Top 10 athletes with most Olympic medals ever: gold, silver and bronze

Michael Phelps, Larisa Latynina, Marit Bjorgen and 7 other legends of the Olympic Games.
Michael Phelps (USA) is the ultimate Olympian of our time

Michael Phelps (USA) is the ultimate Olympian of our time

by   Alex Weaver

Watching the Tokyo 2021 Olympics? It’s possible that one of the participating athletes may become the one who has the most medals in the Olympics history one day. Why not, with 12,500 participants from 206 countries taking part in the current Olympic Games.

To predict the future, one should be knowledgeable about the past. So let’s check the athletes who have the most Olympic medals by person: gold, silver and bronze.

1. Michael Phelps: athlete with most Olympic gold medals

Total medals — 26:

  • Gold (x23)
  • Silver (x3)
  • Bronze (x2)

The American swimmer Michael Fred Phelps II debuted at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. He was the youngest American swimmer in history and finished 5th.

After this debut, Phelps performed at the 2004 Olympics: here he received 6 gold and 2 bronze medals, which made him the second most titled athlete at a single competition.

Participating in the next Olympic Games, Michael Phelps won 8 gold medals and set a new world record of the highest number of gold medals per one Olympic event

At the 2012 Olympics, he won 5 medals (3 gold and 2 silver), which made him the most titled Olympic athlete of all times. At the previous Games in 2016, The Baltimore Bullet upheld this record and created a handicap, winning 5 gold medals and 1 silver.

Michael Phelps is the world record-holder for the most Olympic gold medals, both overall and in individual events.

His 23 gold victories at the Olympic Games are as follows:

  • 100 m butterfly (x3)
  • 200 m butterfly (x3)
  • 200 m medley (x4)
  • 400 m medley (x2)
  • 4×200 m freestyle (x4)
  • 4×100 m medley (x4)
  • 4×100 m freestyle (x2)
  • 200 m freestyle (x1)

The American also has the most medals of any kind (28), overall and in individual events.

2. Larisa Latynina: most titled Olympic athlete for 48 years

Total medals — 18:

  • Gold (x9)
  • Silver (x5)
  • Bronze (x4)

The USSR artistic gymnast Larisa Latynina debuted at the 1956 Summer Olympics in a status of the world champion. She received 6 medals at this event: 4 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze. Latynina was close to receiving the 7th medal, but took the 4th place.

The second Olympics with her participating was Rome 1960. Larysa Latynina won 6 medals: 3 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze. At the Tokyo 1964 Olympics, she took 2 first, 2 second and 2 third places, which made her the athlete with the most Olympic gold medals at the time. This record held until 2012, when she lost it to Michael Phelps.

Larisa Latynina holds the 9 following gold Olympic medals:

  • Team (x3)
  • All-around (x2)
  • Floor exercise (x3)
  • Vault (x1)

Larisa Latynina is still an athlete with the second most Olympic gold and total medals.

3. Marit Bjorgen: best Winter Olympics athlete

Total medals — 15:

  • Gold (x8)
  • Silver (x4)
  • Bronze (x3)

The Norwegian cross-country skier Marit Bjorgen started her Winter Olympic journey with a silver medal at Salt Lake City in 2002. At the 2006 Olympics, she repeated this result.

However, the 2010 Vancouver Games were the most successful Olympic event for Bjorgen. She received 5 medals: 3 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze.

The 2014 Sochi Games finished with 3 gold medals for Marit. And at the previous Olympic event in London, Marit Bjorgen won 2 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze medals.

All these results made her the third person with the most Olympic medals in history and the athlete with the most medals in the Winter Olympic Games.

Marit Bjorgen’s 8 gold titles are as follows:

  • Pursuit (x2)
  • 30 km (x2)
  • Sprint (x1)
  • 4×5 km relay (x2)
  • Team sprint (x1)

4. Nikolay Andrianov: best USSR Olympic male athlete

Total medals — 15:

  • Gold (x7)
  • Silver (x5)
  • Bronze (x3)

The USSR men’s artistic gymnast Nikolay Andrianov debuted at the Munich 1972 Olympic event. There he won 1 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze medals.

Andrianov topped this personal record more then twice with his second Olympic performance in 1976, where he won 7 titles: 4 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze.

His last Olympic performance came at the home tournament in Moscow in 1980. Nikolay Andrianov finished the event with 5 medals: 2 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze.

With these results, Andrianov is still the fourth person with the most Olympic medals ever.

The 7 gold victories of Nikolay Andrianov came in the following disciplines:

  • Team (x1)
  • All-around (x1)
  • Floor exercise (x2)
  • Vault (x2)
  • Rings (x1)

5. Ole Einar Bjorndalen: king of biathlon

Total medals — 13:

  • Gold (x8)
  • Silver (x4)
  • Bronze (x1)

The Norwegian biathlon legend Ole Bjorndalen started his Winter Olympic journey in the Nagano 1998 competitions. There he won 2 medals: 1 gold and 1 silver.

At the next Olympic tournament in Salt Lake City (2002), Bjorndalen won 4 gold medals. This Olympics was his best ever. He finished the 2006 Olympics without any gold medals, but The Red Devil took 2 second places and 1 bronze.

The Vancouver 2010 Games finished with 2 medals — 1 gold and 1 silver — for Ole Einar Bjorndalen. The last Olympics in which Bjorndalen participated took place in Sochi. In Russia, he pulled off a surprise win of 2 gold medals at the age of 40.

