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Olympics Index
Olympians

On this page:

Overview
Jason Kenny
Chris Hoy
Bradley Wiggins
Steve Redgrave
Ben Ainslie
Mo Farah
Matthew Pinsent
Paolo Radmilovoc
Laura Trott
Katherine Grainger
Michael Phelps
Mark Spitz
Carl Lewis
Triple-Gold Britons
Other Countries

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Olympians

This page lists the medals won by the most successful Olympians from all countries, especially Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Overview

This section summarises the medals won by the people who are covered in more detail below.

The six most successful Olympians of all time are:

Sport Event(s) Years Gold medal Silver medal Bronze medal Tot Name
Swimming Butterfly, Freestyle, Medley 2004–16 23 3 2 28 Click to show or hide the answer
Gymnastics Team, All–Around, Vault, Floor, Uneven Bars, Balance Beam 1956–64 9 5 4 18 Click to show or hide the answer
Athletics Cross Country, 3,000m, 5,000m, 10,000m 1920–28 9 3 0 12 Click to show or hide the answer
Swimming Butterfly, Freestyle, Medley 1968–72 9 1 1 11 Click to show or hide the answer
Athletics 100m, 200m, 4 x 100m, Long Jump 1984–96 9 1 10 Click to show or hide the answer
Athletics 100m, 200m, 4 x 100m (3 in each) 2008–16 9 9 Click to show or hide the answer

The eight most successful British Olympians are:

Cycling Sprint, Team Sprint, Keirin 2008–16 6 1 7 Click to show or hide the answer
Cycling Sprint, Keirin, 1km Time Trial, Team Sprint 2000–12 6 1 7 Click to show or hide the answer
Cycling Pursuit, Team Pursuit, Madison, Time Trial 2000–16 5 1 2 8 Click to show or hide the answer
Rowing Coxed Pairs, Coxed Fours, Coxless Pairs, Coxless Fours 1984–2000 5 1 6 Click to show or hide the answer
Sailing Laser (1 gold, 1 silver), Finn (3 golds) 1996–2012 4 1 5 Click to show or hide the answer
Athletics 5,000m, 10,000m 2012–16 4 4 Click to show or hide the answer
Rowing Coxless Pairs (1992, 1996), Coxless Fours (2000, 2004) 1992–2004 4 4 Click to show or hide the answer
Swimming Water Polo (3 golds), 4x200m (1 gold 1908) 1908–20 4 4 Click to show or hide the answer
Cycling Omnium, Team Pursuit 2012–16 4 4 Click to show or hide the answer

Great Britain's most decorated female Olympian is:

Rowing Quadruple Sculls (2000, 2008), Coxless Pairs (2004), Double Sculls (2012, 2016) 2000–16 1 4 Click to show or hide the answer

Jason Kenny

Jason Francis Kenny's three gold medals at Rio in 2016 put him on equal terms with Sir Chris Hoy as Britain's most successful Olympian, with six golds and one silver. He was 28 years old at the time.

Beijing 2008 Gold medal Team Sprint, withChris Hoy (SCO), Jamie Staff (ENG)
Silver medal Sprint (behind Chris Hoy)
London 2012 Gold medal Team Sprint, withChris Hoy (SCO), Philip Hindes (ENG)
Gold medal Sprint
Rio de Janeiro 2016 Gold medal Team Sprint, withCallum Skinner (SCO), Philip Hindes (ENG)
Gold medal Sprint
Gold medal Keirin

Chris Hoy

Christopher Andrew Hoy's two gold medals at London 2012 made him Britain's most successful Olympian at the time (now equal with Jason Kenny). He won six golds and one silver:

Sydney 2000 Silver medal Team Sprint, withCraig McLean (SCO), Jason Queally (ENG)
Athens 2004 Gold medal 1 km time trial
Beijing 2008 Gold medal Team Sprint, withJason Kenny (ENG), Jamie Staff (ENG)
Gold medal Keirin
Gold medal Sprint
London 2012 Gold medal Team Sprint, withJason Kenny (ENG), Philip Hindes (ENG)
Gold medal Keirin

After Rio 2016, Jason Kenny and Chris Hoy share 29th place on the list of multiple Olympic gold medal winners. The people above them represent 13 different countries: eight of them are from the USA, four from the USSR, and three from Norway. Germany, Japan and Italy have two each; Finland, Jamaica, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Belgium, Russia and Sweden have one each. Norway three are the only Winter Olympians in the top 30; two of them are cross–country skiers and one is a biathlete.

