Individual and Team Olympic Medal Records

So we know who holds the Olympic records for most medals won and most gold medals won – that’s an easy one, Michael Phelps, who has won 22 medals and 18 gold medals (and is probably not done yet).

But Phelps won 9 medals in relay races, winning a medal in every swim relay race in 2004, 2008, and 2012, so he had a little help. What about winning individual medals? Who has won the most individual medals and individual gold medals? Is it still Phelps?

Not quite. The most individual medals title still belongs to Larisa Latynina, the Soviet gymnast who won 18 medals in all, the records that Phelps broke in London. Latynina won 14 of those medals by herself. Here is the list of all those winning 9 or more individual medals, and women who won 8 or more:

IndMeds Name Gdr Ssn NOC Sport
14 Larysa Latynina F S URS GYM
13 Michael Phelps M S USA SWI
12 Nikolay Andrianov M S URS GYM
10 Borys Shakhlin M S URS GYM
10 Takashi Ono M S JPN GYM
10 Aleksey Nemov M S RUS GYM
10 Ray Ewry M S USA ATH
9 Ole Einar Bjørndalen M W NOR BIA
9 Paavo Nurmi M S FIN ATH
9 Bjørn Dæhlie M W NOR CCS
9 Sawao Kato M S JPN GYM
9 Viktor Chukarin M S URS GYM
9 Vitaly Shcherbo M S BLR GYM
9 Martin Sheridan M S USA ATH
8 Věra Čáslavská F S TCH GYM
8 Claudia Pechstein F W GER SSK
8 Karin Enke-Kania F W GDR SSK
8 Gunda Niemann-St’mann-Kleemann F W GER SSK

Larysa Latynina
As you can see, Latynina is the only woman with more than 8 individual medals, with 4 women tied at that level. Two people on this list, Ray Ewry and Martin Sheridan, won some of their medals in 1906 (Ewry 2, Sheridan 5), so purists may demur and drop them from this list.

As to individual golds, yes, Phelps does lead this list with 11. And again, Ewry presents a problem with 10, including 2 in 1906, but he would still be second with 8, if you skip the 1906 Intercalated Olympics. Here is the list of all Olympians with 5 or more individual gold medals:

IndGolds Name Gdr Ssn NOC Sport
11 Michael Phelps M S USA SWI
10 Ray Ewry M S USA ATH
7 Věra Čáslavská F S TCH GYM
7 Carl Lewis M S USA ATH
6 Larysa Latynina F S URS GYM
6 Nikolay Andrianov M S URS GYM
6 Borys Shakhlin M S URS GYM
6 Paavo Nurmi M S FIN ATH
6 Bjørn Dæhlie M W NOR CCS
6 Lidiya Skoblikova F W URS SSK
5 Ole Einar Bjørndalen M W NOR BIA
5 Sawao Kato M S JPN GYM
5 Viktor Chukarin M S URS GYM
5 Vitaly Shcherbo M S BLR/EUN GYM
5 Martin Sheridan M S USA ATH
5 Nadia Comăneci F S ROU GYM
5 Gert Fredriksson M S SWE CAN
5 Krisztina Egerszegi F S HUN SWI
5 Clas Thunberg M W FIN SSK
5 Vitaly Shcherbo M S EUN GYM
5 Bonnie Blair F W USA SSK
5 Eric Heiden M W USA SSK

The women’s leader is Czechoslovak gymnast Věra Čáslavská with 7 individual gold medals, followed by Latynina, and Soviet speed skater Lidiya Skoblikova, both with 6. Among Winter Olympians, Skoblikova is tied with Norwegian cross-country skiier Bjørn Dæhlie, with 6 individual gold medals, followed by 4 Winter Olympians with 5: Norwegian biathlete Ole Einar Bjørndalen, Finnish speed skater Clas Thunberg, and American speed skaters Bonnie Blair and Eric Heiden.

So who has won the most Olympic medals, without ever winning an individual medal? I dare say nobody in the twitterverse would ever get this trivia question correct, except for possibly the athlete herself, and even she may not know it. It is the Hungarian canoeist Katalin Kovács, who has won 8 Olympic medals from 2000-12, but never an individual one. Here are all those who won 6 or more Olympic medals, but never won an individual medal. As you would expect, they tend to be in sports with no, or few, opportunities to win individual medals.

Medals Name Gdr Ssn NOC Sport
8 Katalin Kovács F S HUN CAN
7 Willis Lee M S USA SHO
7 Bogdan Musiol M W GDR/GER BOB
6 Georgeta Damian-Andrunache F S ROU ROW
6 Steven Redgrave M S GBR ROW
6 Doina Ignat F S ROU ROW
6 Veronica Cogeanu-Cochelea F S ROU ROW
6 Wolfgang Hoppe M W GDR/GER BOB
6 Eugenio Monti M W ITA BOB

Katalin Kovács

Now who has won the most Olympic gold medals but never won an individual gold? This one some people may get, as Jenny Thompson won 12 medals and 8 golds in swimming for the United States and leads the list, and is fairly well known. Her frustration at not winning an individual gold was well publicized (as was the same for her frequent teammate, Dara Torres – of note, Thompson and Torres were, and are, not friends). In fact this is not even close, as she leads 5 athletes with 5 team gold medals, with another 21 winning only 4 team golds. Here is the list of all those with 4 or more Olympic gold medals, but no individual gold medals:

Golds Name Gdr Ssn NOC Sport
8 Jenny Thompson F S USA SWI
5 Tom Jager M S USA SWI
5 Willis Lee M S USA SHO
5 Georgeta Damian-Andrunache F S ROU ROW
5 Steven Redgrave M S GBR ROW
5 Anastasiya Davydova F S RUS SYN
4 Dara Torres F S USA SWI
4 Ricco Groß M W GER BIA
4 Jason Lezak M S USA SWI
4 Einar Liberg M S NOR SHO
4 Lloyd Spooner M S USA SHO
4 Katrin Wagner-Augustin F S GER CAN
4 Doina Ignat F S ROU ROW
4 Aleksandr Tikhonov M W URS BIA
4 Jayna Hefford F W CAN ICH
4 Kevin Kuske M W GER BOB
4 André Lange M W GER BOB
4 Oreste Puliti M S ITA FEN
4 Hayley Wickenheiser F W CAN ICH
4 Kathrin Boron F S GER ROW
4 Teresa Edwards F S USA BAS
4 Jon Olsen M S USA SWI
4 Viorica Susanu F S ROU ROW
4 Lisa Leslie F S USA BAS
4 Caroline Ouellette F W CAN ICH
4 Matthew Pinsent M S GBR ROW
4 Anastasiya Yermakova F S RUS SYN

So what does this all mean? Hell, we don’t know, but it was fun doing these lists!

