Top Olympic Medal Winners

The primary aim of most Olympic Games athletes is to win a gold medal, though winning any medal is a great achievement for most of them. Here are two lists, ranking athletes by the most number of medals, and also by gold medals won (including 2012). You can see below that the clear winner is Michael Phelps with the most Olympic golds and most medals in total. Are you not happy with ranking these athletes using this criteria? Have a look at a similar list with alternative ranking systems: Ranking Athlete Performances at the Olympics.

1936 olympic games posterIt is clear that athletes from certain sports have an advantage, for example there are many more gymnastics and swimming medals up for grabs than for a team sport like hockey or volleyball. Also, the number of events in which medals are available overall have changed over time. As some sports do not have the same opportunity to win multiple medals, see the top ranked athletes from each sport so great athletes from other sports can get their due credit.

Phelps has the Most Total Medals

Here is the list of the top 10 athletes (males and females) with the most medals in total (includes all gold, silver and bronze medals won), from all summer Olympic Games (including 2012). American swimmer Michael Phelps is the clear winner, with the highest ranked female gymnast Larisa Latynina. Although not making this list, a significant achievement was by Hungarian Aladar Gerevich who won medals in 6 consecutive Olympic Games in fencing.

Top male and female (total medals)

rank Athlete Country Sport Total Medals
1 Michael Phelps USA Swimming 22
2 Larisa Latynina Soviet Union Gymnastics 18
3 Nikolai Andrianov Soviet Union Gymnastics 15
=4 Boris Shakhlin Soviet Union Gymnastics 13
=4 Edoardo Mangiarotti Italy Fencing 13
=4 Takashi Ono Japan Gymnastics 13
=7 Paavo Nurmi Finland Athletics 12
=7 Birgit Fischer Germany Canoeing 12
=7 Sawao Kato Japan Gymnastics 12
=7 Jenny Thompson USA Swimming 12
=7 Dara Torres USA Swimming 12
=7 Alexei Nemov Russia Gymnastics 12
=7 Natalie Coughlin USA Swimming 12

top 10 males (total medals)

rank Athlete Country Sport Total Medals
1 Michael Phelps United States Swimming 22
2 Nikolai Andrianov Soviet Union Gymnastics 15
=3 Boris Shakhlin Soviet Union Gymnastics 13
=3 Edoardo Mangiarotti Italy Fencing 13
=3 Takashi Ono Japan Gymnastics 13
=6 Paavo Nurmi Finland Athletics 12
=6 Sawao Kato Japan Gymnastics 12
=6 Alexei Nemov Russia Gymnastics 12
=9 Mark Spitz USA Swimming 11
=9 Matt Biondi USA Swimming 11
=9 Viktor Chukarin Soviet Union Gymnastics 11
=9 Carl Osburn USA Shooting 11
=9 Ryan Lochte USA Swimming 11

top 10 females (total medals)

rank Athlete Country Sport Total Medals
1 Larisa Latynina Soviet Union Gymnastics 18
=2 Birgit Fischer Germany Canoeing 12
=2 Jenny Thompson USA Swimming 12
=2 Dara Torres USA Swimming 12
=2 Natalie Coughlin USA Swimming 12
6 Věra Čáslavská Czechoslovakia Gymnastics 11
=7 Ágnes Keleti Hungary Gymnastics 10
=7 Polina Astakhova Soviet Union Gymnastics 10
=7 Franziska van Almsick Germany Swimming 10
=10 Valentina Vezzali Italy Fencing 9
=10 Nadia Comăneci Romania Gymnastics 9
=10 Ludmilla Tourischeva Soviet Union Gymnastics 9
=10 Leisel Jones Australia Swimming 9
=10 Anky van Grunsven Netherlands Equestrian 9

Phelps also has the Most Gold Medals

Here are lists of the top 10 greatest gold medal winners, from all summer Olympic Games (including 2012). As with the total medal list, the clear leader here is Michael Phelps, with the top ranked female Larisa Latynina sharing 9 gold medals with Paavo Nurmi and Mark Spitz.

Top Male and Female Athletes (total gold medals)

 

rank Athlete Country Sport Total Golds
1 Michael Phelps USA Swimming 18
=2 Larisa Latynina Soviet Union Gymnastics 9
=2 Paavo Nurmi Finland Athletics 9
=2 Mark Spitz USA Swimming 9
=2 Carl Lewis USA Athletics 9
=6 Birgit Fischer Germany Canoeing 8
=6 Sawao Kato Japan Gymnastics 8
=6 Jenny Thompson USA Swimming 8
=6 Matt Biondi USA Swimming 8
=6 Ray Ewry USA Athletics 8

top 10 males (gold medals)

 

rank Athlete Country Sport Total Golds
1 Michael Phelps  United States Swimming 18
=2 Paavo Nurmi Finland Athletics 9
=2 Mark Spitz USA Swimming 9
=2 Carl Lewis USA Athletics 9
=5 Sawao Kato Japan Gymnastics 8
=5 Matt Biondi USA Swimming 8
=5 Ray Ewry USA Athletics 8
=8 Nikolai Andrianov Soviet Union Gymnastics 7
=8 Boris Shakhlin Soviet Union Gymnastics 7
=8 Viktor Chukarin Soviet Union Gymnastics 7
=8 Aladár Gerevich Hungary Fencing 7

top 10 females (gold medals)

Larisa Latynina  Soviet Union Gymnastics 9
Birgit Fischer  Germany Canoeing 8
Jenny Thompson  United States Swimming 8
Věra Čáslavská  Czechoslovakia Gymnastics 7
Valentina Vezzali  Italy Fencing 6
Kristin Otto  East Germany Swimming 6
Amy Van Dyken  United States Swimming 6
Ágnes Keleti  Hungary Gymnastics 5
Polina Astakhova  Soviet Union Gymnastics 5
Nadia Comăneci  Romania Gymnastics 5
Isabell Werth  Germany Equestrian 5
Elisabeta Lipă  Romania Rowing 5
Krisztina Egerszegi  Hungary Swimming 5
Nellie Kim  Soviet Union Gymnastics 5
Georgeta Damian  Romania Rowing 5
Anastasia Davydova  Russia Synchronized swimming 5

 

rank Athlete Country Sport Total Golds
1 Larisa Latynina  Soviet Union Gymnastics 9
=2 Birgit Fischer  Germany Canoeing 8
=2 Jenny Thompson  United States Swimming 8
4 Věra Čáslavská  Czechoslovakia Gymnastics 7
=5 Valentina Vezzali  Italy Fencing 6
=5 Kristin Otto  East Germany Swimming 6
=5 Amy Van Dyken  United States Swimming 6
=6 Ágnes Keleti  Hungary Gymnastics 5
=6 Polina Astakhova  Soviet Union Gymnastics 5
=6 Nadia Comăneci  Romania Gymnastics 5
=6 Isabell Werth  Germany Equestrian 5
=6 Elisabeta Lipă  Romania Rowing 5
=6 Krisztina Egerszegi  Hungary Swimming 5
=6 Nellie Kim  Soviet Union Gymnastics 5
=6 Georgeta Damian  Romania Rowing 5
=6 Anastasia Davydova  Russia Synchronized swimming 5
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