Now, Ole Einar Bjorndalen is the second most decorated athlete of the Winter Olympics.

Bjorndalen’s 8 gold victories came in these disciplines:

  • Individual (x1)
  • Sprint (x3)
  • Pursuit (x1)
  • Relay (x2)
  • Mixed relay (x1)

6. Boris Shaklin: world’s third best gymnast in history

Total medals — 13:

  • Gold (x7)
  • Silver (x4)
  • Bronze (x2)

The USSR artistic gymnast Boris Shaklin won 2 gold medals in his debut 1956 Olympic tournament in Melbourne.

The Rome 1960 Olympics was the most successful for him. Boris Shaklin won 7 medals: 4 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze. During the next Olympics in Tokyo, the Russian took 5 more trophies: 1 for first place, 2 for second place and 1 for third place.

Participating in 3 Olympic Games, Boris Shaklin became the 6th athlete with the most Olympic medals.

His 7 golden trophies were won in the following competitions:

  • Team (x1)
  • Pommel horse (x2)
  • All-around (x1)
  • Vault (x1)
  • Parallel bars (x1)
  • Horizontal bar (x1)

7. Edoardo Mangiarotti: best Italian athlete at Olympics

Total medals — 13:

  • Gold (x6)
  • Silver (x5)
  • Bronze (x2)

The Italian fencer Edoardo Mangiarotti debuted at Berlin in 1936. He performed in the team competitions, where the Italian fencing squad won a gold medal.

After this Olympics, Mangiarotti took a break due to World War II. Edoardo returned to the Olympics at the 1948 London tournament. He debuted in a solo category, where he took bronze, and won 2 silver medals with his squad.

At the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Edoardo Mangiarotti was more successful. He won gold and silver medals in solo events and showed the same results with his team.

The 1956 Melbourne finished with 2 gold and 1 bronze medal for him, while participating in the 1960 Olympics in Rome, he won gold and silver medals. These were the last for him.

Edoardo Mangiarotti’s 6 goldies are:

  • Team epee (x4)
  • Individual epee (x1)
  • Team foil (x1)

8. Takashi Ono: most decorated Japanese Olympian

Total medals — 13:

  • Gold (x5)
  • Silver (x4)
  • Bronze (x4)

The Japanese artistic gymnast Takashi Ono started his Olympics career at the 1952 Games in Helsinki. His first attempt seems to be disappointing when compared to his overall career results: Ono was unlucky enough, taking one bronze only. Despite this, he got 5 medals at the next Summer Olympic event in Melbourne: 1 gold, 3 silver and 1 bronze.

The third Olympics tournament Takashi Ono participated in was the most successful for him: he won 3 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze medals in Rome. Takashi finished his Olympic Games career performance at the home Olympic tournament in 1964, where he took 1 first place, which made him the best Japanese Olympian with the most Olympic medals.

Here are the 5 competitions where Ono won his gold titles:

  • Horizontal bar (x2)
  • Team (x2)
  • Vault (x1)

9. Nurmi Paavo: most successful Olympian with no bronzes

Total medals — 12:

  • Gold (x9)
  • Silver (x3)
  • Bronze (x0)

The Finnish running legend Nurmi Paavo had one of the best starts to an Olympic career. It was the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium, where he took 3 gold medals and 1 silver. He won 5 gold awards at the 1924 Paris and set a record of an athlete with the most Olympic gold medals of his time. The last Olympic tournament where Paavo participated was the least successful, but still his results were incredible: the Finn received 1 gold and 2 silvers.

The 9 gold victories of Nurmi Paavo are as follows:

  • 10,000 m (x2)
  • 5000 m (x1)
  • 1500 m (x1)
  • Individual cross country (x2)
  • Team cross country (x2)
  • 3000 m team (x1)

10. Bjorn Delhi and Birgit Fischer: joint top 10 Olympians

Total medals — 12 (each):

  • Gold (x8)
  • Silver (x4)
  • Bronze (x0)

The Norwegian cross-country skier Bjorn Dehli is the best male athlete in the world in his discipline, compared only to his countryman Marit Bjorgen. He won 1 silver and 3 gold medals in his first Olympic tournament in Albertville in 1992. The second Olympics Dehli participated in brought him 2 gold and 2 silver awards. These results made Bjorn Delhi the most titled skier and the most titled Norwegian athlete at the time. He continued his way at the 1998 Olympics, which was his last, finishing with the same result as the first time.

Golden results of Bjorn Delhi:

  • 10 km + 15 km combined pursuit (x2)
  • 50 km freestyle (x2)
  • 4 × 10 km relay (x2)
  • 10 km classical (x2)

The German canoeing athlete Birgit Fischer has leveled with Delhi by the total amount of medals. She participated in a crazy 6 Summer Olympic events, from 1980 to 2004, with a single exception — Los Angeles 1984 Olympics. She represented East Germany in 1980 and 1988, after which she continued as an athlete for a united Germany. The most successful Olympics for Birgit Fischerwas 1988 Seoul, where she won 2 golds and 1 silver.

Golden results of Birgit Fischer:

  • K-1 500 m (x2)
  • K-2 500 m (x2)
  • K-4 500 m (x4)

Now you know 10 athletes who have the most Olympic medals in history!

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