Olympic Medal Record Progressions

We know that American swimmer Michael Phelps won 6 medals in London in 2012, giving him a total of 22 Olympic medals. We also know that this broke the record for the most Olympic medals all-time, breaking the record of 18 that had been held since 1964 by Soviet gymnast Larysa Latynina. Who held the record before Latynina? In baseball, track & field, and several other sports, the list of record progressions is well studied. Is there such a list of the progression of most Olympic medals? Well, we’ve never seen one before but we decided to provide these lists for you, in various permutations.

Here is the overall list for most Olympic medals won. Note that everyone on the list was male except Latynina, so we have also provided the male progression by adding in Nikolay Andrianov.

Medals Name Gdr Ssn NOC Sport Year
6 Hermann Weingärtner M S GER GYM 1896
6 Bob Garrett M S USA ATH 1900
6 Anton Heida M S USA GYM 1904
6 George Eyser M S USA GYM 1904
6 Burton Downing M S USA CYC 1904
6 Ray Ewry M S USA ATH 1904
7 Léon Moreaux M S FRA SHO 1906
8 Ray Ewry M S USA ATH 1906
10 Ray Ewry M S USA ATH 1908
8 Ray Ewry M S USA ATH 1908
10 Hubert Van Innis M S BEL ARC 1920
11 Carl Osburn M S USA SHO 1924
12 Paavo Nurmi M S FIN ATH 1928
13 Edoardo Mangiarotti M S ITA FEN 1960
18 Larysa Latynina F S URS GYM 1964
15 Nikolay Andrianov M S URS GYM 1980
22 Michael Phelps M S USA SWI 2012

Two marks for men on this list lasted for 32 years – Paavo Nurmi’s 12 medals, which stood from 1928-60, and Nikolay Andrianov’s 15 medal mark for men, which stood from 1980-2012. Of course, Latynina’s mark lasted for 48 years until Phelps broke it in 2012.

Here is the list for women only, all at the Summer Olympics:

Medals Name Gdr Ssn NOC Sport Year
2 Charlotte Cooper F S GBR TEN 1900
2 Countess Hélène de Pourtalès F S SUI SAI 1900
2 Hélène Prévost F S FRA TEN 1900
2 Marion Jones F S USA TEN 1900
2 Hedwiga Rosenbaumová F S BOH TEN 1900
3 Lida Howell F S USA ARC 1904
3 Emma Cooke F S USA ARC 1904
3 Eliza Pollock F S USA ARC 1904
3 Ethelda Bleibtrey F S USA SWI 1920
3 Suzanne Lenglen F S FRA TEN 1920
3 Frances Schroth F S USA SWI 1920
5 Kitty McKane F S GBR TEN 1924
7 Mariya Horokhovska F S URS GYM 1952
10 Ágnes Keleti F S HUN GYM 1956
12 Larysa Latynina F S URS GYM 1960
18 Larysa Latynina F S URS GYM 1964

Latynina’s record for women, with 18 medals, will have stood for 52 years in Rio de Janeiro, and will likely stand for many more Olympiads.

Now at the Winter Games, the progression actually entails a combination of men and women:

Medals Name Gdr Ssn NOC Sport Year
2 Madge Syers F W GBR FSK 1908
2 Phyllis Johnson F W GBR FSK 1920
5 Clas Thunberg M W FIN SSK 1924
7 Clas Thunberg M W FIN SSK 1928
7 Ivar Ballangrud M W NOR SSK 1936
7 Veikko Hakulinen M W FIN CCS 1960
9 Sixten Jernberg M W SWE CCS 1964
9 Raisa Smetanina F W URS CCS 1988
10 Raisa Smetanina F W EUN/URS CCS 1992
12 Bjørn Dæhlie M W NOR CCS 1998
13 Ole Einar Bjørndalen M W NOR BIA 2014

Following are the winter lists for men and women separately:

Medals Name Gdr Ssn NOC Sport Year
1 9 athletes tied M W FSK 1908
1 9 athletes tied M W FSK 1920
1 24 athletes tied M W ICH 1920
5 Clas Thunberg M W FIN SSK 1924
5 Roald Larsen M W NOR SSK 1924
7 Clas Thunberg M W FIN SSK 1928
7 Ivar Ballangrud M W NOR SSK 1936
7 Veikko Hakulinen M W FIN CCS 1960
9 Sixten Jernberg M W SWE CCS 1964
12 Bjørn Dæhlie M W NOR CCS 1998
13 Ole Einar Bjørndalen M W NOR BIA 2014
Medals Name Gdr Ssn NOC Sport Year
2 Madge Syers F W GBR FSK 1908
2 Phyllis Johnson F W GBR FSK 1920
2 Ludovika Jakobsson-Eilers F W FIN FSK 1924
3 Andrée Brunet-Joly F W FRA FSK 1932
3 Beatrix Loughran F W USA FSK 1932
3 Sonja Henie F W NOR FSK 1936
3 Trude Jochum-Beiser F W AUT ASK 1952
3 Mirl Buchner F W GER ASK 1952
4 Lyubov Kozyreva-Baranova F W URS CCS 1960
4 Radiya Yeroshina F W URS CCS 1960
6 Lidiya Skoblikova F W URS SSK 1964
7 Galina Kulakova F W URS CCS 1976
8 Galina Kulakova F W URS CCS 1980
9 Raisa Smetanina F W URS CCS 1988
10 Raisa Smetanina F W EUN/URS CCS 1992
10 Stefania Belmondo F W ITA CCS 2002
10 Marit Bjørgen F W NOR CCS 2014

