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Top 10 Greatest Olympians Of All Time

  • Post category:Olympics
  • Reading time:19 mins read
  • Post last modified:February 3, 2023

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In this post, we will check out the top 10 greatest Olympians of all time.

The Olympics is the world’s largest and most prestigious sporting event, bringing together the best athletes from all over the world to compete for the title of Olympic champion.

Since the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896, millions of athletes have participated, but only a select few have left a lasting impact on the world of sports and have been remembered as some of the greatest Olympians of all time.

These athletes have not only excelled in their respective sports but have also inspired generations with their hard work, determination, and dedication to their craft.  

We will gonna talk about those players and their jaw-dropping records which will make you say “WOW”.

Today, we will check out the top 10 greatest Olympians of all time who have contrived to defy the odds to make their name for themselves.

Top 10 Greatest Olympians Of All-Time

10 Jackie Joyner-Kersee 

Image Credit- Sky Sports

Jackie Joyner-Kersee is an American track and field athlete listed among the all-time greatest athletes in the heptathlon as well as long jump.

She won three gold, one silver, and two bronze Olympic medals in both events at four different Olympic Games. That is something to consider of.

Sports Illustrated for Women magazine declared Joyner-Kersee the Greatest Female Athlete of All-Time. Joyner-Kersee’s dominance in the heptathlon is unmatchable.

She won back-to-back gold medals in 1988 and 1992 in the heptathlon and also won gold in the long jump, in 1988. During the later phase of his Olympic career, she won bronze medals in the long jump in 1992 and 1996.

She was the first American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in the long jump and the first woman to collect more than 7,000 points in the seven-event heptathlon.

She had a total of 6 medals which includes heptathlon and long jump. Joyner-Kersee will remain one of the greatest female athletes of all time. Kersee is number 10 in our list of top 10 greatest Olympians of all-time.

9 Florence Griffith-Joyner

Image Credit- Vogue

Florence Griffith Joyner, also known as Flo-Jo, was an American track and field athlete. She set world records in 1988 for both the 100 m and 200 m.

During the late 1980s, she is one of the popular figures and fastest sprinter in the women category. She is known for his top-class athleticism and electric speed.

Florence started training as a professional at a very young age. She made her Olympic debut in 1984 winning a silver medal in the 200-meter distance which was held in Los Angeles.

At the 1988 U.S. Olympic trials, Griffith set a new world record in the 100-meter sprint. She went on to win three gold medals at the 1988 Olympics.

At the end of the Olympics, Griffith has won four medals, of which three are gold and one is silver. During her time she was the most dominant athlete in the 100 and 200 m categories.

In February 1989, Griffith-Joyner retired from athletics. However, she already set a trend in track & field which is hard to be matched again.

Her accomplishment as an athlete will remain forever in the hearts of fans around the world. Her world records in the 100 meters (10.49 seconds) and 200 meters (21.34 seconds) stood since 1988. Griffith Joyner is number 8 in our list of top 10 greatest Olympians of all-time.

8 Nadia Comaneci

Image Credit- Rolandia

Nadia Comaneci is a five-time Olympic gold medalist, all in individual events. At an age of 14, Comăneci became the first gymnast to be awarded a perfect score of 10.0 at the Olympic Games.

The interesting fact is that at the same Games (1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal), she got six more perfect 10s for events which ultimately led her to win three gold medals.

He continued his dominance at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow and won two more gold medals with two more perfect 10s. During her career, Comăneci had won a total of nine Olympic medals.

She was so good at the event that she even broke the scoreboard. She left a legacy that was not easy for anyone to be repeated. Comaneci was identified as the ‘perfect athlete.’

Comăneci will be remembered as one of the world’s best-known gymnasts of all time. In 2000, she was elected as one of the Athletes of the 20th Century by the Laureus World Sports Academy.

Comaneci remains one of the sport’s most renowned and decorated athletes of all time. She will remain the youngest(14 years) ever gymnast to win gold as the age to participate in the Olympics has been raised to 16 years.

