Eight Most Successful Olympic Athletes Worldwide

The primary goal of every Olympic athlete is to win that coveted gold medal, although winning a bronze or a silver medal is also nothing less than an outstanding achievement. Since 1896, thousands of athletes have consistently endeared themselves to billions of fans worldwide and left their mark in history. Some are overcoming huge odds to acquire that precious gold medal, while others have made some great records in attaining several medals during their Olympic careers.

Having said that, there is no doubt that athletes from particular sports carry a big advantage over others. For instance, there are more swimming and gymnastics medals than team sports such as volleyball or hockey. Also, the number of sporting events where medals are up for grabs is consistently changing with time.

Whatever the case may be, listed below are the names of the most successful Olympic athletes and their achievements, ranked according to the success they’ve had while participating in the Olympic games.

1. Larisa Latynina – Gymnastics

Larisa Latynina currently holds 14 individual and 4 team Olympic medals in gymnastics. She is one of the top-ranked players on the list of the most medals won by an individual, let alone a female, in Olympics history. Furthermore, she led the Soviet Union’s victory in Olympic gymnastics.

In 1956, Larisa Latynina won gold medals in the all-around, floor exercise, and vault. She took the silver medal home on the uneven bars while also obtaining the bronze medal in the potable apparatus team event.

She won a total of four bronze, five silver, and nine gold medals before retiring. Perhaps she’s all the motivation you need to complete your masters in athletic administration online or on-campus degree to wet your feet in the world of sports.

2. Michael Phelps – Swimmer

Michael Phelps, the legendary American swimmer, is undoubtedly the most successful swimmer in Olympics history. He won two bronze medals and six gold medals in the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Later in Beijing Olympics 2008, he broke another record by earning eight gold medals, making Mark Splitz the second biggest achiever in Munich Olympics held in 1972. His other achievements include additional nine gold medals and three silver medals which he earned in London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics, respectively.

 In total, the legendary swimmer Michael Phelps has won 28 medals and tops the list of players who won the highest number of medals in Olympic history.

3. Nikolay Andrianov – Gymnastics

Before Michael Phelps came into the picture, Nikolay Andrianov held the title of the most successful male athlete in the Olympics history book. Andrianov began Olympic domination in 1972, where he won a bronze medal in the vault, a silver medal in the team competition, and a gold medal in the floor exercise.

Again, in the 1976 Olympic games, he won seven medals in rings and vault, floor exercise, and all-around competition. Also, he won a bronze medal on the pommel horse and silver medals in parallel bars and team competitions.

4. Carl Lewis – Track and Field

Carl Lewis is arguably the Olympic stage’s greatest field and track athlete. He participated in the Olympics from 1984 to 1996 and won nine gold medals in total. In the 1984 Olympics, Lewis won four gold medals in the 4×100-meter relay and 200- and 100-meter-long jumps. Later in the 1988 Seoul Olympics, he won a silver medal in the 200-meter relay while taking gold medals in the 100-meter relay and long jump.

Then in the 1992 Olympics, Lewis carried on his form and won gold medals in the long jump and 400-meter relay. He finished his career at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics by winning his last gold medal in the long jump.

5. Natalie Coughlin – Swimming

Coughlin is a twelve-time Olympic medalist hailing from the USA, and she’s after more medals as her career is still going strong. She’s the first woman in history to win a total of six medals at an Olympics event and the first-ever woman to win gold medals at two separate Olympics events in the 100-meter backstroke.

In the 2004 Olympics, Coughlin won a bronze medal in the 100-meter freestyle relay and silver medals in the 4×100-meter medley and 4×100-meter freestyle. She also took home a gold medal in the 100-meter backstroke and 4×200 meter freestyle.

6. Boris Shakhlin – Gymnastics

Boris Shanklin had won the most medals for a single athlete. In the 1956 Olympics, he won gold medals in the pommel horse and the team competition. In contrast, in the 1960 Olympics, Boris won seven total Olympic medals, including silver medals in rings, horizontal bar, and team competition, while also winning gold medals in parallel bars, pommel horse, vault, and the all-around.

In the 1964 Olympics, he won silver medals in all-around and team competition and a gold medal in the horizontal bar.

7. Alexei Nemov – Gymnastics

Alexei Nemov won all of his 12 Olympic medals in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics. In the 1996 Olympics, he won bronze medals in the pommel horse, high bar, and floor exercise. At the same time, he won a silver medal in the all-around and gold medals in the vault and the team event.

In the 2000 Olympics, Alexei did it again and won three bronze medals in parallel bars, pommel horse, and team competition. A silver medal in floor exercise, and two gold medals in high bar and the all-around. Today, people know him as one of the greatest Russian gymnasts ever.

8. Edoardo Mangiarotti – Fencing

Edoardo Mangiarotti is probably the most famous and well-known fencers of his generation. He won a total of 13 Olympic medals at various Olympic games. In 1936, 1952, 1956, and 1960, he won gold medals in team epee. He also won a silver in the 1948 epee competition.

He won three silver medals in foils in 1948, 1952, and 1960. Furthermore, he also had two bronze medals in individual epee in the 1956 and 1948 Olympic games.


After reading through hundreds of gold, silver, and bronze medals, you now surely know that the Olympic games are no joke. While no one athlete can match the other’s success, the names mentioned in the list above will always remain in the hearts and minds of people due to their record-breaking achievement.

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