Now what about gold medals and the progression lists for them? Here is the list for men at the Summer Olympics – here again we have the problem with the 1906 Olympics so we have listed Ray Ewry, both with and without those Games:

Golds Name Gdr Ssn NOC Sport Year
3 Hermann Weingärtner M S GER GYM 1896
3 Alfred Flatow M S GER GYM 1896
3 Paul Masson M S FRA CYC 1896
3 Carl Schuhmann M S GER GYM/WRE 1896
3 Carl Schuhmann M S GER GYM 1896
4 Al Kraenzlein M S USA ATH 1900
6 Ray Ewry M S USA ATH 1904
8 Ray Ewry M S USA ATH 1906
10 Ray Ewry M S USA ATH 1908
8 Ray Ewry M S USA ATH 1908
9 Paavo Nurmi M S FIN ATH 1928
9 Mark Spitz M S USA SWI 1972
9 Carl Lewis M S USA ATH 1996
14 Michael Phelps M S USA SWI 2008
18 Michael Phelps M S USA SWI 2012

One thing to note above, if one disregards the 1906 Olympics, is how long Paavo Nurmi’s record of 9 gold medals lasted, fully 44 years, until tied in 1972 by Mark Spitz.

Now the women’s Summer Olympic gold medal record progression:

Golds Name Gdr Ssn NOCGolds SptGolds Year
2 Charlotte Cooper F S GBR TEN 1900
3 Lida Howell F S USA ARC 1904
3 Ethelda Bleibtrey F S USA SWI 1920
3 Martha Norelius F S USA SWI 1928
3 Helene Madison F S USA SWI 1932
3 Rie Mastenbroek F S NED SWI 1936
4 Fanny Blankers-Koen F S NED ATH 1948
5 Ágnes Keleti F S HUN GYM 1956
7 Larysa Latynina F S URS GYM 1960
9 Larysa Latynina F S URS GYM 1964

Note that Latynina still holds this record, and has held it since 1960 – which will be 56 years in Rio.

Following are the gold medal record progressions for men and women at the Winter Games:

Golds Name Gdr Ssn NOCGolds SptGolds Year
3 Clas Thunberg M W FIN SSK 1924
5 Clas Thunberg M W FIN SSK 1928
5 Eric Heiden M W USA SSK 1980
5 Bjørn Dæhlie M W NOR CCS 1994
8 Bjørn Dæhlie M W NOR CCS 1998
8 Ole Einar Bjørndalen M W NOR BIA 2014

Note here how long Clas Thunberg’s 5 gold medal record lasted – from 1928 until 1980 when it was tied by Eric Heiden, and until 1998 when it was broken by Bjørn Dæhlie.

Golds Name Gdr Ssn NOCGolds SptGolds Year
2 Andrée Brunet-Joly F W FRA FSK 1932
3 Sonja Henie F W NOR FSK 1936
6 Lidiya Skoblikova F W URS SSK 1964
6 Lyubov Yegorova F W EUN/RUS CCS 1994
6 Marit Bjørgen F W NOR CCS 2014

Again, two long-lasting records, with Sonja Henie leading the list from 1936-64, and Lidiya Skoblikova leading the list from 1964 through 2014, although her 6 gold medals have been tied twice.

The unluckiest countries at the Olympics

We’ve written before about unlucky Olympians here on OlympStats – Olympic athletes who came closest to winning an Olympic medal, but never did. But which nations have come closest to winning an Olympic medal without actually doing so?

Erick Barrondo’s silver medal removed Guatemala from the list of “unluckiest” nations at the Olympics

Until 2012, the clear number one was Guatemala. The Central American nation had raked up three 4th places (including one in the art competitions), four 5th places (adding a fifth in London) and four more places between 6th and 8th. But race walker Erick Barrondo ended his country’s medal drought and became the first Guatemalteco win an Olympic medal with a silver medal in the 20 km.

Nan Aye Khine earned a 4th place for Myanmar (Burma), but was disqualified afterwards for steroid use.

With Guatemala out of contention, here are four nations that have finished 4th on one occasion. Of these nations, the one with the most 5th places is Myanmar, previously known as Burma. The South East Asian country is relatively strong in weightlifting and boxing. Win Kay Thi earned a 4th place in the 2000 women’s flyweight weightlifting, and two more weightlifters and two boxers have ranked 5th (or losing quarter-finalist) in the past. The nation lost another 4th place, achieved in 2004, when it was found that another female weightlifter, Nan Aye Khine, had used anabolic steroids.

Alessandra Perilli took a shot at the medals in London, but narrowly failed.

Behind Myanmar, the unluckiest nation is San Marino. The tiny enclave republic, embedded within Italy, had its best result in London. Trap shooter Alessandra Perilli was involved in a three-way shoot-off for silver and bronze, but missed her second shot and fell outside of the podium. Prior to Perilli, other Sanmarinese shooters had also come close to the prizes: Francesco Nanni was 5th in 1984 (small-bore rifle, prone), while trap shooters Emanuela Felici (twice) and Francesco Amici had earned 7th places.

Ibrahim Kamal (Jordan) lost the bronze medal match in his taekwondo event, but still achieved his country’s best ever Olympic performance.

Similarly close has been Jordan, which has placed 4th, 5th and 7th in taekwondo. Samoa is closing in on these countries:in London 2012, they earned a 6th and two 7th places (weightlifting and taekwondo), adding to a 4th place won in Beijing.

Olympic Challenge Trophies

It is not well known, but in the early years of the Modern Olympic Games, from 1906-1920, a number of IOC Challenge Trophies were awarded. These were special trophies that were donated, usually by quite prominent persons, and the trophies were given to the winners of the various events on a temporary basis. The trophies were in addition to the gold medal awards, and had to be returned to the IOC prior to the next Olympic Games.

