Triplets and Twins at the Olympics

Three Estonian marathoners – Leila, Liina, and Lily Luik – have recently made the Olympic qualifying time for Rio and may compete at Rio. This is especially notable because the three Luik sisters are triplets. No triplets have ever competed at the Olympic Games previously, either at the same Games or at separate Olympics.

But that is not the case with twins. In fact, our database includes 200 twins that have both competed at the Olympics. Of these, 188 of them have competed at the same Olympics, so they almost always competed together. Here is the breakdown of those 188:

Twin type ###
Twin brother 127
Twin sister 53
Twin brother/sister (fraternal) 4
Twin brother (fraternal) 2
Twin sister (fraternal) 2

Please note that we try to differentiate between fraternal and identical twins in the database, but that information is not always announced or available, so the fraternal numbers above may be somewhat low. Without further information, our default listing is as identical twins, unless they are brother/sister, who must be fraternal twins.

Many of these twins have competed at the same Olympic Games several times. Here is how that breaks down:

#Games #Twins
4 Games 4
3 Games 9
2 Games 43
1 Games 132

Among the 4 Games twins are one set of twin sisters – Sharon and Shirley Firth, who competed in cross-country skiing for Canada at the 1972, 1976, 1980, and 1984 Winter Olympics. Also competing together at 4 Games are the twin brother canoeists, Pavol and Peter Hochschorner of Slovakia, who won the Canadian slalom doubles in 2000, 2004, and 2008, and added a bronze in that event in 2012. They will likely compete in Rio which will make them the first twins to compete together at 5 Olympic Games.

Basically, all of the twins have always competed in the same sport. However, Swedish twin brothers Vilhelm and Eric Carlberg are a slight anomaly. Vilhelm competed in shooting in 1906, 1908, 1912, and 1924. Eric competed in shooting at all 4 Olympics, but in 1908 he also competed in fencing, and in 1912 he competed in shooting, fencing, and modern pentathlon.

The twins have also always represented the same nation. Until recently we thought that the presumed twin brothers Steve Tikal and František Tikal played against each other in ice hockey at the 1960 Winter Olympics, with Steve competing for Australia and František competing for their native Czechoslovakia, however, more recent evidence reveals that they were not twins, as often cited.

No single sport predominates among these sets of twins, with 36 different sports represented. The top 6 sports, however, are the following:

Sport ###
Athletics 34
Rowing 22
Sailing 16
Wrestling 12
Ice Hockey 11
Swimming 10

The Luiks competing as triplets will be an Olympic first, assuming they all compete. None has approached world-class times so they will not be medal contenders, but you could be seeing Olympic history.

Mother and Son Shooters to Compete in Rio

The Georgian Olympic Committee announced recently that Nino Salukvadze would compete in shooting at the 2016 Rio Olympics (http://agenda.ge/news/53091/eng). No surprise there, as Ms. Salukvadze is one of the great female shooters of the last 30 years. A pistol shooter, this will be her 8th Olympic Games. She first competed in 1988 for the Soviet Union, and has since competed for the Unified Team in 1992, and since 1996, for Georgia. Salukvadze has won 3 Olympic medals, including a gold medal in the 1988 sport pistol.

So what’s noteworthy here? When she competes in her 8th Olympics, that will make Ms. Salukvadze only the second woman to compete in 8 Olympic Games, after German-Italian canoeist Josefa Idem-Guerrini. But far more significant is that the news release listed above also noted that Salukvadze will be competing alongside her son, Tsotne Machavariani, who has made his first Olympic team.

Salukkvadze and Machavariani will be a mother/son combo competing at the same Olympic Games and that has never before happened in Olympic history. Our database reveals 70 cases of parent/child competing at the same Olympic Games, but never a mother/son.

The most common combination is father/son, which has occurred 56 times. Father/daughters have competed at the same Olympics 12 times. And there are 2 cases of mothers/daughters competing at the same Olympics, but no mother/son prior to 2016.

The 2 mother/daughters were Mary Abbott and her daughter, Margaret Abbott, in 1900 golf; and Jessie Wadworth and her daughter, Brenda Wadworth, in 1908 archery. Those are the only 2 examples of a mother competing with their child at the same Olympic Games.

