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Michael Phelps is the greatest Olympian ever, right? Wrong, says Seb Coe

“I could throw out a whole series of names. I could throw out Steve Redgrave. I could throw out domestically Daley Thompson.”

United States' Michael Phelps competes in a men's 200-metre individual medley.
United States' Michael Phelps competes in a men's 200-metre individual medley.
Image: Michael Sohn/AP/Press Association Images

LONDON GAMES CHIEF Sebastian Coe says Michael Phelps, the most decorated ever Olympian, is not the greatest of all time.

Phelps, 27, set a new record in London after collecting his 19th medal with gold in the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay. The American swimmer has won an unprecedented 15 gold medals over three Olympic campaigns, but Coe believes picking the best is ‘the great global pub game’.

“Clearly and self evidently from the medal tally he is the most successful,” Coe told reporters. ”It is a pretty good haul, but who is the greatest? In my opinion he is probably not.

“My opinion is no different from anyone else. I could go around this whole room. We’d all come up with different interpretations on that. ”

Coe, who won four Olympic medals, including the 1500m gold at Moscow 1980 and Los Angeles 1984, is the chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games. He added: “I could throw out a whole series of names. I could throw out Steve Redgrave. I could throw out domestically Daley Thompson.

“I wanted to go back a few generations, what Jesse Owens did in 1936 was unbelievable. Nadia Comaneci. I don’t know.”

Phelps, who will retire after the London Games, surpassed former Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina to become the record holder for most Olympic medals won.

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