At the 1908 Olympic Games in London there were 12 challenges. Three more were donated at the 13th IOC Session (1910). When further challenges came to the IOC in 1911 it was then decided that no further Challenge Trophies would be accepted. Some of the challenge trophies were not awarded and strangely, a few of the challenges were for the same events. The last three challenge trophies that were donated were never awarded and the event for which they were to be given was also never announced.

At the 22nd IOC Session in Rome on 12 April 1923, the IOC discontinued the practice of awarding challenge trophies. Most of the trophies still reside in the Olympic Museum in Lausanne. In 1946, the Baroness de Coubertin, widow of Pierre de Coubertin, donated a final challenge trophy that was never awarded. The other two trophies that were never awarded were donated by the Czechoslovakian President and the Italian Gymnastics Federation.

The most well-known challenge trophy was that won by Jim Thorpe in 1912 for the decathlon, given by the Russian Emperor. When Thorpe’s medals were returned by the IOC in 1982, the family questioned if they should also receive the challenge trophy, but as stated, these were to be temporary and returned to the IOC at the next Olympics, so after 1920, Thorpe’s family had no official claim to them.

Here are the lists of all the Challenge Trophies awarded, from 1906-1920:

Donor (Event) 1906
Unknown Donor (ancient pentathlon) Hjalmar Mellander
Donor (Event) 1908
Mme. de Montgomery (discus throw) Martin Sheridan
Gold & Silversmiths (heavyweight wrestling) Richárd Weisz
The Football Association (football) Great Britain
Brunetta d’Usseaux (coxed eights rowing) Great Britain
Brunetta d’Usseaux (1500 swimming) Henry Taylor
Lord Westbury (clay trap shooting) Walter Ewing
King of Greece (marathon footrace) Johnny Hayes
The English Fencers (épée team) France
City of Prague (individual gymnastics) Alberto Braglia
French Government (6 metre yachting) Great Britain
Prince of Wales (100 km cycling) Charles Bartlett
Hurlingham Club (polo) Great Britain
Donor (Event) 1912
Mme. de Montgomery (discus throw) Armas Taipale
Gold & Silversmiths (heavyweight wrestling) Yrjö Saarela
The Football Association (football) Great Britain
Brunetta d’Usseaux (coxed eights rowing) Great Britain
Brunetta d’Usseaux (1500 swimming) George Hodgson
Lord Westbury (clay trap shooting) James Graham
King of Greece (marathon footrace) Kenneth McArthur
The English Fencers (épée team) Belgium
City of Prague (individual gymnastics) Alberto Braglia
French Government (6 metre yachting) France
King of Sweden (pentathlon) Jim Thorpe
Swedish Calvary (overall equestrian) Sweden
Pierre de Coubertin (modern pentathlon) Gösta Lilliehöök
King of Italy (show jumping team) Sweden
Contessa Casa de Miranda (women’s platform) Greta Johansson
Russian Emperor (decathlon) Jim Thorpe
German Emperor (show jumping team) Sweden
Austrian Emperor (dressage individual) Carl Bonde
City of Budapest (sabre team) Hungary
Géza Andressy (show jumping individual) Jean Cariou
Donor (Event) 1920
Mme. de Montgomery (discus throw) Elmer Niklander
Gold & Silversmiths (heavyweight wrestling) Adolf Lindfors
The Football Association (football) Belgium
Brunetta d’Usseaux (coxed eights rowing) United States
Brunetta d’Usseaux (1500 swimming) Norman Ross
Lord Westbury (clay trap shooting) Mark Arie
King of Sweden (pentathlon) Eero Lehtonen
Swedish Calvary (overall equestrian) Sweden
Pierre de Coubertin (modern pentathlon) Gustaf Dyrssen
King of Italy (show jumping team) Sweden
Contessa Casa de Miranda (women’s platform) Stefanie Clausen

 

New Year’s Olympic Ski Jumping

The first major sports event in any year is the New Year’s Ski Jumping competition at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, part of the prestigious annual Four Hills Tournament. It’s Olympic connections go back all the way to 1922.

Birger Ruud jumps to Olympic gold in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Earlier that year he had also won the New Year’s competition.

On January 1st, 1922, the first New Year’s Ski Jumping competition was held in Garmisch – this was a separate town until it was forcibly merged with Partenkirchen for the 1936 Winter Olympics. It was part of a national German Olympic Games (Deutsche Winterkampfspiele), as Germany was not permitted to take part in the Olympic Games due to its role in World War I. Only at the 1928 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz would Germany appear again at the Olympic stage. The jumping hill built for this occasion was used for a competition on January 1st, which was to become an annual tradition. When Garmisch-Partenkirchen was awarded the Winter Olympics of 1936, a new jumping hill was built, which was inaugurated in February 1934, and has been used for the New Year’s event since. It has been renovated several times, in 1950, 1978 and 2007, and is still used in competition today. The event became part of the Four Hills Tournament in 1953, the first edition of that tournament, and has been ever since. The other competitions are held in Oberstdorf (Germany), Innsbruck and Bischofshofen (Austria). Garmisch-Partenkirchen joined Munich in a bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics, but the IOC elected South Korean Pyeongchang instead.

Jens Weißflog won 4 times at Garmisch, and also earned 3 Olympic golds, two of them in Lillehammer 1994 (shown here).

Among the winners of the New Year’s Ski Jump have – naturally – been a lot of Olympians. In fact, all winners since Paavo Lukkariniemi in 1966 have competed at the Olympics. The person with the most wins is Germany’s Martin Neuner with five (1924-1928), and in his only Olympic appearance (1928), he placed 9th. Two Germans have won four times on January 1st: Sepp Weiler, who only attended the 1952 Olympics as he was blocked from competing in 1948 and Jens Weißflog. Weißflog won at Garmisch in 1984-85, in 1990 and, jointly, in 1992. In 1984 he also won a gold medal, adding two more in 1994.