There are 2 examples of father/sons doing this 3 separate times. The first was the Swedish shooters, Oscar Swahn and his son, Alfred, who competed together at the 1912, 1920, and 1924 Olympics. In 1984-88-92, the Fijian sailors, Colin Philp, Sr., and his son, Tony competed together. Colin also competed alongside his 2 other sons, Colin, Jr., in 1988, and David, in 1992.

Of the father/daughters, Paul Elvstrøm and his daughter, Trine Elvstrøm-Myralf, uniquely did this twice, in 1984 and 1988. Four father/sons competed together at 2 Olympics. Of these, most notable is the father, Carlos de Cárdenas Culmell, a Cuban sailor, who did it with 2 different sons. In 1948-52 he competed with Carlos de Cárdenas Plá, while in 1952-56, he sailed alongside Jorge de Cárdenas.

So when Salukvadze and Machavariani compete in Rio, it will mark a first in Olympic history.

The Olympic Champions Who Never Existed

http://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/ lists ever Olympic gold medal winner that has ever lived so you might be surprised to know that this post concerns Olympic champions that have never graced the pages of that website. These are the champions who have only existed within the covers of a book, the frames of a cartoon or whilst projected on the silver screen or into your homes via television. For decades writers have used the Olympic Games as a backdrop to stories of sporting triumph or, in some cases, used a supposed Olympic background to emphasize the heroic and villainous traits of a character.
Let’s start with the movies. I have deliberated avoided films which are based on real Olympic history, even those whose grasp on history is at best fairly tenuous.

If you consider the headlines of the last few weeks it’s with a certain sense of irony we begin with the character of Ivan Drago from the 4th instalment of the Rocky series of movies. The chemically assisted Soviet boxer, probably designed as a champion from the Moscow Olympics, may be a caricature of Communist era Russia but has remained a popular villain in the thirty years since the film was released. The script also makes it clear that Drago’s wife, Ludmilla, is herself an Olympic champion in the swimming pool. Incidentally the actor, who played Drago, Dolph Lundgren, had a genuine Olympic link – he was the section manager for the US modern pentathlon team in Atlanta in 1996.
Ivan Drago-Rocky-villain
Ivan Drago

The Rocky series may be nearly forty years old now but that’s nothing compared to the longevity of James Bond. In the 2002 film “Die Another Day” we are introduced to MI6 agent Miranda Frost, an Olympic champion from the Sydney Olympics, who is eventually revealed to be in the debt of the North Korean villain of the piece after he arranged that her opponent for gold “overdosed on steroids”. An earlier film in the series, “For Your Eyes Only”, featured an East German Olympic biathlete turned assassin.
Shooting seems a popular Olympic sport in cinematic terms with the Oscar nominated 2014 film “American Sniper” featuring, as a main antagonist, a Syrian Olympic champion marksman called Mustafa and, as strange as it seems, another fictional champion shooter threatened to cause a diplomatic incident for a time in 2005. The Bollywood film “Sarkar” features an Olympic medallist from Dubai who is hired as a contract killer. Unfortunately for the filmmakers the UAE’s only Olympic medal at the time had come from Sheikh Ahmed al-Maktoum, a member of Dubai’s ruling family, in trap shooting. An apology was sent to Sheikh Ahmed and the controversial scenes were edited.

1937 saw the release of “Charlie Chan at the Olympics”, which blended real footage from the Berlin Games into a murder mystery. After the eponymous hero solves the crime he finds time to watch his son win an Olympic swimming title.

Even the ancient Olympic Games has been referenced on celluloid in cartoon form through the shape of “Asterix at the Olympic Games” where the eponymous Gaulish hero wins an Olympic title when every one of his opponents succumb to the temptation of magic potion and is disqualified.
MPW-55434

One of the best movies to be based around the subject was “Downhill Racer”, a 1969 vehicle for the then box-office sensation Robert Redford, which centred on a brash American making his way on the European skiing circuit and towards an Olympic title. The acclaimed critic Roger Ebert said at the time it was “the best movie ever made about sports—without really being about sports at all.”
The following year film producer and self-confessed Olympic fan Richard F. Zanuck produced “The Games”, a movie based on four runners of vastly differing backgrounds who competed for glory in the marathon at a fictional Rome Olympics. Filmmakers have long seen athletics as a rich seam to mine for Olympic movies as was seen in the 1955 film Geordie, about a Scottish Hammer thrower and Golden Girl from 1979 which centred on the premise of a neo-Nazi scientist adopting an American orphan with the single purpose of turning her into an Olympic pentathlon champion.

