Top 6 sporting heroes, by Dubai trainer Jeremy Gwyer
Words by Jeremy Gwyer
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Athletes who inspire
Sporting greatness means different thing to different people. To some, it’s the cold hard facts of titles, medals and wins. To others, it’s about impacting the world and inspiring others. For Dubai-based personal trainer and nutrition expert Jeremy Gwyer, longevity is an essential attribute if they are to qualify as one of his sporting heroes. “The world is littered with athletes who have elite skills but the difference between the good and the great is their ability to perform at that level consistently over a long period of time,” he explains. “The athletes I’ve chosen here, in my opinion, have had not only the greatest success, but have also had the greatest influence on their sport and the world.”
Like a fine wine, Tom Brady gets better with age. How many times have critics written this man off? Even before he was drafted into the NFL, scouts told him he was too slow and would never make it. What started as a gamble by the New England Patriots selecting Brady as the 199th pick in the sixth round of the 2000 draft, turned out to be NFL’s biggest steal. During 20 seasons with the Patriots, Brady led the team to seven division titles (including 11 consecutively from 2009 to 2019), 13 AFC Championship Games (including eight consecutively from 2011 to 2018) and six Super Bowl titles. Winning his seventh Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020 cements his position as the NFL’s GOAT.
The former world number one tennis player is, in my mind, the greatest female athlete of all time. With 23 Grand Slam singles titles (plus 14 doubles and two more in mixed doubles) she is a serial winner and for years, was the highest paid female athlete in the world. In a sport that has much to do with finesse, Williams brought power and was the pioneer of a new generation of tennis players. Is another Grand Slam possible? I wouldn’t bet against it.
How could the most decorated Olympian of all time not be in my top six? Phelps has won a total of 28 Olympic medals, 23 of which were gold, across five Games from Sydney in 2000 to Rio in 2016. The guy won eight gold medals at the Beijing games alone, not to mention the countless world records he set during his career. Phelps is simply a supreme athlete with a great work ethic and a desire to be the best.
Despite his off-course indiscretions we can’t ignore the fact that Tiger, in his prime, was near unbeatable. He won his first major in 1997 – The Masters – at the age of 21. From then on, it was pure domination, reaching world number one less than a year after turning pro. He was the world’s top-ranked golfer from August 1999 to September 2004 and again from June 2005 to October 2010. During this time, he won 13 major championships. For me, his greatest win was in 2018, when he returned from injury and family problems to win the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta and solidify his status as the best golfer of all time.
If you haven’t seen the Netflix documentary The Last Dance, cancel your plans this weekend and watch it. His era of greatness came before I started following the NBA so I had only read about him. But if I had to pick a number one from this list, Jordan is it. His skill, athleticism, competitiveness and desire to win set a new standard for athletes around the world. He won six NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls across 15 seasons plus too many individual accolades to mention here. He brought the NBA to the world, and became a global icon in the process.
I know what you’re thinking: cheat. But let’s be honest, Armstrong competed in a time where they were all on it. Anyone even close to the top 20 in the Tour de France in that era was doping. To be diagnosed with testicular cancer and then go on to win seven consecutive Tour de France titles is something very special, with or without doping. He also started the Livestrong Foundation to assist other cancer survivors. Love him or hate him, he has to be admired for his charitable work as well as his supreme work ethic on the bike.
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