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RE: Greatest performance ever including era?
As long as we're allowing field events, Dutch Warmerdam was incredibly better than everybody else in his day in the PV, as was Jim Thorpe in the multis.

But my money would be on Iolanda Balas:

http://www.cnn.com/2004/SPORT/06/03/olympics.balas/index.html?eref=sitesearch

She raised the world record 17cm (just shy of seven inches!), won two Olympics, and didn't lose for ten years; but for my money, the most amazing stat is this:

"Such was Balas' domination that at the time she set her final world record in 1961 no other woman had gone higher than 1.78m."

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