With 18 gold medals, he has twice the number won by the next in the all-time list - Spitz, Latynina, Carl Lewis and Paavo Nurmi. His achievements in Beijing understandably have rather overshadowed Athens four years earlier when he still won six gold and two bronze medals, another phenomenal performance.
Michael Phelps now has his own place in history as the most decorated Olympian of all time. At the moment 22 medals seems almost out of reach and you wonder if anyone will be able to match him in the future. I would pay tribute to his strength and his determination throughout his career and particularly to his success in Beijing when he won eight gold medals. I know exactly what it’s like to win a large number of medals at one Olympiad and the pressure builds over the two weeks as you become more and more the centre of attention. To keep focused and to keep performing at your best takes a strong will and outstanding physique. I congratulate him whole-heartedly on this Award.MARK SPITZ, LAUREUS ACADEMY MEMBER