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Don't say "one of the only". Do say "the only one" or "one of the few"

Don't say that: 

One of the only

Do say this: 

the only one
one of the few


The word "one" is the very definition of singularity. It is closely related to "unique." "Only" cannot stand alone, it must be accompanied by a definition.

Therefore "one of the only" makes no sense.

You can say "one of only a few" this defines the subject (the thing you are talking about) as part of a limited class, i.e. it is rare.

You can have "the only one" which means it is unique.

To say "he is one of the only sportsmen to achieve this feat" fails to deliver the message that is conveyed by "he is one of only a handful of sportsmen to achieve this feat.