 02:25 PM

As a tennis fan, I'd rather see Steffi Graf's 22 grand slam singles on the list. At least half of Martina's 20 Wimbledon titles were for doubles play.

#13 of 45 OFFLINE   Chris Lockwood

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Posted November 27 2005 - 04:00 PM

How about when Rocky beat Apollo Creed?

#14 of 45 OFFLINE   Dave Poehlman

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Posted November 28 2005 - 04:07 AM

21. Sonya Thomas eating 37 hot dogs in 12 minutes.

#15 of 45 OFFLINE   Yee-Ming



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Posted November 28 2005 - 01:42 PM

Too America-centric. No references to "the beautiful game" of Pele, the most widely played (and watched) sport in the world? How about Pele's three World Cups, or his 1,000+ goals for Santos? Maradona just about single-handedly winning the 1986 World Cup for Argentina? Gerd Muller's 14 goals in World Cup Finals? Or Just Fontaine's 13 in a single Finals? Geoff Hurst's hat-trick in the 1966 Final? On the European stage, Johan Cruyff's three consecutive European Cups with Ajax, or Franz Beckenbauer's three straight with Bayern Munich? And if you're going to give points for longevity, how about Paolo Maldini's 20 (yes, TWENTY) seasons "at the top" with AC Milan? Or Sir Stanley Matthews playing professionally till 50? Scoring in single league game: Ted Drake's seven goals for Arsenal against Aston Villa. Yes, I can hear the objections already, the list is about individual achievement, football is played with a team of 11. Then strike all your baseball, hockey and basketball players off the list.

#16 of 45 OFFLINE   Christ Reynolds

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Posted November 28 2005 - 02:33 PM

meh. and keep the soccer/football players? you're contradicting yourself in the same post! this is about individual achievments in all sports, not just non-team sports. i never thought of pele. a glaring omission. CJ
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#17 of 45 OFFLINE   Patrick_S



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Posted November 28 2005 - 02:41 PM

While I agree that all Football, (Both American and non-American) Hockey and Basketball achievements should be taken off the list some baseball achievements should remain. Hitting a Home Run is an individual achievement. No other member of the player’s team is involved so it is definitely an individual achievement. The same can be said for hitting streaks. It's the just the batter verses the defense of the other team. That being the case they can remain on the list.

#18 of 45 OFFLINE   Chris Lockwood

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Posted November 28 2005 - 03:36 PM

Several of those are records that have since been broken, some multiple times, so how can they still be on the list? People have run faster than Bannister, a lot have climbed Everest, and so on.

#19 of 45 OFFLINE   Yee-Ming



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Posted November 28 2005 - 06:50 PM

Only because the Forbes list does so in the first place. Since they celebrate exemplary performances within the context of team sports, I merely pointed out that no football achievements had been included, a glaring omission considering the worldwide popularity of football. And hence my challenge: if football players had been excluded on the basis that they were part of a team/squad, albeit the "star player", by the same token Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky were also part of a team. Sorry if my rant made that unclear -- I am not saying include the footy players and exclude the rest. Interesting point about baseball players and batting records, though. On that basis, couldn't basketball free-throw records be retained? I think it gets a bit arbitrary, though, in dealing with anything that is ultimately a team sport.

#20 of 45 OFFLINE   Lew Crippen

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Posted November 28 2005 - 11:31 PM

Indeed they have—and others will continue to break existing records. In fact the mile is almost now non-existent in top competition, as most races are run over metric distances (the marathon excepted). Regardless, no one else will ever be able to be the first to break the 4-minute mile. At the time there were many who seriously believed that was an unbreakable barrier. And even though Banister trained specifically for that record (and even had a pace man in the race) his accomplishment stunned the sporting world. As you point out, the time is by now, routine, and almost no serious race over that distance could be won with such a (by now) slow time. The same with Everst—climbing it is now (almost) routine—it happens so often that you have to sign up well in advance to make the climb. But many had tried—and failed to climb Everest before Tenzing and Hillary finally succeded, just as no one until Banister managed the 4-minute mile. That they were the ones to prove that it could be done, speaks volumes.
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