New Delhi: Every four years, the best athletes in the world gather for a global carnival. Records break, unthinkable feats achieved. Nobody dare breaking a 2000-year record.
To do that, you either ought to be a god or a Greek. God's case, if they really exist at all, is pretty much self explanatory. For the Greeks, it's their birthright! Yes, for giving us the Olympics — the greatest and conceivably the most beautiful thing the human race can celebrate together.
And on Friday at Rio Olympics 2016, an American mortal, Michael Phelps, who earned himself the epithet of greatest Olympian, broke a 2000-year-old record.
Phelps won the 200-metre individual medley final for his 13th Olympic individual gold medal. He, in the process, surpassed the 12 individual titles won by Leonidas of Rhodes.
Now the question is, who is this Leonidas, even though that name rings a familiar tune thanks to 300, the Hollywood movie.
According to historical records, this Leonidas competed in four successive Olympiads in 164BC, 160BC, 156BC and 152BC, and in each of these he won three different foot races.
At 36, five years older than Phelps, he won his last three events in 152 B.C, in races of about 200 and 400 meters, and in a shield-carrying race.
Leonidas went undefeated over that stretch in races called the stadion (approximately 200 meters), the diaulos (400 meters) and the hoplitodromos, according to a BBC report.
Phelps has 27 Olympic medals, including 22 golds, which is more than twice that of the second-highest record holders.