Winners in Garmisch didn’t always do well at the Olympics – e.g. three-time winner Bjørn Wirkola (1967-69), but since the mid-80s, all but a handful of winners have won at least one Olympic medal. On 9 occasions did the winner of the New Year’s Jump also win Olympic gold, although the last two times (2002 and 2010) this was in the team competition rather than an individual event.

Year Ski jumper Country
1936 Birger Ruud Norway
1964 Veikko Kankkonen Finland
1972 Yukio Kasaya Japan
1984 Jens Weißflog East Germany
1988 Matti Nykänen Finland
1994 Espen Bredesen Norway
1998 Kazuyoshi Funaki Japan
2002 Sven Hannawald Germany
2010 Gregor Schlierenzauer Austria

The 2014 podium, with Austrian winner Thomas Diethart.

The winner of the 1962 competition was Georg Thoma of Germany. Two years earlier, he had won a gold medal, but not in ski jumping, but in the Nordic combined (which combines ski jumping with cross country skiing), becoming the first non-Scandinavian to win that title.

Santa Claus and the Olympics

So tomorrow nite Santa Claus will be delivering presents throughout the world to all the good little girls and boys. Santa has never competed at the Olympics, one major reason being that he lives at the North Pole, which is not affiliated with any known National Olympic Committee. It is unknown if he has ever attempted to become affiliated with Greenland, which claims the North Pole, and whose athletes have competed for Denmark. Further, another reason Santa has not competed at the Olympics is that he is, to be politically correct here, somewhat adipose-challenged.

However, in searching our database, we did find the following Olympians who may be related to Santa Claus, although we have not yet finished the search for these relations. Attempts to reach Santa and discuss this were unsuccessful, as his administrative assistant told us, “He’ll get back to you after the New Year. This is really his busy time of year.”

Christian Claus sailed for Austria at the 1988 Olympics, finishing fourth in the Tornado, alongside Norbert Petschel. That same year Yves Clausse, a Luxembourgeois swimmer, also competed at the Olympics, as he did again in 1992. Clausse swam the 50, 100, and 200 freestyle, with a best finish of 28th in the 1988 50 metre freestyle. It is not known if he changed his name from Claus, possibly because of a falling out with Santa over not receiving the presents he wanted.

Hildrun Claus was a long jumper for East Germany who competed at the 1964 Olympics, although under her married name of Laufer-Claus, having married Peter Laufer. If related to Santa, it is unknown if he approved of this marriage.

Another East German athlete was Kerstin Claus, a high hurdler at the 1980 Olympics, but she competed again in 1988 as Kerstin Knabe.

But of all Santa Claus’s potential Olympic relatives, surely one must be the 2012 Dutch decathlete Eelco Sintnicolaas.

Let’s not also forget that in 1992 a Swedish horse named Lille Claus competed in equestrian. Perhaps she had some reindeer ancestors.

Two Santas have competed at the Olympics – Santa Margarita Skeet played basketball for Cuba at the 1980 Olympics, the team placing sixth, and Santa Inés Melchor competed in athletics for Peru in both 2004 at Athina and 2012 in London, running the 5,000 metres in 2004, and finishing 25th in the marathon in 2012.

And again, from the reindeer line, Santa Bell was a Dutch horse at the 1936 Olympics, and the horse Santa Fe competed in equestrian for Argentina in both 1948 and 1952.

So what about those reindeer – any of them compete in the Olympics that we know of? Well, we’re not too sure of that, with no reindeer events, but it appears that Santa named his reindeer after a group of Olympians. It is also possible that the trainer of his reindeer is the 2012 Dutch beach volleyball player Reinder Nummerdor.

Six time Olympic fencing champion Rudolf Kárpáti was a soldier in the Hungarian Army during Hungary’s communist era so perhaps he is the “Rudolf the Red” to lead the team.

Australian hockey player Barry Dancer and Helmuth Donner, the Austrian high jumper are easy picks and maybe you could just get away with choosing Uruguayan basketball star Carlos Blixen to the reindeer roster – but then you have to get a little more creative.

Usain Bolt seems a good choice for Dasher,, or you may prefer the Swiss ski jumping brothers Hans and Andreas Däscher. Valegro, the horse that in partnership with Charlotte Dujardin won dressage gold in 2012, might make a good Prancer and it’s fortunate that the nickname of cross-country skier Gunnar Samuelsson (1960) happened to be Comet.

Since a Vixen is a female fox then Jess Fox, the canoe slalom medallist from 2012, can be recruited with little difficulty which just leaves us with one position to fill.

Cupid was difficult, very difficult, but if you know your mythology you know that Cupid was the Roman counterpart to the Greek God Eros. This gives us a tenuous excuse to pick Italian cyclist Eros Poli to complete our team.

So there you have it – we’ll keep searching and if we confirm relationships to Santa Claus, or his reindeer, we’ll let you know. (With thanx to Hilary Evans, Jeroen Heijmans, Ralf Regnitter, and all the OlyMADMen)

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Festivus, and Happy Holidays to all – and to all a good night.

Bidding for Summer and Winter Olympic Games

And so it has come to this – Almaty, Kazakhstan and Beijing, China are the two remaining candidate cities to host the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. Almaty was formerly known as Alma-Ata when Kazakhstan was a Soviet Republic, and was known as Verniy in the years before the Bolshevik Revolution.

Beijing is an interesting choice for a number of reasons. First of all, Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics. No city has ever hosted both the Summer and Winter Olympics and many people think it would not be feasible to do so. However, if you have been to Beijing, and traveled to the Great Wall, you know that high mountains and very cold weather are only 50-70 km outside of the city. If you want to see steep mountains, try hiking up some sections of the Great Wall sometime.

Since it seems so unusual, has any city ever bid to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics prior to Beijing? In fact, it has happened and far more frequently than you would imagine.

We must discuss one aberration which are the 1956 Equestrian Games. The 1956 Olympics were held in Melbourne, Australia, which had strict animal quarantine laws and required the 1956 equestrian events to be moved to another country and city, which turned out to be Stockholm, Sweden. But there was a bid for that hosting responsibility, and Berlin, Los Angeles, Paris, and Rio de Janeiro also bid for the 1956 equestrian games.