For more details on some of these competitors, seebelow.

Bradley Wiggins

Sydney 2000 Bronze medal Team Pursuit, withPaul Manning (ENG), Chris Newton (ENG), Bryan Steel (ENG)
Athens 2004 Gold medal Individual Pursuit
Silver medal Team Pursuit, with Steve Cummings (ENG), Rob Hayles (ENG), Paul Manning (ENG)
Bronze medal Madison, with Rob Hayles (ENG)
Beijing 2008 Gold medal Team Pursuit, withEd Clancy (ENG), Paul Manning (ENG), Geraint Thomas (WAL)
Gold medal Individual Pursuit
London 2012 Gold medal Time Trial
Rio de Janeiro 2016 Gold medal Team Pursuit, with Ed Clancy (ENG), Steven Burke (ENG), Owain Doull (WAL)

Steve Redgrave

Steven Geoffrey Redgrave was Britain's most successful Olympian, until he was overtaken by Chris Hoy. He won five gold medals:

Los Angeles 1984 Gold medalCoxed Fours, withMartin Cross, Richard Budgett, Andrew Holmes, Adrian Ellison (cox)
Seoul 1988 Gold medalCoxless Pairs, withAndrew Holmes
Bronze medal Coxed Pairs, withAndrew Holmes, Patrick Sweeney
Barcelona 1992 Gold medalCoxless Pairs, withMatthew Pinsent
Atlanta 1996 Gold medalCoxless Pairs, withMatthew Pinsent
Sydney 2000 Gold medalCoxless Fours, withMatthew Pinsent, James Cracknell, Tim Foster

Redgrave and Pinsent's gold in the coxless pairs was the only gold medal that Britain (or the UK) won at Atlanta in 1996.

By a remarkable coincidence, Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny and Steve Redgrave share a birthday – 23 March (1976, 1988 and 1962 respectively). Great Britain's skeleton silver medallist Shelley Rudman was also born on 23 March (1981).

Actually, while this coincidence may seem remarkable, it's not that unusual – and to a statistician, it's not that surprising. Other famous people who share birthdays include tennis stars Tim Henman (6 September 1974) and Greg Rusedski (6 September 1973), and Hammer Horror film stars and Christopher Lee (27 May 1922) and Vincent Price (27 May 1911). What's more, Peter Cushing's birthday was just one day earlier (26 May 1913).

Ben Ainslie

Ben Ainslie has won more individual Olympic golds (that is, gold medals in individual events rather than team events) than any other British competitor.

He was the first person to carry the Olympic torch in Britain on its way to London in 2012, picking it up at Land's End.

Atlanta 1996 Silver medal Laser
Sydney 2000 Gold medal Laser
Athens 2004 Gold medal Finn
Beijing 2008 Gold medal Finn
London 2012 Gold medal Finn

Mo Farah

London 2012 Gold medal 5,000m
Gold medal 10,000m
Rio de Janeiro 2016 Gold medal 5,000m
Gold medal 10,000m

Matthew Pinsent

Barcelona 1992 Gold medal Coxless Pairs, withSteve Redgrave
Atlanta 1996 Gold medal Coxless Pairs, withSteve Redgrave
Sydney 2000 Gold medal Coxless Fours, withSteve Redgrave, James Cracknell, Tim Foster
Athens 2004 Gold medal Coxless Fours, withSteve Williams, James Cracknell, Ed Coode

Paul Radmilovic

Paolo Francesco Radmilovic was born in Cardiff in 1886. His father ran a public house in Cardiff, having emigrated from Dubrovnik (which was then in the Austro–Hungarian Empire, but is now in Croatia) in the 1860s. His mother was born in Cardiff, the daughter of Irish immigrants.

Radmilovic was basically a water polo player, but was drafted into the Great Britain relay team at the 1908 Olympics when one of the original team fell ill. He also competed in three individual swimming events in 1908, but didn't win any medals.

He was Great Britain's most successful Olympian, until his record was broken by Steve Redgrave at Atlanta in 1996. (After Atlanta, Redgrave had four gold medals and one bronze; he went on to win a fifth gold at Sydney in 2000.) Radmilovic would have been 110 years old in 1996, so not surprisingly he didn't live to see his record broken; he died in 1968, aged 82.

