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Top Olympic Medal Winners

The goal of most Olympic Games athletes is to win a gold medal, though winning any medal, even making the Olympic Games at all, is a great achievement for most of them. Here are two lists, ranking athletes by who has won the most number of medals (any color), and also by gold medals won (up to and including Tokyo 2020 results).

The clear champion is Michael Phelps, with the most Olympic gold medals 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.

It 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, rugby 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.

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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 2021). American swimmer Michael Phelps is the clear winner, with the highest ranked female being gymnast Larisa Latynina. Although not making this list, a significant achievement was by Hungarian Aladar Gerevich who won medals in six consecutive Olympic Games in fencing.

Top male and female (total medals)

rank Athlete Country Sport Total Medals
1 Michael Phelps USA Swimming 28
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 Isabell Werth Germany Equestrian 12
=7 Paavo Nurmi Finland Athletics 12
=7 Birgit Fischer Germany Canoeing 12
=7 Jenny Thompson USA Swimming 12
=7 Sawao Kato Japan Gymnastics 12
=7 Ryan Lochte USA Swimming 12
=7 Dara Torres USA Swimming 12
=7 Alexei Nemov Russia Gymnastics 12
=7 Natalie Coughlin USA Swimming 12

Phelps also has the Most Gold Medals

Here are lists of the top-10 greatest gold medal winners, from all summer Olympic Games (including 2021). As with the total medal list, the clear leader here is Michael Phelps, with the top ranked female Larisa Latynina sharing nine gold medals with Paavo Nurmi, Carl Lewis and Mark Spitz.

Top Male and Female Athletes (total gold medals)

rank Athlete Country Sport Total Golds
1 Michael Phelps USA Swimming 23
=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 East Germany, Germany Canoeing 8
=6 Sawao Kato Japan Gymnastics 8
=6 Jenny Thompson USA Swimming 8
=6 Matt Biondi USA Swimming 8
=6 Usain Bolt Jamaica Athletics 8
=6 Ray Ewry USA Athletics 8

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Olympics Extra

The next Olympics will be in Paris 2024, followed by the Winter edition in Milan-Cortina 2026. Check out the list of Olympic Games sports, as well as discontinued and demonstration sports.

Major Events Extra

The largest sporting event in the world is the Olympic Games, but there are many other multi-sport games. In terms of single sport events, nothing beats the FIFA World Cup. To see what's coming up, check out the calendar of major sporting events.

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