So now we have three different types of possible Games bids – Summer, Winter, and Equestrian. One city, Stockholm, has sorta bid for all versions of the Olympics. It hosted the Summer Olympics in 1912, the Equestrian Olympics in 1956, bid for the Summer Games in 1952 and 2004, and put in a preliminary bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics, but withdrew that in January 2014 because of lack of governmental support.

Four cities also bid for the Summer and Equestrian Olympics – Berlin, Los Angeles, Paris, and Rio de Janeiro – all the losing bid cities for the 1956 Equestrian Games.

However, most importantly, 6 cities have bid for both the Summer and Winter Olympics, of which Beijing is only the most recent. Here is the full list of cities that have bid for both versions of the Olympics:

City NOC Ssn Yr1 Yr2 Yr3 Yr4 Yr5
Beijing CHN S 2000 2008
W 2022
Helsinki FIN S 1936 1940 1944 1952
W 2006
Minneapolis USA S 1948 1952 1956
W 1932
Montréal CAN S 1940 1944 1956 1972 1976
W 1932 1936 1944 1956
München FRG S 1972
W 2018
Torino ITA S 1908
W 2006

No city has ever won the bid to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics, but all but one of the above cities have hosted one Olympics – Summer by Beijing in 2008, Helsinki in 1952, Montréal in 1976, München in 1972; and Winter by Torino in 2006. The lone exception is Minneapolis, Minnesota, which bid for three Summer Olympics and one Winter Olympics, but has yet to see Olympic Rings in their city.

Can Beijing do it? With only two cities, they should have at least a 50% chance, and their ratings by the IOC Evaluation Commission were far higher than those for Almaty. (Oslo, Norway, which recently turned the chance to bid, had the highest ratings of all.) The bid will be announced on 31 July 2015 at the IOC Session in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Stay tuned.

US Cities Bidding for the Olympics

Tomorrow, 16 December, four US cities will make presentations to the US Olympic Committee, who will then select one city as the US choice to be candidate city to host the 2024 Olympic Games. The four US cities bidding are Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.

Los Angeles is well known in the Olympic world. If selected, this would be Los Angeles’s 10th bid to host the Olympic Games – after 1924, 1928, 1932, 1948, 1952, 1956, 1976, 1980, and 1984. Los Angeles won the bid in 1932 and 1984, acting as the host city. In addition, Los Angeles also bid one other time – in 1956 for the Equestrian Games. The 1956 Olympics were in Melbourne, Australia and restrictive animal quarantine laws forced the equestrian events to be moved to another city and nation, which turned out to be Stockholm, Sweden.

Los Angeles has thus bid 9 times previously for the Summer Olympics, which is an all-time record. Rome, Italy has bid 8 times, winning in 1908 (when it turned down the Games eventually) and 1960. Rome recently announced plans to bid for 2024. Tied for third for most Summer Olympic bids is Athens, which bid 7 times, and has hosted the 1896 and 2004 Olympics, and the 1906 Intercalated Games.

The city tied with Athens is a US one, and nobody would ever guess that Detroit, Michigan has bid for 7 Summer Olympics. Detroit holds the sad distinction (and an expensive one) of making the most Olympic bids without ever winning one.

San Francisco has bid for the Olympics before, back in 1956. There were 10 candidate cities that year, including 6 American ones, and San Francisco was eliminated after the first round vote, having received 0 votes.

Boston and Washington, DC have never bid before for the Olympics, so this will be a first for them.

Why is it necessary for the USOC to pick only one city – couldn’t all four US cities submit bids to the International Olympic Committee? That used to be the case, but since the 1970s the USOC and the IOC have only allowed one city from any nation to bid. The saves the nation money, and also gives the cities more chance to win, as multiple US cities would only split the votes.

But back when it was allowed, US cities liked to bid for the Olympics, led by the aforementioned 1956 bid with 6 US cities involved – Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. In 1948 and 1952 there were also multiple US cities bidding, with 4 in 1948 (Baltimore, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Philadelphia) and 5 in 1952 (Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Philadelphia).

At the Winter Olympics, there have also been several times when multiple US cities have bid, most notably in 1932 when 6 US cities bid – Lake Placid, Bear Mountain, New York; Duluth, Minnesota; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Denver, and Yosemite Valley, California. In 1956 Colorado Springs and Lake Placid also made bids.

Here are all the American cities that have bid for the Summer Olympics and the years they bid, also listing the number of times they have won:

City Wins Yr1 Yr2 Yr3 Yr4 Yr5 Yr6 Yr7 Yr8 Yr9
Atlanta 1 1920 1996
Baltimore 0 1948
Chicago 0 1904 1952 1956 2016
Cleveland 0 1916 1920
Detroit 0 1944 1952 1956 1960 1964 1968 1972
Los Angeles 2 1924 1928 1932 1948 1952 1956 1976 1980 1984
Minneapolis 0 1948 1952 1956
New York 0 2012
Philadelphia 0 1920 1948 1952 1956
San Francisco 0 1956
St.Louis 1 1904

So here we go. One US city will be chosen tomorrow. Many people feel that Los Angeles would have the best chance to win the bid. But if the writer of this blog is allowed to pick favorites … Go Boston!

Olympics Held in More Than One Nation

The IOC, meeting the last few days in Monte Carlo, is discussing whether or not the 2018 Winter Olympic host city Pyeongchang, should move the sliding events (bobsled, luge, skeleton) to another city, with Nagano in Japan, host of the 1998 Winter Olympics, being mentioned as a possibility, although the IOC noted it could be held at as many as 12 sliding centers worldwide.

Has this ever happened before at the Winter Olympics? Well, no Winter Olympic event has ever been held in a nation other than the nation of the host city, but a similar problem arose in 1960 with the Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, California. The Squaw Valley organizers refused to build a bob run that year, citing the costs and the fact that only nine European countries were pledging to compete in the sport that year. Remember that in 1960, getting from Europe to Squaw Valley, near Reno, Nevada, was not easy, especially while transporting bobsleds.

