Humanity has underestimated the capacity of the human body for nearly its entire history. As sports records continue to be broken and people make athletic achievements that were never thought possible, it’s safe to say humanity’s power is beyond understanding. As time passes, people become more and more incredible as they push against the limitations that everyone possesses.
It’s hard to wrap the mind around how many impossible feats have been overcome. Stephen Curry recently made 73 3-pointers in a 10-game stretch, more people have been to the moon than people who have scored a home run off of Mariano Rivera in the postseason and Wayne Gretzky would still have the most points in NHL history even if all of his goals were taken away. The list of absolutely insane sports facts goes on and on, but at some point, it must be narrowed down to the greatest ever.
When considering the greatest athletic achievements of humanity, one must look a step beyond that of professional sports. This is not a measurement of the most success somebody has achieved in their respective sport, but rather, a list of some of the most mind-boggling things human beings have been able to do athletically.
Kobe Bryant: 81-Point Game
Modern basketball has been defined by the supreme athleticism, skill set, intelligence and explosiveness that these athletes have coursing through their blood. Many people don’t realize just how out of this world professional athletes are in their sports. The best player in your high school probably wasn’t even on the radar for a Division III college team.
To be in the NBA, you must be the best player in your high school, the best player in your county, the best player in your state and the best player on your college team to even have a chance at playing in the league. To be an all-time great player in the NBA, your basketball ability must truly be unfathomable. There are thus no words to describe Kobe Bryant’s skills, and the January 2006 game against the Toronto Raptors where he scored 81 points perfectly encapsulates his greatness.
81 points doesn’t even sound real. A regular basketball player would have a hard time scoring 81 points in 48 minutes if they were the only one in the gym. For an NBA player to be that much better than everybody else on the court takes a skill that is truly unexplainable. The only way to describe how incredible Bryant’s achievement was is to compare it to mystical creatures or God himself. Another fun fact beyond the mind-boggling statistic of Bryant outscoring the entire Raptors team in the third quarter is that it was the only game Bryant’s grandmother ever attended. Rest in peace to the legend.
Usain Bolt: 100 Meter Dash
This list would not be respected or even complete without the inclusion of the fastest man of all time.
The average man can run 100 meters in about 27 seconds. The average woman can run 100 meters in about 34 seconds. Some of the fastest people, according to this Telegraph article, can run 100 meters in about 14 seconds. At the 2009 IAAF World Championships, Usain Bolt was able to run 100 meters in 9.58 seconds. In under 10 seconds, a human being was able to run beyond the length of a football field.
There is nothing that can be compared to Bolt’s superhuman-like speed. He has continuously faced zero competition other than himself as he shattered his own records over and over again.
The 100-meter dash is a record that has slowly been beaten throughout time, with the oldest recorded record of 10.8 seconds by Luther Cary in 1891. Over time, people have raised the bar higher and higher, but it is hard to imagine someone ever beating Bolt’s miraculous athletic achievements… unless it is by himself.
Bob Beamon: Long Jump
In many sports, it seems as if people are starting to become better and better as time passes. More and more athletic achievements and records are broken as time goes by, and very few older records still stand today. However, Bob Beamon’s record-setting long jump in 1968 still stands, as nobody in Olympic history has ever been able to jump farther than him.
At the time, he shattered the record by over two feet. To even have the slightest possible shred of making it into the Olympics, you must be an absolute specimen of a human being. For Beamon to have the longest jump in the history of jumping by such a wide margin is nothing short of unbelievable.
According to Topend Sports, the average person is capable of jumping seven feet. Beamon jumped 29 feet, on route to creating one of the longest-lasting Olympic records ever. To put that into perspective, Beamon quite literally leaped the length of a school bus. If that is not absolutely preposterous in every sense of the word to you, keep reading.
If you have never seen the “Free Solo” documentary, congratulations on having something to do tonight. This is something you’ll only believe if you saw it with your own eyes.
A special man by the name of Alex Honnold, who absolutely must be from another planet, likes to spend his time climbing enormous mountains… without a safety rope. There is nothing that prevents him from falling to his death at any given moment. He looks the Grim Reaper in the eyes and laughs at him for fun.
It is beyond a spectacle, but it is something that can only be fully understood through the documentary. Please, go and witness one of the greatest athletic achievements — if not the greatest— in human history as Honnold climbs the 7,500-foot-tall mountain in four hours, with only the slightest hesitation or slip-up separating him from a terrifying death.
Honnold has recently started a podcast called “Climbing Gold,” where he talks more about his special ability and the art of climbing. He is a special man with special talents, and he will forever be a legend because of his weird interests that nobody else would ever indulge. If that’s not inspiring, then I am not sure what is.
There are an infinite number of athletic achievements and feats; these are just a few of them. What humanity has achieved is nothing short of fascinating, and who knows what’s next. No matter what anybody says, people like this prove that humans certainly have more power and purpose than we could ever hope to wrap our minds around.