ROGER Federer is ready to begin his quest for his 18th Grand Slam title at the US Open. He is often said to be the greatest tennis player of all time, but who else would figure at the top of the sporting tree?
With every touch of the ball, every pass and every dribble, Pele was capable of coming up with something new — something fans had never seen before. With a killer instinct in front of goal, an eye for the perfect pass and supreme athleticism, the Brazilian was just about the perfect footballer. He won three World Cups with Brazil in 1958, 1962 and 1970.
BOXING: MUHAMMAD ALI
The American boxer who floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee is one of the most recognisable sports figures of the past 100 years. As Cassius Clay, he became an Olympic gold medalist in 1960 and was heralded as an American hero.
During the 1960s he was unstoppable, winning all of his bouts with majority of them by knockouts. He took out British heavyweight champion Henry Cooper in 1963 and then knocked out Sonny Liston in 1964 to become heavyweight champion of the world.
RUGBY: GARETH EDWARDS
The great Wales scrum-half is peerless. Had a great pass, was strong, tackled fearlessly, was hugely dangerous with ball in hand and was an astute kicker. The complete player. Scored arguably the greatest try in history for the Barbarians against New Zealand in 1973 and enjoyed two wonderful partnerships, firstly with Barry John, then with Phil Bennett.
FORMULA 1: AYRTON SENNA
Ayrton Senna was a legend of of the FI circuit. Arguably faster than any other driver during his ten-year career, he achieved three World Championship titles, 41 Grand Prix wins and 65 pole positions.
Following the legend’s tragic death in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, many safety improvements were made in the sport.
ATHLETICS: HAILE GEBRSELASSIE
It takes a special man to prevent Usain Bolt from appearing on our list.
Then again, Haile Gebrselassie was a special man.
Unquestionably the greatest, most versatile distance runner in history, the Ethiopian World and Olympic champion has two world records under his belt .
It was at the 1996 Olympics where Gebrselassie was first introduced to the world stage when he won the 10,000m. Then, in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Gebrselassie became only the third man in Olympic history to defend a 10,000m title.
After his track career ended he turned his attention to the roads. Gebrselassie would go on to win the Berlin Marathon a record four times, and broke the world record twice.
GOLF: JACK NICKLAUS
Nicklaus won 18 Majors — twice as many as all but two other golfers — in a stellar career. He finished second 19 times, and third nine times. In all, Nicklaus posted He finished in the top ten no fewer than 73 times in majors. His win at the age of 46 in the 1986 US Masters is still considered one of sport’s great moments.
He beats off a field including Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead and Tiger Woods to top our golf list.
SKIING: BODE MILLER
One of the world’s most successful alpine skiers, American Bode Miller has captured the attention of the world with his incredible athletic balance and ability to produce jaw-dropping performances on skis.
The two-time World Cup overall champion, four-time World Champion and six-time Olympic medalist has risen to become one of the most prolific international athletes. Sees off the likes of Franz Klammer and Ingemar Stenmark in our countdown.
BASKETBALL: MICHAEL JORDAN
Michael Jordan, who exploded onto the NBA scene in the 1990s, is widely considered the most dominant basketball player in history. He won the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award five times, and six times led the Chicago Bulls to the league championship. His combination of grace, speed, power, artistry, improvisational ability and competitive desire secured his place in basketball’s hall of fame.
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