The FIBT (Fédération Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing) countered by holding World Championships in 1960 bobsledding in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. The FIBT had never before held World Championships in a Winter Olympic year, and would not start doing it again until 1992.

But there have been other times that Olympic events have been held in different nations. The best known example is 1956 when the equestrian events were held in Stockholm, Sweden, instead of Melbourne, Australia. In that era, Australia had strict quarantine laws for animal entering the country, and the horses would have had to arrive in Australia and be quarantined for six months before being allowed to train and compete, obviously an untenable situation.

In 1920, when the Olympics were in Antwerp, Belgium, the 12-foot dinghy yachting event (now sailing) was held in Oostende, Belgium on 7-8 July. On the second day there was a problem with the course related to one of the buoys, when it shifted position, so the race was declared void. Both of the entered yachts were from the Netherlands, so it was elected to finish the final two races in the Netherlands, on the Buiten-IJ, a water near Amsterdam, on 3 September.

In 1908 yachting, one could also argue that the events were held in different countries, although not different NOCs. The 1908 Olympics were in London, England, and most of the yachting events were held off the coast of the Isle of Wight, an island off the south of England, in the English Channel. However, the 12-metre class was sailed in Glasgow, Scotland, technically a different country to some International Federations, but not to the IOC.

Sailing, or the earlier term yachting, has often been held far from the host city. In 2008, the sailing events were held at Qingdao, on the coast of China, and 718 km (446 miles) from Beijing. In 1996, the sailing competition was held at Wassaw Bay in Savannah, 248 miles (400 km) from Atlanta. In 1972, the yachting events were held in Kiel, in the very northern part of Germany, very near to Denmark, which was 871 km (541 miles) from München.

Football also spreads its games around quite a bit now, although they have always been held in the same nation as the host city, with one possible exception. In 1984, when the Games were in Los Angeles, some preliminary football matches were contested at Harvard Stadium, in Allston, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston, which is 2,611 miles (4,205 km) from Los Angeles. In 1996, with the Games in Atlanta, some preliminary football matches took place in Washington, DC.

In 2012, one could again argue that some football matches took place in different countries, as some preliminaries took place in Glasgow, Scotland and Cardiff, Wales. Per FIFA, England, Scotland, and Wales are considered separate nations, or perhaps better termed geo-political entities (GPE), but the IOC only recognizes Great Britain.

In 2008, in addition to sailing at Qingdao, equestrian events were held at Hong Kong, China, which is fully 1,977 km (1,228 miles) from Beijing. Although Hong Kong was part of China in 2008, they were separate NOCs.

And there have been attempts to host the Winter Olympics in contiguous nations, with Östersund, Sweden having considered hosting the Alpine skiing events in Norway. For the 2006 Winter Olympics, Klagenfurt, Austria made a co-bid with Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, and Jesnice, Slovenia, but the bid was not advanced to the final stage of voting. In early bidding for 2006, Helsinki, Finland was going to hold the Alpine skiing events in Lillehammer, Norway; and for the 2022 Olympics, an early candidate was a combined bid from Krakow, Poland and Jasna, Slovakia. And going way back, Lahti, Finland, bidding for the 1964, 1968, and 1972 Winter Olympics, and Tampere, Finland, bidding for the 1976 Winter Olympics, both planned to hold the Alpine skiing events in Åre, Sweden.

So if the 2018 bobsledding events are moved from Pyeongchang, it will not be without precedent at the Olympics.

Longest Lived Swimming Olympic Records

A few months ago we looked at what are the longest lived Olympic records in track & field athletics. As we noted at the time, Olympic records can only be set in certain sports. At the Summer Games, this includes athletics (track & field), swimming, shooting, weightlifting, archery, and Olympic bests are usually considered now in rowing and canoeing. At the Winter Games, the measured sports are speed skating and short-track speed skating, with the best jumps measured in ski jumping.

Let’s look at swimming today and see what the longest-lived Olympic records are in this sport. And we have to make some assumptions, as we commonly do. We’re going to consider marks that have lasted the most Olympics, because the gap from 1936-48 and 1912-20 artificially made records last longer that were set in 1912 or 1932-36. So we’ll consider Olympics Between (OlyBT below) and Years Between (YrsGap below). Also, some marks were set a number of Olympics ago but are still the best on record. We’ll consider all of those to last until 2016 (at a minimum, that is true).

Given that, here are all the swimming Olympic records that have lasted 12+ years or 3 or more Olympics. Note that swim records turn over relatively quickly, and do not last as long as the track & field records, in general. The men’s list is first.

Event Mark Athlete/Team NOC Year OlyBT YrGap
50 m free 21.91 Aleksandr Popov EUN 1992 4 16
1500 m free 19:12.4 Kuzuo Kitamura JPN 1932 3 20
100 m free 48.63 Matt Biondi USA 1988 3 12
400 m free 3:40.59 Ian Thorpe AUS 2000 3 12
1500 m free 14:58.27 Vladimir Salnikov URS 1980 3 12
1500 m free 14:43.48 Kieren Perkins AUS 1992 3 12
200 m breast 2:10.16 Mike Barrowman USA 1992 3 12
100 m fly 54.27 Mark Spitz USA 1972 3 12
200 m IM 2:07.17 Gunnar Larsson SWE 1972 3 12
4×100 m free relay 3:26.42 United States USA 1972 3 12
100 m back 1:05.9 Adolph Kiefer USA 1936 2 16

Now for the women’s list, again for all records lasting 12+ years or 3 or more Olympics.

