SportsRant, a website that cranks out shareable sports-related slideshows, produced a clickworthy list compiling what it considered each state’s best athlete.
Former Boston Celtics basketball great Larry Bird was considered the best Indiana has ever produced, while iconic baseball slugger Babe Ruth was named the top athlete from Maryland, for instance.
Maine’s best-ever athlete? Joan Benoit Samuelson, the still-high-profile long distance runner famous for claiming the Olympic gold medal in the women’s marathon in 1984.
SportsRant explains its choice, in part:
“To this day, Benoit still holds the fastest time for [an American] woman at the Chicago Marathon and the Olympic Marathon. She placed first in six of her 11 marathons for the USA and never finished below sixth place.”
Samuelson is also the founder of the annual Beach to Beacon road race, arguably the most famous road race in Maine and one that draws runners from all over the world.
Samuelson’s no great surprise as the pick for Maine’s best-ever athlete. That said, there are others worth mentioning as well.
A more recent Olympic hero associated with Maine — two-time gold medal-winning snowboarder Seth Westcott — was technically born in North Carolina. But what about Elle Logan, the Portland-born rower with Olympic golds from 2008 and 2012?
A handful of Mainers have made their marks playing professional baseball. Portland native and longtime Boston Red Sox closer Bob Stanley — “The Steamer” — was a two-time All Star who held the team’s career saves record for two decades.
Fellow Portland native Ryan Flaherty has only been playing at the big league level for the Baltimore Orioles for a few years, but has shown flashes of brilliance and could put together a career worthy of adding his name to a list like this.
Basketball star Cindy Blodgett became just the second woman in NCAA Division I history to lead the nation in scoring four straight years during her time at the University of Maine, and went on to play pro hoops for four years before getting into coaching back at the college level.