THE BEST SELLERS’ LIST- Gold Standard: Taking the podium, the 10 best U.S. Male Summer Olympians of all time

Jesse Owens

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

Greetings from the World of Real Estate with Julè. Life is Good!
This week, Tuesday, a member of our community was a special guest at the new subdivision. Our very own, Mrs. Oma Jean Beckham Curlin was honored at the celebration of the new subdivision “Beckham Place” in Millington located off of Wilkinsville Road near Lowe’s area. You may have read about Mrs. Oma Jean in a previous article that Thomas Sellers Jr. several weeks ago. Mrs. Oma Jean Beckham Curlin is a sweet, dear lady and very excited to be a part of our growing community. I am privileged to know her and for her to have come into my life.
Let’s move forward to homebuying. We have covered advantages/disadvantages of owning vs. renting. Now, let us look at finding the right home for you and your family. Determining the needs and desires is the next step. There is much to consider. There are obvious needs such as a sturdy structure, good roof, appliances, modern fixtures, living room, bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchen.
Where do you want to live? Would you like to live on property with acreage, or in the city, small lot? How far do you want to live from work? Are there any particular features that you would like in your home? What is your budget?
Make a list of your needs and desires. Do you need an area for office work, music, artwork or crafts? Those areas do not necessarily have to be bedrooms. It could be a bonus room or den used as an activity room.
Needs are basic requirements that cannot be ignored or compromised. Desires, however, can be left behind if the situation requires such. Be clear as to the distinction of the two.
Buying a home is not a simple process. Much planning should be done in advance of contacting a real estate agent, however, a good realtor will be happy to help you with the entire process.
If you have pets, considering them will be an important part of your new home. What kind of pets do you have? Birds? Dog(s)? Cat(s)? Chickens (?) Some of these pets will require a fence. You may also need to consider veterinary, grooming, and exercise services.
When considering location consider a safe place, good schools, convenient shopping, seclusion in a wooded area or in a busy city area. Drive neighborhoods that you may consider, to get the feel of the area and speak with residents in the area as they can be a wealth of information. What kind of activities are available for you and your family?
Beckham Place is convenient to everything you need right here in Millington.
Oh yes, remember to change your air conditioner filter. An easy way to remember it is to change it when your utility bill.
Remember: Say Hello. Be Kind. Be Friendly. Embrace Life and all that it really offers. Keep Life Simple. Making good relationships is very important to our mental, emotional and physical health.
Should you have a topic you would like addressed, please feel free to contact me.
Thank you for reading my column and have a blessed week.
Here is your local realtor, Julè Dunham, signing off until next week.
Crye-Leike Realtors
Julè Dunham, Affiliate Broker, SRES, RENE. Contact her by phone at 901-828-8471 (cell) or 901-840-1181 (office) or by email to: for an appointment to speak with you, your group or club.
“Let’s Make This Happen Together”
Disclaimer and/or legal notices: While all attempts have been made to verify information provided in this article, neither the author nor the publisher assumes any responsibility for errors, inaccuracies, or omissions. Any slights of people or organizations are unintentional. This article is not intended for use as a source of legal or accounting advice. The information contained herein may be subject to varying state and/or local laws or regulations. The reader of this publication assumes responsibility for the use of these materials and information.

Last week The Best Sellers’ List gave some love to the women stars of past Summer Games.
Now I will turn my focus to the best American male athletes to ever grace the Olympic stage in the middle of the calendar “every four years.” As I did research, I realized there are three types of guys that made my list and honorable mentions.
The first type of man to shine in the Summer Olympics was famous before he ventured to the Games. Secondly, there are guys who became famous because of their performance in the Olympics leading to movies, TV shows, guest appearances and even cooking grills. Dick Fosbury was so good in the high jump, they named a technique after him.
And finally, the third type of guy on this list is the no-name guy. He just did his job at the sport he loved and trained. Once he collected his medals and earned that personal satisfaction, that man just went on to live a normal life.
Those winners needed additional research and I hope some of them being mention on this Best Sellers’ List will make some of you go study their achievements. That’s why the Summer Games are so important and validate all those who dream the Olympic dream.
The Tokyo Games should be at the midway point. But instead all those hopefuls who earned a spot at the XXXII Olympiad will have to wait a year.
While the future of the Games is still in doubt, let’s look back at the glorious past starting with this men: Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Ryan Lochte, Justin Gatlin, Greg Louganis, Bobby Morrow, Oscar De La Hoya, George Foreman, Bob Richards, Pernell Whitaker, Roy Jones Jr., Mal Whitfield, Sugar Ray Leonard, Al Kraenzlein, Dan Gable, Kurt Angle. Peter Vidmar, Pete Desjardins, Darrell Pace, J. Michael Plumb, Jack Kelly Sr., Parry O’Brien, Steven Lopez, Michael Jordan, Dick Fosbury, Tommy Kono, Harrison Dillard, Carl Osburn, Karch Kiraly, Dan O’Brien, Dave Johnson, John Naber, Bruce Jenner, Pat McCormick, Bruce Baumgartner, Sammy Lee, Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali), Bob Beamon, Don Schollander, Matt Biondi, Bob Mathias, Tommie Smith, Edwin Moses and Al Oerter.

