T Nation

Top 10 Athletes of Today


I was reading the recent 'top 10 fittest sports athletes' thread and thought who are the top 10 athletes in the world, in your opinion?
For me its, in no particular order
Kobe Bryant
Lebron James
Usain Bolt
Lionel Messi
Fedor Emilianenko
Anderson Silva
And thats as far as I got as I'm tired from todays workout :stuck_out_tongue: But I am interested in everyone's opinions.


Chris Johnson


What makes an athlete a "top" athlete? Is it strictly success within his/her sport, or does his popularity/recognizability come into play as well? Does the popularity of the sport come into play? Regarding Fedor, Silva and GSP: I would not put them anywhere near the top ten as of yet. While I certainly know who they are, there are way too many people out there who don't know who they are at all and who are still huge sports fans. None of those fighters have any real visibility outside of their sport, meaning that the only people who really know them are those who are fans of MMA. And, uh, no Tiger Woods?

Here's my list in no particular order, based on worldwide recognizability, success in their sport, and of course only considering those who are still active. Two things I ask myself when considering someone is: do people who don't follow their sport know who they are and do they have visibility/recognizability outside of their home country? These athletes all have been extremely successful in their sport and have worldwide visibility.

Tiger Woods (the no-brainer top of the list guy)
Cristiano Ronaldo
Albert Pujols
Peyton Manning
Bobby Crosby
Michael Phelps
Lebron James
Kobe Bryant
Lionel Messi
Tom Brady


Here is another list based purely on success within their sport:

Anderson Silva
Tiger Woods
Albert Pujols
Tom Brady
Bobby Crosby
Michael Phelps
Usain Bolt
Floyd Mayweather
Kobe Bryant

edit: fedor should be on my list instead of GSP


I meant what is generally considered by athletic ability.Tiger woods for me doesn't make the list. I don't mean who is most successful I mean who is the most athletic. And you missed Usain Bolt :slight_smile:


Lance Armstrong


Tiger Woods cannot make this list. Golf is not a sport and doesn't require much athleticism. And if you don't believe me, I got two words for you: John Daly. I liked the op's list, but would add a handful of people, including Serena Williams.


Golf does require some athleticism, which is why John Daly blows. How could I have forgotten tennis though? Serena and definitely Roger Federer should be on my list. Not sure who I'd remove, maybe Messi or Brady.


Also, the requirements to be a "top" athlete don't necessarily include what sport requires the most athleticism. If that were the case, the list would be full of running backs, linebackers, gymnasts, basketball players and decathletes. If Tiger Woods doesn't belong due to a person like John Daly playing the same sport, then MMA athletes don't belong due to someone like Roy Nelson and basketball players don't belong due to someone like Zydrunas Ilgauskas and football players don't belong due to offensive linemen. Golf just requires a degree of athleticism that is far different than what most other sports require. It's more about the ability to continually repeat an athletic movement over and over again with precision rather than something that jumps off the TV screen like someone dunking or running really fast.


In that case:

Roger Federer
Serena Williams
whoever the top decathlete is
Patrick Willis
Chris Johnson
Adrian Peterson
Lebron James
Troy Tulowitzki (let me explain: has good speed and is fairly strong, displays above average athleticism at a position that demands more athleticism than any other on the ball field and has a cannon of an arm that he can use from any and all body positions; Jose Reyes would be on the list if he had been hitting much better over the last two years)
whoever the top gymnast is
Shaun White


Basically it depends on whether you consider technical, hand eye coordination type 'feats' as 'athletic' or not. If you do, Tennis/Basketball/Hockey players probably skyrocket up the list to join your typical list of football, futbol, and olympic athletes.

When I say basketball players, I also say that knowing that a lot of them would already be considered top athletes, but some are overlooked because their game is far more technical and less 'freak.' That is to say, think Kobe vs LeBron(not to say Kobe isn't a fantastic athlete, but he has tuned his game so much from his younger days, and people would allow others such as Lebron, D12, etc, overshadow him as an 'athlete').


Some big ones missing Pacman, Jose Aldo, Larry Fitzgerald, Kevin Durant, Miguel Cabrera.




MMA fighters are not athletes. They're thugs who get paid to get into sanctioned street fights although I must say that I enjoy watching. These lists/discussions are always meaningless and devolve into people listing top players from their favorite sports.

One thing I will say, however, is that divegrass players like messi and ronaldo are certainly not athletes.


Laird Hamilton. Alberto Contador, GSP, Sven Kramer, to name a few.


See, I think it does. In golf there is no defender, you actually have someone carry your equipment for you, there is no running or jumping or reacting to a visual stimulus, people are forced to be quiet when you swing, etc... It is a very tough game, but it is not a sport and it requires next to no athleticism. It does require skill, but so does darts and no one here would call that a sport.


^^What? Darts arent a sport? Dart players are way more athletic than stoooooopid basketball players


Have you ever played golf? I mean really played and practiced and tried to get better at it and played your friend for X dollars per hole? Have you ever walked 18 holes in 100 degree weather?


world-wide recognition and success in their sport? Mike Tyson? Muhammed Ali? or if we are talking present Floyd? Pacman?..You guys pick GSP over the other 2 boxers? Your outta your mind.


^^someone mentioned pacman earlier... But I would have to put some of the top level MMA guys over some of the top level pure boxers as far as "athleticism" goes just because they train more genres... plus i just really dont like boxing at all. (not to say that boxers arent really good athletes)