Top Greatest Olympians of All-Time
There is no particular order to the list. It is a listing of the best olympic athletes and sports competitors in the history of the Modern Summer and Winter Olympic Games (1896-present).
Mark Spitz (USA). Spitz is tied for the most gold medals collected in the history of the Olympics. And he won 7 gold medals at the 1972 Olympics, also an all-time record
Nadia Comaneci (Romania). The Romanian gymnast has won 5 gold medals and 9 total. Comanechi is essentially the definition of ‘Perfect 10′. The Olympic scoreboard wasn’t even capable of displaying a ’10’, and all of that changed after Nadia.
Larisa Semyonovna Latynina (Soviet Union). Arguably the best athlete in the history of the Olympics. Latynina won a total of 18 medals including 9 golds in her Olympic gymnastic career.
Nikolay Andrianov (Soviet Union). Won 15 medals in his career.
Alexei Nemov (Russia). Nemov won 6 medals in Atlanta in 1996 and won another 6 in Sydney in 2000.
Takashi Ono (Japan). Ono won a total of 13 medals. He won his first at the 1952 Olympics and won a team gold at the 1964 Olympic games.
Edoardo Mangiarotti (Italy). A fencing world champion for decades. Mangiarotti won a total of 13 Olympic medals in his lifetime.
Boris Shakhlin (Soviet Union). Between 1956 and 1964 Shakhlin won 13 different Olympic medals in gymnastics. His best event was the pommelled horse.
Paavo Nurmi (Finland). Finland’s Paavo Nurni won a total of 9 Olympic gold medals as a runner in the 1920’s.
Sawao Kato (Japan). Competed in gymnastic events in the 1968, 1972, and 1976 Olympics winning a total of 12 medals, 8 of them gold.
Ray Ewry (USA). The best and most memorable athlete from the very first modern Olympic games. Ewry won 8 gold medals right around the turn of the century. He won 2 more, but they were at the 1906 ‘Intermediate’ Games, which are not official.
Matthew Biondi (USA). One of the U.S.A.’s best Olympic athletes ever. Biondi won 11 total medals. The first coming in 1984, and his last Olympic medal in 1992. He was at his prime in the 1998 Summer Olympics winning 5 gold medals.
Carl Lewis (USA). He’s got his own flashy web site. Enough said.
Victor Chukarin (Soviet Union). Won 11 medals total after competing in both the 1952 and 1956 Olympics. Seven of Chukarin’s gymnastic medals were gold.
Vera Caslavska (Czechoslovokia). A sensational gymnast (Vera won 11 medals in 1964 and 1968) and a remarkable life story (those were challenging times in Czechoslovokia).
Kristin Otto (Germany). Won 6 gold medals in swimming at the 1988 Olympics– which was a record for women.
Michael Phelps (United States). In the 2004 summer olympics, Michael Phelps won 8 medals in swimming, including 6 gold medals.
Oscar Swahn (Sweden). Won a medal at the 1920 Olympics, at the age of 72. The oldest athlete ever to win a medal at the Olympics.
Jesse Owens. American, and African-American, Jesse Owens went to the 1936 Olympics held in Hitler’s Germany. And Owens won, a then record, 4 gold medals in track and field.
Torvill and Dean (UK). Britain’s famed “Torvill and Dean” (Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean) won the ice dancing pairs competition. They stand alone as among the top performers in the history of pairs figure skating.
Edwin Moses (USA). Moses was one of the best athletes in the history of the 400 meter hurdles in and out of Olympic competition. In 1976, he won the event going away. He won over 100 consecutive events leading up to his next Olympic event in 1984. And, despite recovering from an injury, won the race in front of the home crowd.
Greg Louganis (USA). Louganis won his first Olympic medal in 1976 at the age of 16. But he had to wait until 1984 to return to the Olympics due to the U.S. boycott of the Moscow Games in 1980. He won two golds in 1984 and two more in 1988. His 1988 victory is remembered because Louganis had an accident where he hit the board in preliminary competition. Had the United States participated in the 1980 Olympics, Louganis would surely have won additional medals.
Olga Korbut (Soviet Union). Voted Female Athlete of the Year in 1972 by the AP. She was widely popular around the globe for her wide, big, bright smile. She won 3 gold medals and a silver medal at the Munich Summer Olympics.
Alberto Tomba (Italy). Tomba is without question the best downhill skier in the history of Italy. He won medals in 1988 and 1994.