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Top 10 Most Decorated Olympians of All Time

Garry looks at the Top 10 Most Decorated Olympians of All Time

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Top 10 Most Decorated Olympians of All Time

Athletes around the world compete for the prestigious Olympics every four years. Triumphs and failures have been experienced as these athletes showed their best. For some, they exerted extra time and effort to win and to be considered one of the most successful Olympians.

Top 10 Most Decorated Olympians of All Time


In determining the "Top 10 Most Decorated Olympians", it is important to understand that Olympics can be in two categories: Winter and Summer Olympics. However, I will delve into mixing the athletes together to get the most decorated Olympians. Also, the criteria will be the number of medals as well as the
number of gold medals.

1. Michael Phelps -United States- (Swimming) 18G -2S - 2B - Total 22 

There's no debate about the greatest of all, Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time. He garnered a total 22 medals (18 G, 2 S, 2 B) in three summer Olympics. The dominance of Phelps cannot be neglected at all as he had 11 individual gold medals, which I believe, will take a long time to be broken. The American mastered the disciple and he conquered his opponents in commanding fashions.

2. Larisa Latynina -Soviet Union - (Gymnastics) - 9G - 5S - 4B - Total 18 

It took more than 48 years for her record to stand until Phelps surpassed in on July 31, 2012. Latynina's record of 14 individual medals was never touched by Phelps at all.

She accumulated her nine gold medals in three Olympics (4 in Melbourne in 1956, 3 in Rome in 1960, and 3 in Tokyo in 1964. In Floor Exercise, she won the gold in three Olympics. Her record, of 18 gold medals, was seemed untouchable until Phelps entered into the scene. Latynina will always be remembered as one of the most decorated Olympians of all time.

3. Paavo Nurmi - Finland - (athletics) - 9G - 3S - Total 12

Not as popular as others, Nurmi's legacy in the Olympics will not be disregarded at all. He was considered the best long-distance runner in the Olympics. In 1920, he captured 10,000 m run in Antwerp. Furthermore, he owned the individual cross country and team cross country.

Nurmi again displayed his poise in winning the 1500 m, 5000 m, team cross country, and the individual cross country in Paris. His last gold medal was in 1928 when he won the 10,000 m.

4. Carl Lewis United States - (Athletics) 9G - 1S - Total 9

When it comes to the Olympics' best, Lewis will always be mentioned. The level of difficulty in his events was mind-boggling. His signature events were the 100m and the 200m. But his inclusion of long jump in his schedule was unbelievable.

Lewis grabbed gold in the 100 m, 200 m, 4 x 100 m relay, and long jump in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. He kept the gold in both the 100m and long jump in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Furthermore, he won gold in both the 4x100 m relay and the long jump in 1992 in Barcelona. His longevity had kept him to bag the gold in the long jump in 1998 Atlanta.

5. Mark Spitz - United States -(Swimming) - 9G -1S - 1B - Total 11

His sterling performances produced seven gold medals in the 1972 Summer Olympics. His name was always mentioned as the most decorated Olympic swimmer of all time until Phelps surpassed his record. His greatness was recognized when he set new world records in all the seven events he joined. Percentage wise, no other swimmer could break that record in a singly Olympic.

6. Nikolai Andrianov - Soviet Union - (Gymnastics) - 7G - 5S - 3B - Total 15

His Olympic medals were won from the 1972-1980 Olympics. His dominance in the 1976 gymnastics was obviously noted, gathering four gold, two silvers, and a bronze. His record of most medals for male Olympian stood for a long time until Phelps surpassed him in Beijing Olympics.

7. Ole Einar Bjørndalen - Norway - (Biathlon) - 8G - 4S - 1B -Total 13

The most decorated winter Olympian, Bjørndalen displayed endurance in the 1998-2014 Olympics. He won two gold medals in the 1998 Nagano Olympics. He dominated the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics by winning four gold medals. In 2006 Turin Olympics, he had no gold at all but won two silvers and a bronze. Meanwhile, he added two gold medals in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

8. Jenny Thompson - United States – (Swimming) - 8G- 3S – 1B – Total 12

Thompson is the most decorated American female Olympian. She conquered her medals in the 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004 Summer Olympics. Her discipline to keep herself in competitive shape was part of her success.

9. Boris Shakhlin - Soviet Union - (Gymnastics) - 7G - 4S - 2B - Total 13

Another Olympian from the former Soviet Union conquered the gymnastics. He showed to the world his prowess in the 1960 Olympics.

10. Matt Biondi - United States- Swimming - 8G -2S - 1B - Total 11

He is the third US athlete to be part of the top 10 the most decorated olympians. His legacy will be embraced by the new generation of swimmers. He captured five gold medals, one silver medal, and one bronze medal in the 1988 Olympics. One of his memorable events that turned into a defeat was in the 100 meter butterfly. He approached the wall by gliding instead of pushing for a stroke. He lost to Anthony Nesty of Surinam by just 0.01 second.

Note: G=Gold S=silver B=bronze

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