  1. Charles Barkley
    A household name to basketball fans because of his MVP-level work in the NBA, Charles Barkley took full advantage of his time on the Olympic stage. As a part of the original Dream Team in 1992, Barkley was the leading scorer in Barcelona alongside greats like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Christian Laettner.
    Four years later, Barkley was on maybe the best U.S. Basketball team of NBA players in 1996 in Atlanta. Chuck was still feared by the competition for his skills and his brash style on the court.
    “I don’t know anything about Angola, but I know they’re in trouble,” Barkley said prior to a game in 1992. Winning two gold medals, Barkley had team highs in points per game and field-goal percentage.
  2. Ray Ewry
    When you win 8 gold medals over an 8 year period, you deserve a spot on this list. Ewry was a part of the U.S. Olympic team in 1900, 1904, 1906 and 1908. And Ewry dominated the track and field world at the turn of the 20th century.
    He won gold medals in all eight of the Olympic events he entered. Ewry won three consecutive gold medals in the standing long jump and standing high jump.
    Oh, did you notice that 1906? The International Olympic Committee doesn’t because the IOC does not recognize Ewry’s golds as official Olympic medals. He also won the standing long jump and high jump at the 1906 Games.
  3. Rafer Johnson
    Track and field legend Rafer Johnson only has two medals to his credit. So why is he on this list? Because when you are a decathlete, you sacrifice participating in multiple events at one Olympiad in order to be the best in 10 overall events for one medal. That man will take on the challenge of the world’s best to earn the right to say, ‘I am the greatest athlete alive.’
    In 1956, American Rafer Johnson was second best. He left Melbourne, Australia with a renewed focused. Four years later in Rome, Johnson edged out friend and rival C.K. Yang in one of the most dramatic Olympic decathlons. Johnson’s gold medal ushered him into the fabric of Americana. This distinguished sportsman would be selected to light the Olympic cauldron at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.
  4. Johnny Weissmuller
    Now it is time for a cameo appearance from television’s “Tarzan.” Wait a minute, you mean to tell me Johnny Weissmuller was an Olympic star before he was a TV star. Back in 1924 and 1928, Weissmuller garnered the attention of television executives and the rest of America with 6 medals with 5 being gold. Before there was a Mark Spitz or Michael Phelps, Weissmuller was the best American to jump into a pool of water.
    Weissmuller won both freestyle events at the 1924 Olympics and defended his 100-meter freestyle crown four years later in Amsterdam. Upon retirement, Weissmuller held the record for most gold medals won by an Olympic swimmer.
    Then he rose to mega fame on the long-running movie series and later TV hit “Tarzan.” Wow, the Olympics can be a great vehicle for stardom.
  5. Mark Spitz
    When I was a child, I thought I saw a photograph of Tom Selleck with a bunch of gold chains and medals around his neck. After investigating, I quickly learned it was the swimming icon Mark Spitz.
    His signature mustache and dark hair accompanied his lean but chiseled body. The gold medals made him even more of a heartthrob. Spitz collected 11 medals during the 1968 and 1972 Olympic Games. He also has a silver and bronze medal in his collection.
    But the summer of 1972 was the Spitz Olympic Games. Coming into the Munich Games, Spitz had a pair of gold medals. By the final time he stepped out of the pool in Germany, his total shot up to 9 overall.
    It was the greatest single Olympiad performance. Spitz won 7 golds in those games to become a world legend. He went 7 for 7 that summer.
  6. Michael Johnson
    The summer of 1996 had plenty of stars and heroes. With the Games being just a few miles away from my home in Memphis, I paid special attention to the happenings in Atlanta. Then a golden light appeared from Georgia. It was the reflection off the custom Nike track shoes of Michael Johnson. Johnson was introduced to the world in 1992 and had a farewell in 2000. But sandwiched between those Olympics was his greatest moments on the track.
    The winner of four gold medals in his career, he earned two for the ages in Atlanta. Johnson became the first man to win both the 200m and 400m events. Johnson won the 200m in world-record fashion, a mark standing for 12 years. In the 400m, Johnson blazed down the track in an Olympic record of 43.49 that still stands.
