But greatness is is everything else besides, the mixture of emotion, endurance, excellence and vulnerability that sport brings - as well as the controversy it sometimes stirs - that creates truly stunning moments that live long in our memories and in sporting history.
'From Budd to Bolt: 50 Stunning Sporting Moments' tells the stories of moments of heart-stopping brilliance and failure. The heartbreak of Paula Radcliffe in her marathon attempt of 2004; the shock of the USSR's basketball gold medal victory against the USA in a frosty Cold War-era meeting in 1972; Derek Redmond being helped across the finish line in the 400m by his father after injuring himself during the race; Kelly Holmes' long-awaited and exhilarating double gold medal performances in Athens; Jesse Owens; Greg Louganis; Chris Hoy; Nadia Comaneci's incredible perfect 10. They're all here, their stories retold the Guardian's finest sports writers, based on the paper's newly commissioned series that places these historic sporting moments in a modern context. Inspiring, incredible, infuriating - they are all unforgettable.