7 Larisa Latynina

Image Credit- Olympics

Larisa Latynina is a soviet artistic gymnast. She won 14 individual Olympic medals and 4 team medals between 1956 to 1964. She holds the record for the most Olympic gold medals by a gymnast with 9.

Her total of 18 Olympic medals was a record for 48 years. She also held the record for individual event medals with 14 for 52 years. These stats prove the dominance of Larisa in the Gymnastic category.

Michael Phelps is the only athlete to date who has more individual medals in Olympic history than Larisa Latynina.

In her very first Olympic appearance in 1965 which was held in Melbourne, Latynina got four gold medals and one silver and one bronze in the uneven bars and team apparatus events.

She continued her red hot form in the 1960 Rome Games and led the Soviet Union to another gold win at the team event and won two golds in the all-around and floor exercise events.

After the end of the 1964 Games, she owned nine gold medals and 18 Olympic medals which were world records at the time.

She remains one of the most decorated athletes in the Olympic history, and one of the top players for the Soviet Union in gymnastics. Larisa Latynina is number 7 in our list of top 10 greatest Olympians of all-time.

6 Paavo Nurmi

top 10 greatest olympians of all-time
Image Credit- Olympics

Paavo Nurmi is a Finnish middle-distance and long-distance runner. He was named the “Flying Finn” or the “Phantom Finn”, as he commanded the distance running in the early 20th century.

Nurmi set 22 official world records at distances between 1500 meters and 20 kilometers. He won a total of nine gold and three silver medals in his twelve events in the Summer Olympic Games.

At his peak, Nurmi was unbeaten for 121 races at distances from 800 m upwards. During his 14-year career, he continued unbeaten in cross country events and the 10,000 meters.

One of the most remarkable feats of his career happened in the 1924 games when Nurmi’s won both 1500m and 5,000m golds within a period of 90 minutes. A word that can describe Nurmi is ‘Legend’.

He won 5 Olympic Gold medals in a single edition of the Olympics. In 1923, Nurmi became the first runner to hold synchronous world records in the mile, the 5000 m, and the 10,000 m races, an achievement that was never been repeated again.

The stats show that there is Simply no one who gonna replace or dominate the game like Paavo Nurmi. At his final Olympic Nurmi won the 10,000m race and took the silver medals in the 5000m and steeplechase events.

5 Jesse Owens

top 10 greatest olympians of all-time
Image Credit- Guardian

Jesse Owens is an American track and field athlete who won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games. Owens may not stand out in the overall medals tally than the others but his impact on the game is hard to forget.

The American’s four golds which include two world records that too in front of Hitler in 1936 take a lot of pride. Owens trained in the sprints and the long jump and was known as the greatest and most famous athlete in track and field history.

He set three world records and tied another, all in less than an hour. A feat that was never be repeated again and has been named”the greatest 45 minutes ever in sport”.

His achievements still can’t be compared with the other top athletes due to the politics that were clouded around the American sprinter. He has surely presented a significant role in opposing Adolf Hitler’s myth of Aryan supremacy.

Due to this fact, many considered him one of the greatest Olympians of all time. So when it comes to impact on the game nobody can be even close to the great Jesse Owens.

Due to the Second World War, Owens did not engage with any further Olympics, his tally of four gold medals will go down in history. Jesse Owens is number 5 in our list of top 10 greatest Olympians of all-time.

4 Usain Bolt

top 10 greatest olympians of all-time
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Usain Bolt is widely regarded to be the greatest sprinter of all time. He holds the world record in 100 meters, 200 meters, and 4 × 100 meters relay.

The extravagant Jamaican is known for his Lightning speed and ultimate celebration. He ended his career with eight gold medals to his name.

Bolt is the only sprinter in the world to win Olympic 100 m and 200 m titles at three back-to-back Olympics (2008, 2012, and 2016). He also has won two 4 × 100 relay gold medals.

