Saturday, 2:15 PM
Readers pick a figure from the past as best American athlete
By Globe Staff
Long, lean, and swift as a shark, swimmer Michael Phelps has created quite a buzz in his quest for gold at the Beijing Olympics. But is he the best American athlete ever?
Readers who responded to a non-scientific interactive survey posted yesterday on boston.com weren't that impressed. Phelps came out sixth.
Who was No. 1? Jim Thorpe was, receiving nearly a quarter of the more than 4,000 ballots cast. Thorpe was a half-Pottawatomie Indian, half-white athlete who won the gold medal in the pentathlon and the decathlon in the 1912 Olympic games and later played pro baseball and football.
Thorpe was followed by Michael Jordan, Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, and Muhammad Ali.
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