London 1908 Gold medal Water Polo
Gold medal 4 x 200m relay
Stockholm 1912 Gold medal Water Polo
Antwerp 1920 Gold medal Water polo

Laura Trott

London 2012 Gold medal Omnium 
Gold medal Team Pursuit, withDanielle King, Joanna Rowsell
Rio de Janeiro 2016 Gold medal Omnium 
Gold medal Team Pursuit, withKate Archibald, Elinor Barker, Joanna Rowsell

Katherine Grainger

Katherine Grainger is on this page because she has won more Olympic medals than any other British woman, and she's also won medals at more Olympiads than any other British woman.

Sydney 2000 Silver medal Quadruple ScullsGuin Batten, Miriam Batten, Gillian Lindsay
Athens 2004 Silver medal Coxless PairsCath Bishop
Beijing 2008 Silver medal Quadruple ScullsAnnabel Vernon, Debbie Flood, Frances Houghton
London 2012 Gold medal Double ScullsAnna Watkins
Rio de Janeiro 2016 Silver medal Double ScullsVictoria Thornley

British competitors with three gold medals

This section lists competitors who have won three Olympic gold medals for Great Britain, up to and including Rio de Janeiro 2016.

Sport Event(s) Years Gold medal Silver medal Bronze medal Total Name
Rowing Single sculls, double sculls, coxless fours, eights 1920–36 3 2 5 Click to show or hide the answer
Equestrian Dressage (2 individal golds, team gold and silver) 2012–16 3 1 4 Click to show or hide the answer
Swimming Freestyle (1 mile, 400m, 4 x 200m) 1908–20 3 2 5 Click to show or hide the answer
Cycling Team Pursuit (3 golds), Omnium (bronze 2012) 2008–16 3 1 4 Click to show or hide the answer
Tennis Doubles, Mixed Doubles, Singles (1 bronze) 1900–08 3 1 4 Click to show or hide the answer
Equestrian Eventing (Individual 1972, Team 1968 & 1972) 1968–72 3 3 Click to show or hide the answer
Rowing Coxless Fours (2008, 2012), Eights (2016) 2008–16 3 3 Click to show or hide the answer
Water Polo Team competition (1908, 1912, 1920) 1908–20 3 3 Click to show or hide the answer
Rowing Coxless Fours (2008, 2012), Eights (2016) 2008–16 3 3 Click to show or hide the answer
Water Polo Team competition (1900, 1908, 1912) 1900–12 3 3 Click to show or hide the answer

Michael Phelps

Michael Fred Phelps II (sic) is the greatest Olympian of all time. After Rio 2016 he had a total of 23 gold medals, three silver and two bronze – 28 in total. No one else has won more than nine golds. At Beijing in 2008 he won eight golds, breaking Mark Spitz's record of seven gold medals at the same Olympiad, set at Munich in 1972.

Butterfly Freestyle Medley
100m 200m 200m 4 x 100m 4 x 200m 200m 4 x 100m 4 x 200m
Athens 2004 Gold medal Gold medal Bronze medal Bronze medal Gold medal Gold medal Gold medal Gold medal
Beijing 2008 Gold medal Gold medal Gold medal Gold medal Gold medal Gold medal Gold medal Gold medal
London 2012 Gold medal Silver medal   Silver medal Gold medal Gold medal Gold medal  
Rio de Janeiro 2016 Silver medal Gold medal   Gold medal Gold medal Gold medal Gold medal  

Larisa Latynina

 Team All-Around Vault Floor Uneven Bars Balance Beam Team Apparatus
Melbourne 1956 Gold medal Gold medal Gold medal Gold medal Silver medal   Bronze medal
Rome 1960 Gold medal Gold medal Bronze medal Gold medal Silver medal Silver medal  
Tokyo 1964 Gold medal Silver medal Silver medal Gold medal Bronze medal Bronze medal  

Paavo Nurmi

Although he is probably the most successful Finnish athlete ever, Paavo Nurmi was not the original Flying Finn. According to Wikipedia, that honour goes to Hannes Kolehmainen, who won three gold medals at Stockholm in 1912. At Paris in 1924, there were two Flying Finns: as well as Nurmi's five golds, Ville Ritola won four golds and two silvers. He also beat Nurmi into second place in the 5,000m at Paris in 1924, and finished second behind Nurmi in the 10,000m. Volmari Iso–Hollo won the 3,000m in 1932 and 1936, and Taisto Maki held five world records in the 1940s. Finally, Lasse Viren won the 5,000m and the 10,000m in both 1972 and 1976.

