Athletes are like celebrities. Despite their lack of acting capabilities, they are among the most sought-after endorsers that are idolized by millions of people around the world. Because of their skills, athleticism, the capability to break records, and at times bankable looks, it’s no wonder that there are various sports personalities that are making raves and affecting the lives of the people, particularly the youth.
Hence, here are five of the most influential athletes in the world of sports.
1. Michael Phelps, Swimming
Who can ever forget Michael Phelps and his 22 Olympic medals? Once he puts his goggles on and jumps into the pool, you’ll start to wonder whether he is the son of Poseidon, capable of breathing even underwater, for his speed and grace when swimming.
Born on June 30, 1985, in Baltimore, Maryland, Michael Phelps is a world-renowned Olympic medalist and Member of the US Men’s Swim Team. He started to compete and win medals as early as 15 years old during the 2000 Sydney Olympics. He looked upon Olympian swimmers Tom Malchow and Tom Dolan and dreamed of being a champion himself which motivated him to start his intense training. But the whole world noticed him during the 2004 Athens Olympics where he won 8 medals, 6 of which were gold.
During the Beijing Olympics, he had a total of 7 gold medals, setting and breaking new world records. By 2012, his medal count increased to 22 – 18 gold, 2 silver, and 2 bronze – the only athlete who has the most medal wins in Olympics.
Phelps announced his retirement in 2012. He also co-founded Swim with the Stars, a nonprofit organization that holds swimming caps for all ages.
2. Usain Bolt, Track
Dubbed as the “most naturally gifted athlete the world has ever seen,” Usain Bolt is one of the most influential athletes to date. During his childhood, the sprint was not the only sport he’s involved in. Because of his height, he also participated in high jump events and cricket. But he’s lightning speed didn’t stop him from pursuing track. In 2001, he won the 200m/400m double at CARIFTA trials and thereafter won 4 gold medals. In 2002, he won the gold medal for the 200m dash in IAAF World Junior T&F Championships.
Then he participated in the Beijing Olympics where he made a record of 100m sprint in 9.69 seconds and won 3 gold medals. He is also the first man in Olympic history to win both 100m and 200m and at the same time, setting a world record. And during the 2012 London Olympics, Bolt successfully defended his titles by winning gold in 100m, 200m, and 4x100m, proving that he really is the ‘World’s Fastest Man.’
He also received several recognitions such as IAAF Male Athlete of the Year, established the Usain Bolt Foundation, and endorses some of the top brands in the world such as Puma, Samsung, and Nissan.
3. Aaron Rodgers, American Football
One of the most prominent quarterbacks in NFL, Aaron Rodgers is currently the starting quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. Even at a young age, Rodgers showed impressive performance when playing the sport and setting records during his high school years. Despite his athleticism, he considered quitting football when he has rejected the Florida State University and had only one offer for a scholarship. He was recruited by Butte Community College until the University of California, Berkeley football coach noticed him and offered him to play with the California Golden Bears football team.
Rodgers was drafted in 2005 as the backup quarterback by the Green Bay Packers. Upon Brett Favre’s retirement in 2008, Rodgers was given an opportunity to showcase his talent and set records for the highest career passer rating, highest career touchdown to interception ratio, and lowest career pass interception in NFL history.
He also received numerous recognition, a Super Bowl champion, and MVP. He is also known for his unique touchdown celebration which is known as the “Championship Belt.”
4. David Beckham, Soccer
Thanks to his impressive soccer skills and good looks, David Beckham is considered one of the most popular sports figures today. Born in London, England, Beckham was known as a ‘phenom’ when he starts to kick the ball. He started to play soccer for Manchester United at the age of 18 and prior to that, he trained for two years first when he was 16 before he became a starter.
Fortunately for Beckham, soccer is not the only reason why he became a worldwide star. His looks paved the way to a multi-million dollar deal with Adidas and married Spice Girls’, Victoria Adams.
He also has a multi-million contract with Manchester United and later on, was acquired by Real Madrid. But that doesn’t stop Beckham from conquering the world. In 2007, he moved to the US for a $250 million 5-year contract with LA Galaxy.
Unfortunately, injuries affected his performance and in 2013, Beckham announced his retirement. At present, Beckham started an underwear line for H&M where 6 10-foot statues of him in his underwear were installed in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
5. Lebron James, Basketball
NBA Champion, NBA MVP, NBA All-Star, Scoring Champion, Rookie of the Year, and Olympic gold medalist, Lebron James is definitely a force to be reckoned with when it comes to basketball. James started his NBA career when he became the first overall pick and drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003. Known as The Decision, he left the Cavaliers in 2010 and transferred to Miami Heat, which made him the most disliked athlete at that time.
Considered as the best NBA player today by basketball analysts and experts, James started to showcase his potential during his high school years. Because of this, he went straight to the NBA and earned the respect of the other players due to his skills and athleticism. His impressive record over the years also aligned him with the likes of Michael Jordan and Bill Russell in terms of scoring statistics.
Aside from basketball, Lebron James has numerous endorsement deals with Nike, Samsung, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Dunkin brands. He is also one of the highest-paid athletes in the world and recently surpassed Kobe Bryant as the highest-paid basketball player in the world.
Being a dominating force in the sport they play, it’s no wonder that kids look up to them and want to be like them when they grow up. These individuals are considered prominent for a number of reasons – skills, talents, athleticism, impressive sports records, numerous endorsements, and the power to influence the people. And no matter what happens, they will always be remembered for what they’ve done in the world of sports.