Whether you’re capturing your 79th PGA Title Win or your record 18th gold medal, you probably know a thing or two about being on top. Some athletes have an entire planet watching their move, so their performance needs to be powerfully perfected. Some have faltered under pressure. But those who have been reviewed under a microscope and have lived to tell the tale…well, they prove that “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Here are the Top 5 Athletes of the Past Decade:
5. Manny Pacquiao
With HBO, the World Boxing Council (and several other organizations and companies) claiming him as the “Fighter of the Decade,” it makes absolute sense to include Pacquiao in a list about the best athletes of the this past decade. He has long been rated as the best “pound for pound” boxer until just recently – when Mayweather took that spot. However, he is the first and has remained the only eight-division world champion. Pacquiao has also won ten world titles.
With all the accolades and awards, “Pac Man” continues to be humble and charming as ever. Not quite a requisite for a spot in the Top 5 Athletes of the Decade, but surely a great start.
4. Mariano Rivera
If you feel like another baseball player could possibly be better than Mariano Rivera and thus deserving of a spot on this list, you’re probably right. However, I’m including Mo on this list because he has shown young professional athletes how to remain courteous and humble and still break bats like they’re nothing more than toothpicks. Although he retired in 2013, Rivera remains the greatest closer – as MLB’s career leader in saves (652) and games finished (952). He played 19 seasons for the New York Yankees and will forever be remembered with just one song: “Enter Sandman.”
So, as the Sandman exits the basefield, he waits to be eligible to enter Baseball Hall of Fame – no doubt being a strong candidate. And for that, Mariano is in my Top 5 Athletes list.
3. Misty May Treanor & Kerri Walsh Jennings
It may be a bit of a cheat to include two women for one spot, but I’m a bit of a rebel like that. Plus, Treanor and Walsh know how to break boundaries as well. Dominating the sport of beach volleyball for three Olympiads, Misty and Kerri ended their successful run as the force to be reckoned with on the international stage. Starting in Athens in 2004, the pair claimed the gold medal without ever even losing a set. In fact, the following Olympics – Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012 – were similar with Treanor and Jennings winning gold medals. They have only lost one set in their entire Summer Games history as partners. A feat most can ever even dare to dream.
2. Michael Phelps
Known as the Greatest Olympian ever, Michael Phelps earned that title the good old fashioned way – swimming countless miles on the international stage. Since 2002, Phelps has dominated the sport of swimming and set almost every possible Olympic record: most golds in one competition, most golds all time, most individual golds at a single Games, and most medals at one Games. He has not only inspired the world, but fellow athletes as well.
After a brief moment transferring his talent to golf, Phelps announced his return to the pool. ” I’m doing this for me. ” Phelps declared. And for me, Michael, and for me.
1. Lionel Messi
Leo Messi is top player in the world in the world’s most popular sport – football. Or “soccer” as it’s commonly known in the United States. I may have to argue, though, if he’s truly in the “best team” on Earth – FC Barcelona. Manchester United will forever be my team, my boys. Barcelona may have Messi, but we have heart and the love of the game and…well amid the chaos of changing managment, we don’t have much else. But enough about my Manchester United…I was discussing Lionel Messi. His footwork and small stature make him a dazzling show on the field. He has won several awards, except for one elusive title: the FIFA World Cup. The Argentinean has yet to help provide his country with a World Cup win. Here’s to making a grand effort this summer at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Although I didn’t have any time or space to mention at length the accomplishments of Tiger Woods, Tom Brady, Kobe Bryant, and Serena Williams, their efforts (along with so many others) have never failed to be in vain. Each of their contributions to the massive world of competitive sports make a sports fan like me – and so many others – anticipate their every move. We watch in glee as they race for first place at 190 mph or swim breathlessly across an Olympic-size pool. Their proud moments are shared with us. Their stories become ours. Their best and brightest achievements on display for the world to cherish.
I know I’ve left out your favorite athlete! Sorry! Please feel free to share your Top 5 Athletes of this Past Decade down below!