Other sports that have flourished on the silver screen include figure skating in the guise of romantic comedy “The Cutting Edge”. The story of a spoilt American skater teaming up with a former ice hockey player on and off the ice was successful enough to spawn three sequels. The dubious acting talents of Dolph Lundgren once again feature in “Pentathlon”, probably the only thriller based around the Olympic modern pentathlon. Lundgen plays an East German champion whose comeback for the 1988 Olympic Games is threatened by his former coach turned neo-Nazi terrorist. It was badly received at the time and is generally considered the worst movie on this list. 1997’s “Murder at 1600”, with Diane Lane as a US Secret Service agent who was also an Olympic shooting champion, was another that was panned by the critics.

Moving our attention towards television, and also to the distant future, we can point out that 1960s kids TV puppet show Thunderbirds. The show, which was hugely popular in the UK and Australia, featured a character called Gordon Tracy who was / will be an Olympic swimming champion at the butterfly stroke around the year 2060. Much later US animated comedy series “Futurama” introduced the limbo into the 30th century incarnation of the Olympics and set one of the main characters, Jamaican bureaucrat Hermes Conrad, on a quest for the championship against his arch rival Barbados Slim.

In literature the classic children’s book “Matilda” by Roald Dahl featured the fearsome Miss Trunchbull who was described as an Olympic javelin, discus and hammer thrower from the 1972 Olympics. It is unknown if she was successful in her efforts in Munich. The introduction of a “throwing the girl by her pigtails” event might have ensured victory.
Another favourite of children was the runner Alf Tupper, the “Tough of the Track”, whose appearances in British comics lasted from 1949 to 1992. His longevity as a middle distance runner is marked by his wins at both the Helsinki and Barcelona Olympics.

The theatre has not provided much to add to this list with the exception of “Amigos”, a play by the award winning Australian playwright David Williamson. It concerns the relationships inside a medal winning rowing quartet thirty four years after they reach the podium at the 1968 Games.

Of course there may be more that we have missed, please feel free to remind us of any omissions.
Thanks to David Clark for suggesting this subject.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Olympic Athletics Appearances

So we did a recent post on Olympians who have made more than one appearance at the Olympics. One of the replies we got back was that it would be interesting to know more about this as it relates to the best known summer Olympic sport – athletics (track & field). So here we go.

Who has appeared in each event the most times? Seven athletes have competed in the same Olympic athletics event 6 times, with Merlene Ottey doing this in 3 events – the 100, 200, and 4×100 relay – for 9 occurrences in all. But we’ll go further and list who has appeared in each track & field event the most times below, requiring at least 4 appearances. The list for each event is as follows:

Kim Collins

### Event Name NOC Gdr YR1 YR2 YR3 YR4 YR5 YR6
4 100 metres Tom Robinson BAH M 1956 1960 1964 1968
4 Hasely Crawford TTO M 1972 1976 1980 1984
4 Ray Stewart JAM M 1984 1988 1992 1996
4 Ato Boldon TTO M 1992 1996 2000 2004
4 Kim Collins SKN M 1996 2000 2004 2008
5 200 metres Pietro Mennea ITA M 1972 1976 1980 1984 1988
4 Don Quarrie JAM M 1972 1976 1980 1984
4 Róbson da Silva BRA M 1984 1988 1992 1996
4 Christian Malcolm GBR M 2000 2004 2008 2012
4 400 metres Chris Brown BAH M 2000 2004 2008 2012
5 800 metres Paul Martin SUI M 1920 1924 1928 1932 1936
4 José Luiz Barbosa BRA M 1984 1988 1992 1996
4 Johnny Gray USA M 1984 1988 1992 1996
4 Yury Borzakovsky RUS M 2000 2004 2008 2012
5 1500 metres Branko Zorko YUG M 1988 1992 1996 2000 2004
4 Marcus O'Sullivan IRL M 1984 1988 1992 1996
4 5000 metres Emiel Puttemans BEL M 1968 1972 1976 1980
4 Craig Mottram AUS M 2000 2004 2008 2012
4 10000 metres Domingo Tibaduiza COL M 1972 1976 1980 1984
4 Haile Gebrselassie ETH M 1996 2000 2004 2008
5 Marathon Toni Bernadó AND M 1996 2000 2004 2008 2012
4 8 tied with 4 M
5 110 metres hurdles Carlos Sala ESP M 1980 1984 1988 1992 1996
4 6 tied with 4 M
4 400 metres hurdles Luigi Facelli ITA M 1924 1928 1932 1936
4 Samuel Matete ZAM M 1988 1992 1996 2000
4 Félix Sánchez DOM M 2000 2004 2008 2012
4 Periklis Iakovakis GRE M 2000 2004 2008 2012
4 Angelo Taylor USA M 2000 2004 2008 2012
4 Steeplechase Cahit Önel TUR M 1948 1952 1960 1964
5 20 kilometres Walk Vladimir Golubnichy URS M 1960 1964 1968 1972 1976
5 Jeffersón Pérez ECU M 1992 1996 2000 2004 2008
4 4 x 100 metres relay Jocelyn Delecour FRA M 1956 1960 1964 1968
4 Nobuharu Asahara JPN M 1996 2000 2004 2008
4 Marc Burns TTO M 2000 2004 2008 2012
4 4 x 400 metres relay Chris Brown BAH M 2000 2004 2008 2012
6 50 kilometres Walk Jesús Ángel García ESP M 1992 1996 2000 2004 2008 2012
5 John Ljunggren SWE M 1948 1952 1956 1960 1964
5 Abdon Pamich ITA M 1956 1960 1964 1968 1972
5 Tim Berrett CAN M 1992 1996 2000 2004 2008
6 High Jump Dragutin Topić IOA M 1992 1996 2000 2004 2008 2012
4 Kuniyoshi Sugioka JPN M 1960 1964 1968 1972
4 Pole Vault Javier García ESP M 1988 1992 1996 2000
4 Tim Lobinger GER M 1996 2000 2004 2008
4 Romain Mesnil FRA M 2000 2004 2008 2012
4 Denys Yurchenko UKR M 2000 2004 2008 2012
5 Long Jump Igor Ter-Ovanesyan URS M 1956 1960 1964 1968 1972
4 Carl Lewis USA M 1984 1988 1992 1996
4 Iván Pedroso CUB M 1992 1996 2000 2004
4 Triple Jump 8 tied with 4 M
4 Shot Put 9 tied with 4 M
5 Discus Throw Aleksander Tammert EST M 1996 2000 2004 2008 2012
5 Virgilijus Alekna LTU M 1996 2000 2004 2008 2012
5 Hammer Throw Alexandros Papadimitriou GRE M 1996 2000 2004 2008 2012
5 Szymon Ziółkowski POL M 1996 2000 2004 2008 2012
5 Javelin Throw Janusz Sidło POL M 1952 1956 1960 1964 1968
5 Urs von Wartburg SUI M 1960 1964 1968 1972 1976