Event Mark Athlete/Team NOC Year OlyBT YrGap
200 m free 1:57.65 Heike Friedrich GDR 1988 5 20
400 m free 4:03.85 Janet Evans USA 1988 5 20
400 m IM 4:36.29 Petra Schneider GDR 1980 5 20
200 m back 2:07.06 Krisztina Egerszegi HUN 1992 4 16
200 m fly 2:06.90 Mary T. Meagher USA 1984 4 16
100 m free 54.79 Barbara Krause GDR 1980 3 12
800 m free 8:20.20 Janet Evans USA 1988 3 12
100 m back 1:00.86 Rica Reinisch GDR 1980 3 12
100 m fly 56.61 Inge de Bruijn NED 2000 3 12
200 m IM 2:23.07 Shane Gould AUS 1972 3 12
100 m free 1:05.9 Rie Mastenbroek NED 1936 1 12
400 m free 5:26.4 Rie Mastenbroek NED 1936 1 12
100 m back 1:16.6 Nida Senff NED 1936 1 12
200 m breast 3:01.9 Hideko Maehata JPN 1936 1 12
4×100 m free relay 4:36.0 The Netherlands NED 1936 1 12

And now we’ll go event-by-event, looking at the longest-lived Olympic swimming records in each event – men followed by the women.

Event Mark Athlete/Team NOC Year OlyBT YrsBT
50 m free 21.91 Aleksandr Popov EUN 1992 4 16
100 m free 48.63 Matt Biondi USA 1988 3 12
100 m free 57.5 Masanori Yusa JPN 1936 1 12
200 m free 1:46.70 Yevgeny Sadovy EUN 1992 2 8
200 m free 1:42.96 Michael Phelps USA 2008 2 8
400 m free 3:40.59 Ian Thorpe AUS 2000 3 12
400 m free 5:24.4 George Hodgson CAN 1912 2 12
400 m free 4:44.5 Jack Medica USA 1936 1 12
1500 m free 19:12.4 Kuzuo Kitamura JPN 1932 3 20
1500 m free 14:58.27 Vladimir Salnikov URS 1980 3 12
1500 m free 14:43.48 Kieren Perkins AUS 1992 3 12
1500 m free 22:00.0 George Hodgson CAN 1912 2 12
100 m back 1:05.9 Adolph Kiefer USA 1936 2 16
100 m back 1:08.2 George Kojac USA 1928 2 8
100 m back 55.49 John Naber USA 1976 2 8
100 m back 53.86 Jeff Rouse USA 1992 2 8
200 m back 1:59.19 John Naber USA 1976 2 8
200 m back 1:58.99 Rick Carey USA 1984 2 8
200 m back 1:58.47 Martín López-Zubero ESP 1992 2 8
100 m breast 1:03.11 John Hencken USA 1976 2 8
100 m breast 1:01.65 Steve Lundquist USA 1984 2 8
200 m breast 2:10.16 Mike Barrowman USA 1992 3 12
200 m breast 3:01.8 Walter Bathe GER 1912 2 12
200 m breast 2:41.5 Tetsuo Hamuro JPN 1936 1 12
100 m fly 54.27 Mark Spitz USA 1972 3 12
200 m fly 2:06.6 Kevin Berry AUS 1964 2 8
200 m fly 1:59.23 Mike Bruner USA 1976 2 8
200 m fly 1:56.26 Melvin Stewart USA 1992 2 8
200 m fly 1:52.03 Michael Phelps USA 2008 2 8
200 m IM 2:07.17 Gunnar Larsson SWE 1972 3 12
400 m IM 4:45.4 Dick Roth USA 1964 2 8
400 m IM 4:14.23 Tamás Darnyi HUN 1992 2 8
400 m IM 4:03.84 Michael Phelps USA 2008 2 8
4×100 m free relay 3:26.42 United States USA 1972 3 12
4×200 m free relay 7:52.1 United States USA 1964 2 8
4×200 m free relay 7:23.22 United States USA 1976 2 8
4×200 m free relay 7:11.95 Unified Team EUN 1992 2 8
4×200 m free relay 7:07.05 Australia AUS 2000 2 8
4×200 m free relay 6:58.56 United States USA 2008 2 8
4×200 m free relay 8:51.5 Japan JPN 1936 1 12
4×100 m medley relay 3:42.22 United States USA 1976 2 8
4×100 m medley relay 3:29.34 United States USA 2008 2 8
Event Mark Athlete/Team NOC Year OlyBT YrGap
50 m free 24.79 Yang Wenyi CHN 1992 2 8
50 m free 24.13 Inge de Bruijn NED 2000 2 8
100 m free 54.79 Barbara Krause GDR 1980 3 12
100 m free 1:05.9 Rie Mastenbroek NED 1936 1 12
200 m free 1:57.65 Heike Friedrich GDR 1988 5 20
400 m free 4:03.85 Janet Evans USA 1988 5 20
400 m free 5:26.4 Rie Mastenbroek NED 1936 1 12
800 m free 8:20.20 Janet Evans USA 1988 3 12
100 m back 1:00.86 Rica Reinisch GDR 1980 3 12
100 m back 1:16.6 Nida Senff NED 1936 1 12
200 m back 2:07.06 Krisztina Egerszegi HUN 1992 4 16
100 m breast 1:07.95 Tanya Bogomilova-Dangalakova BUL 1988 2 8
100 m breast 1:07.02 Penny Heyns RSA 1996 2 8
100 m breast 1:05.17 Leisel Jones AUS 2008 2 8
200 m breast 2:29.54 Lina Kačiušytė URS 1980 2 8
200 m breast 3:01.9 Hideko Maehata JPN 1936 1 12
100 m fly 56.61 Inge de Bruijn NED 2000 3 12
200 m fly 2:06.90 Mary T. Meagher USA 1984 4 16
200 m IM 2:23.07 Shane Gould AUS 1972 3 12
400 m IM 4:36.29 Petra Schneider GDR 1980 5 20
4×100 m free relay 3:42.71 German Democratic Republic GDR 1980 2 8
4×100 m free relay 4:36.0 The Netherlands NED 1936 1 12
4×200 m free relay 7:59.87 United States USA 1996 1 4
4×200 m free relay 7:57.80 United States USA 2000 1 4
4×200 m free relay 7:53.42 United States USA 2004 1 4
4×200 m free relay 7:44.31 Australia AUS 2008 1 4
4×200 m free relay 7:42.92 United States USA 2012 1 4
4×100 m medley relay 4:06.67 German Democratic Republic GDR 1980 2 8
4×100 m medley relay 4:02.54 United States USA 1992 2 8