Several motor racing drivers have also been known as the Flying Finn, including Keke Rosberg, Mika Häkkinen and Kimi Räikkönen.

Cross–Country 10,000m 5,000m 1,500m 3,000m Team 3,000m Steeplechase
Team Individual
Antwerp 1920 Gold medal Gold medal Gold medal Silver medal      
Paris 1924 Gold medal Gold medal   Gold medal Gold medal Gold medal  
Amsterdam 1928     Gold medal Silver medal     Silver medal

Mark Spitz

Mark Andrew Spitz won seven gold medals in Munich in 1972, which was a record until it was broken by Michael Phelps at Beijing in 2008. Spitz had previously won four medals at Mexico City in 1968, making eleven altogether:

Butterfly Freestyle Medley
100m 200m100m 200m 4 x 100m 4 x 200m 4 x 100m
Mexico City 1968 Silver medal   Bronze medal     Gold medal Gold medal
Munich 1972 Gold medal Gold medal Gold medal Gold medal Gold medal Gold medal Gold medal

Carl Lewis

Frederick Carlton Lewis won nine Olympic gold medals and one silver:

100m200m Long jump 4 x 100m relay
Los Angeles 19844 Gold medal Gold medal Gold medal Gold medal
Seoul 19882 + 1 Gold medal Silver medal Gold medal  
Barcelona 19922    Gold medal Gold medal
Atlanta 19961    Gold medal  

In Seoul he finished second in the 100m behind Canada's Ben Johnson, but was awarded the gold medal after Johnson tested positive for drugs. In the 200m he was beaten by his fellow American, Joe DeLoach.

Usain Bolt

  100m 200m 4 x 100m ... with
Beijing 2008 Gold medal Gold medal Gold medal Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, Asafa Powell
London 2012 Gold medal Gold medal Gold medal Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, Yohan Blake, (Kemar Bailey-Cole)
Rio de Janeiro 2016 Gold medal Gold medal Gold medal Asafa Powell, Yohan Blake, Nickel Ashmeade, (Jevaughn Minzie, Kemar Bailey–Cole)

Athletes whose names are in parentheses took part only in the heats, but did receive medals.

Other Countries

This section lists the most successful Olympians of other countries, where they're currently in the top 30 (i.e. they've won more gold medals than Chris Hoy or Jason Kenny, or the same number of golds and more in total). By "other countries", I mean countries whose most successful Olympians haven't been covered already on this page – i.e. countries other than Great Britain, the United States, the Soviet Union, Finland and Jamaica.

I don't think many question masters would expect you to be able to name any of these people, but it's conceivable that you might be asked which country they represented.

For example: "Ole Einar Bjørndalen, who has won 13 Olympic medals (including eight golds) in the Biathlon, up to and including 2014, is the most successful Olympian from which country?"

So, the country is what you can reveal in this table.

Posn Name Sport Gender Years Gold Silver Bronze Total Country
7 Ole Einar Bjørndalen Biathlon M 1998-2014 8 4 1 13 Click to show or hide the answer
8= Birgit Fischer Canoeing F 1980-2004 8 4 0 12 Click to show or hide the answer
10 Sawao Kato Gymnastics M 1968-76 8 3 1 12 Click to show or hide the answer
16 Věra Čáslavská Gymnastics F 1960-8 7 4 0 11 Click to show or hide the answer
18 Aladádar Gerevich Fencing M 1932-60 7 1 2 10 Click to show or hide the answer
19 Edoardo Mangiarotti Fencing M 1936-60 6 5 2 13 Click to show or hide the answer
23= Hubert van Innis Archery M 1900-20 6 3 0 9 Click to show or hide the answer
23= Lyubov Yegorova Cross-Country Skiing F 1992-4 6 3 0 9 Click to show or hide the answer
28 Gert Fredriksson Canoeing M 1948-60 6 1 1 8 Click to show or hide the answer

Birgit Fischer competed for East Germany up to and including 1988.

© Haydn Thompson 2017–18