5 Jan Železný TCH M 1988 1992 1996 2000 2004
4 Decathlon Georg Werthner AUT M 1976 1980 1984 1988
4 Daley Thompson GBR M 1976 1980 1984 1988
4 Erki Nool EST M 1992 1996 2000 2004
4 Roman Šebrle CZE M 2000 2004 2008 2012
6 100 metres Merlene Ottey JAM F 1984 1988 1992 1996 2000 2004
5 Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie BAH F 1996 2000 2004 2008 2012
6 200 metres Merlene Ottey JAM F 1980 1984 1988 1992 1996 2004
5 Mary Onyali-Omagbemi NGR F 1988 1992 1996 2000 2004
4 400 metres Sandie Richards JAM F 1988 1992 1996 2000
4 Aliann Pompey GUY F 2000 2004 2008 2012
6 800 metres Maria Mutola MOZ F 1988 1992 1996 2000 2004 2008
5 Letitia Vriesde SUR F 1988 1992 1996 2000 2004
4 1500 metres Carla Sacramento POR F 1992 1996 2000 2004
4 Natalia Rodríguez ESP F 2000 2004 2008 2012
4 3000/5000 metres Roberta Brunet ITA F 1988 1992 1996 2000
4 Sonia O'Sullivan IRL F 1992 1996 2000 2004
4 10000 metres Derartu Tulu ETH F 1992 1996 2000 2004
5 Marathon Lidia Şimon ROU F 1996 2000 2004 2008 2012
4 Lisa Martin-Ondieki AUS F 1984 1988 1992 1996
4 Lorraine Moller NZL F 1984 1988 1992 1996
4 Erika Olivera CHI F 1996 2000 2004 2012
5 80/100 metres hurdles Gail Devers-Roberts USA F 1988 1992 1996 2000 2004
4 7 tied with 4 F
4 20 kilometres Walk María Vascó ESP F 2000 2004 2008 2012
4 Olive Loughnane IRL F 2000 2004 2008 2012
4 Kristina Saltanovič LTU F 2000 2004 2008 2012
6 4 x 100 metres relay Merlene Ottey JAM F 1980 1984 1988 1992 1996 2000
4 5 tied with 4 F
5 4 x 400 metres relay Sandie Richards JAM F 1988 1992 1996 2000 2004
4 Cathy Rattray-Williams JAM F 1980 1984 1988 1992
4 Irina Khlyustova BLR F 2000 2004 2008 2012
5 High Jump Amy Acuff USA F 1996 2000 2004 2008 2012
4 6 tied with 4 F
4 Pole Vault Monika Pyrek POL F 2000 2004 2008 2012
4 Svetlana Feofanova RUS F 2000 2004 2008 2012
4 Yelena Isinbayeva RUS F 2000 2004 2008 2012
5 Long Jump Willye White USA F 1956 1960 1964 1968 1972
5 Fiona May GBR F 1988 1992 1996 2000 2004
5 Jackie Edwards BAH F 1992 1996 2000 2004 2008
4 Triple Jump Yamilé Aldama CUB F 2000 2004 2008 2012
4 Tatyana Lebedeva RUS F 2000 2004 2008 2012
4 Shot Put 8 tied with 4 F
6 Discus Throw Lia Manoliu ROU F 1952 1956 1960 1964 1968 1972
6 Nicoleta Grădinaru-Grasu ROU F 1992 1996 2000 2004 2008 2012
5 Olga Fikotová-Connolly TCH F 1956 1960 1964 1968 1972
5 Ellina "Elya" Zvereva URS F 1988 1996 2000 2004 2008
5 Irina Yatchenko EUN F 1992 1996 2000 2004 2008
4 Hammer Throw Yipsi Moreno CUB F 2000 2004 2008 2012
6 Javelin Throw Tessa Sanderson GBR F 1976 1980 1984 1988 1992 1996
5 Trine Solberg-Hattestad NOR F 1984 1988 1992 1996 2000
5 Laverne Eve BAH F 1988 1996 2000 2004 2008
5 Heptathlon/Pentathlon Sabine Braun FRG F 1984 1988 1992 1996 2000
4 Jackie Joyner-Kersee USA F 1984 1988 1992 1996
4 Irina Naumenko KAZ F 2000 2004 2008 2012
4 Austra Skujytė LTU F 2000 2004 2008 2012

