Carl Lewis was not only dominant as a track and field athlete, but he was untiringly consistent too. He competed in 100 m, 200 m, 400 x 100 m relay, and the long jump, and has set a number of world records in his career that almost spanned two decades. This dominance produced a total of nine Olympic gold medals, a silver, and astonishing ten world titles.
Carl Lewis was such an exceptional athlete in his prime that he was voted the “World Athlete of the Century.” He now owns C.L.E.G., a marketing and branding company that also promotes his own products.
Little did Shawn Johnson’s parents didn't know that enrolling her in gymnastics at the age of three would lead their daughter to international competitions. Like most parents, they just wanted their daughter to learn interesting skills while having fun, and it could have been in any sport. With her trainer’s encouragement and patience, Johnson developed her skills to reach a competitive level.
In 2008, she competed in the Summer Olympics in Beijing. She won the gold medal for the Balance Beam category and earned 3 silvers for the women’s gymnastics team. She hurt her knee while skiing in 2010, prompting her to retire from the sport.
McKayla Maroney is a retired artistic gymnast who was the first world champion (2011) to ever defend a vault title (2013). She also competed in the 2012 Olympics as a member of the Fierce Five, where she won a silver medal in the individual vault competition. She earned gold as well, for the team event.
Perhaps more popular than her record as an artistic gymnast is a photograph of her making a “not impressed” facial expression while awaiting her silver medal award at the Olympics. This image circulated the Internet- converted into memes, photoshopped for fun- but Maroney took it all with good humor. She was forced to retire due to a chronic injury and has transitioned into a career in entertainment.
While many athletes would be content to make it to the Olympics or win a medal at the highest level of competition, Michael Phelps aspired for so much more. He was regarded as the most successful Olympian in history, and definitely, the most decorated of all time, winning a total of 28 medals, with 23 of them being gold.
He first retired from the sport in 2012, after the London Olympics. But sensing he still had so much more left in him, plus being constantly challenged by a rival, re-ignited his passion to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, where he won his last five gold medals and a silver. He is widely regarded as the best swimmer in history.
As a track and field sprinter, Allyson Felix seems to be making a statement each time she competes. She specializes in the 100 m, 200 m, and 400m categories, but she’s also an advocate for an all-natural body enhancement approach. Having competed as an Olympian since the 2008 Olympics, she’s come to actually walk the talk by still competing up to this day. She plans to compete in the 2020 Olympics as well.
No woman has ever won six gold medals in her sport, a feat she proudly holds at the age of 30. She often speaks about the necessity to keep the sport clean and promotes regular, random illegal substance testing.