His record of 9.58 secs in 100m is still gonna take a lot of hard work for the other athletes to break. Usain Bolt is the fastest man ever and it’s interesting to see that who will gonna take his title in the future.

Bolt broke his own record in100 m from 9.69 to 9.58 seconds in 2009 – the biggest improvement since the start of electronic timing. He has also broken the 200 meters world record twice the first one is 19.30 in 2008 and the second is 19.19 in 2009.

His accomplishments as a sprinter have earned him the media nickname “Lightning Bolt”. His awards include the IAAF World Athlete of the Year, Track & Field Athlete of the Year, BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year (three times), and Laureus World Sportsman of the Year (four times).

3 Carl Lewis

top 10 greatest olympians of all-time
Image Credit- Allison Stokke

Carl Lewis is an American former track and field athlete who won nine Olympic gold medals, one Olympic silver medal, and 10 World Championships medals, including eight gold.

His career was forded from 1979 to 1996, and he is one of only six Olympic athletes who won a gold medal in the same individual event in four back-to-back Olympic Games.

We know the great Usain Bolt, however, track and field dominance started from magnetic Lewis when he dominated track and field to defend his Olympic 100m title in 1984 and 1988. He has also claimed four consecutive Olympic long-jump golds.

His back-to-back 65 consecutive victories in the long jump over a span of 10 years are one of the sport’s greatest undefeated streaks ever. During his athletics career, Lewis broke 10 seconds for the 100 meters fifteen times and 20 seconds for the 200 meters ten times. Lewis also long jumped over 28 feet seventy-one times.

His achievements have led him to win numerous accolades, which includes”World Athlete of the Century” by the International Association of Athletics Federations and “Sportsman of the Century” by the International Olympic Committee, “Olympian of the Century” by Sports Illustrated, and “Athlete of the Year” by Track & Field News in 1982, 1983, and 1984.

It’s just impossible to make a list of the greatest Olympians without the name of Carl Lewis. He is number 3 in our list of top 10 greatest Olympians of all time.

2 Mark Spitz

top 10 greatest olympians of all-time
Image Credit- Eurosport

Mark Spitz is an American swimmer and nine-time Olympic champion. He was one of the most successful athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympics which was held in Munich.

He won seven gold medals, all in world record time. This achievement has lasted for 36 years which was later surpassed by another American Michael Phelps, who won eight golds at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Mark Spitz competed in two Olympic Games of 1968 and 1972 and won a total of nine gold medals, a silver, and bronze.

During his golden years, he set 35 world records, two of which happened in trials and unofficial. Swimming World Magazine titled him World Swimmer of the Year in 1969, 1971, and 1972.

Mark Spitz has a total of 11 Olympic medals which includes 9 gold. His stats are breathtaking in the 1972 Olympics and was the most successful athlete at the event.

1 Michael Phelps

top 10 greatest olympians of all-time
Image Credit- The New Yorker

Michael Phelps is the most flourishing and most decorated Olympian of all time with a total of 28 medals. Phelps also owns the all-time records for Olympic gold medals (23).

He broke the record set by Mark Spitz in the 1972 Olympics when he won the eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games.

He has won 82 medals in major international long course competitions, out of which 65 were gold, 14 silver, and three bronze, spanning the Olympics, the World Championships, and the Pan Pacific Championships.

Phelps’s phenomenal records and titles have made him the World Swimmer of the Year Award eight times and the American Swimmer of the Year Award eleven times.

Statistically, no one is even close to the medal tally of the great Michael Phelps. His most imminent rival is Matt Biondi, Jenny Thompson who has eight golds while Mark Spitz has nine gold medals. 

The interesting fact about Michael Phelps is that he has won more medals than 161 countries. Due to his immense success at Olympics, he is widely regarded as the greatest swimmer of all time and is often acknowledged to be one of the greatest athletes of all time.

Kamran Khan

A geek, who just loves to update sports, gaming, and tech updates from around the world to the other geeks out there. A passionate sports lover, a tech geek from the mind, and a gamer from the heart.

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