    The image of the tears running down his face during the National Anthem is just as memorable as Johnson’s upright-style dominating the Georgia night.
  7. Jim Thorpe
    Before we had Dan O’Brien, Bruce Jenner or even Rafer Johnson, the best athlete in the world was the mythical Jim Thorpe. Instead of using multiple Olympics to earn his two gold medals, Thorpe was the star of the 1912 Games. Thorpe was the man in the pentathlon/decathlon in Stockholm.
    Thorpe set the standard for those who came after him. What places Thorpe in the upper echelon of American Olympians? Pure dominance of the field.
    Thorpe’s time in the 1,500-meter portion of the decathlon, besides being superior to that of his contemporaries, was just one second slower than the career-best mark of 2008 decathlon Olympic champion Bryan Clay. Thorpe did that historic performance in borrowed shoes. Thorpe ran the 100m in 11.2 seconds, won the shot put, high jump, 110m hurdles and 1500m. Fourth place was his worst finish in those Games.
    Mr. Thorpe went on to star in professional football and various other sports. Some say Thorpe is the greatest athlete of the 20th Century amateur and professional.
  8. Michael Phelps
    Move over Spitz and Weissmuller, the greatest American swimmer ever is Michael Phelps. Phelps left the Olympic stage on a high in 2012. His total of 22 medals in a record from 2000-2012 features 18 golds, a pair of silver and a couple of bronzes.
    Spitz’s 7 for 7 in 1972 set the mark that Phelps was determined to break in 2008 heading to Beijing. I know own a Sports Illustrated cover with Phelps sporting his 8 gold medals. To summarized the greatness of Phelps, he entered 24 Olympic races only missed out on gold six times. He set or was a part of eight world records. “The Baltimore Bullet” or “Flying Fish” used his 6’4 lengthy frame to rewrite the record books in Olympic swimming. Only a pair of icons can rank higher than Phelps.
  9. Jesse Owens
    OK, this man only participated in one Olympiad in 1936. Shortly after that, the world embarked on a grand war canceling the games in 1940 and 1944. By that time, America’s Jesse Owens was a legend for his four-gold medal winning performance in Berlin in front of Adolf Hitler. The German dictator showed up to the Olympic stadium expecting to see a showcase of Aryan superiority. But instead he was treated to the superiority of Owens.
    Hitler witnessed a black American, son of a sharecropper prove he was the best track athlete in the world. Owens won the long jump, 100m and 200m dashes before adding a fourth gold in the 4x100m relay.
    In becoming just the second American track and field athlete to win four gold medals at one Olympiad. That performance made Owens an American and world icon.
  10. Carl Lewis
    For my No. 1, this man took on the world’s best when technology, supplements and training measures were even just about everywhere in the world. The great American Olympian Carl Lewis took on the best on the planet in 1984, 1988, 1992 and 1996.
    He earned 10 medals during that time with just one silver and no bronze. Lewis matched the achievement of Owens in 1984 with four gold medals coming in the long jump, 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay.
    Lewis held the title as “Fastest Man in the World” after 1984 winning the 100m in 9.9 seconds. He should have retained that title in 1988 but Ben Johnson won the physical race in Seoul that day. Later Johnson tested positive for performance enhancing drugs giving Lewis the gold.
    In 1992, Lewis added a pair of gold medals winning as the anchor leg of the 4x100m relay team. In those games, he took home his third consecutive long jump gold.
    But it was his last gold medal of his career in 1996 that still makes me cry. At this point, Lewis was the old man of the Olympic team and a surprise qualifier for the long jump. It appeared Lewis didn’t have what it took to be the best in the world anymore in the long jump with two sub-par attempts. Then came his third leap. It seemed the old man summon up all the juice he had left in his legs and recaptured his youth for a moment. With an attempt of 27.89 feet, Lewis hit one of his best marks personally and won the gold. He left the Olympic stage with a record fourth consecutive long jump title. That is proof Lewis is special and the greatest American Olympian ever.
    THOMAS SELLERS JR. is the editor of The Millington Star and both the sports editor and a weekly personal columnist for West 10 Media/Magic Valley Publishing. Contact him by phone at (901) 433-9138, by fax to (901) 529-7687 and by email to