Merlene Ottey

Now looking at the event-by-event appearance records, we note that 6 athletes (5 women, 1 man) competed at least 3 times in 3 events. They are as follows, with the Jamaican wonder woman Merlene Ottey having competed 6 times in 3 different events:

Name Gdr NOC Event1 ###1 Event2 ###2 Event3 ###3
Merlene Ottey F JAM 100 6 200 6 4×100 6
Pauline Davis-Thompson F BAH 100 3 200 4 4×100 3
Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie F BAH 100 5 200 4 4×100 3
Diego Ordóñez M ESP 100 3 200 3 4×100 3
Mary Onyali-Omagbemi F NGR 100 3 200 5 4×100 3
Shirley Strickland de la Hunty F AUS 100 3 4×100 3 80HH 3

So who has competed in the most Olympic track & field athletics events? This gets a little complicated. Prior to 1928 there were a number of events no longer on the Olympic Program – standing jumps, odd walk distances, both hands throws, freestyle javelin, cross-country, various team races, and so on. In addition, we count the 1906 Olympic Games, which the IOC does not (they should). Here is the list of who has competed in the most athletics events, counting all events on the Program. The column on the left does not include 1906, while the second column in includes 1906, which brings in Martin Sheridan, who would be #3 if 1906 is included (I am required to mention Sheridan by my Chocolate Lab, Marty, whose full name is Martin Sheridan Mallon).

As you can see, and will see even further, Merlene Ottey and Eric Lemming are the queen and king of track & field appearances. Ottey leads this list, but Lemming would be #1 if we count 1906, at which Games he started in 8 events.

Events w1906 Name Gdr NOC
19 19 Merlene Ottey F JAM
14 22 Eric Lemming M SWE
12 12 Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie F BAH
12 12 Mary Onyali-Omagbemi F NGR
12 12 Elmer Niklander M FIN
12 12 Géo André M FRA
12 12 Paavo Nurmi M FIN
11 11 Pietro Mennea M ITA
11 11 Pauline Davis-Thompson F BAH
11 11 Irena Szewińska-Kirszenstein F POL
11 11 Lawson Robertson M USA
11 11 Verner Järvinen M FIN
11 11 Gustav Krojer M AUT
8 15 Martin Sheridan M USA

So the question that started this was how many Olympians compete in more than 1 Olympics? The blog reader wanted to know many track & field Olympians compete in more than 1 event? Here is that table, and here we do include 1906 and all events.

#Events ### %%%
22 Events 1 0.0%
19 Events 1 0.0%
15 Events 1 0.0%
12 Events 5 0.0%
11 Events 6 0.0%
10 Events 12 0.1%
9 Events 24 0.1%
8 Events 25 0.1%
7 Events 68 0.3%
6 Events 188 0.9%
5 Events 385 1.9%
4 Events 826 4.0%
3 Events 2030 9.8%
2 Events 5429 26.3%
1 Event 11623 56.4%

Its evident that most athletics Olympians compete in only a single event, and over 92% compete in 3 or fewer events.

Now Merlene Ottey competed in 19 events but she competed in a lot of relays, 7 in all. What happens if we only look at athletics Olympians competing in individual events? Again we have 2 columns, one not including 1906, and the second column including 1906, which adds Sheridan (sorry, its required), Ray Ewry, Meyer Prinstein, and Lawson Robertson. Note that Lemming’s figures do not change – he competed only in individual events.

Eric Lemming

IndEvts w1906 Name Gdr noc
14 22 Eric Lemming M SWE
12 12 Elmer Niklander M FIN
12 12 Merlene Ottey F SLO
11 11 Verner Järvinen M FIN
11 11 Géo André M FRA
9 9 Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie F BAH
9 9 Paavo Nurmi M FIN
9 9 Miklós Kovács M HUN
9 9 Irena Szewińska-Kirszenstein F POL
9 9 Platt Adams M USA
9 9 Ralph Rose M USA
8 15 Martin Sheridan M USA
8 10 Ray Ewry M USA
7 10 Meyer Prinstein M USA
6 11 Lawson Robertson M USA

And here is the breakdown of track & field Olympians by number of individual events in which they have competed – again including 1906 and all events.

#Evts ### %%%
22 Events 1 0.0%
15 Events 1 0.0%
12 Events 2 0.0%
11 Events 3 0.0%
10 Events 4 0.0%
9 Events 11 0.1%
8 Events 12 0.1%
7 Events 32 0.2%
6 Events 73 0.4%
5 Events 203 1.1%
4 Events 565 2.9%
3 Events 1568 8.1%
2 Events 4754 24.7
1 Event 12044 62.5%

As you can see, when looking only at individual events, by far most athletes compete in only a single Olympic track & field event.

So who has competed in the most track & field events at a single Olympics? Once again, we have the problem of the many older, unusual events, we have the problem of 1906, and we have the problem of individual or team events. Here is the list of the most events at a single Olympics, counting only modern events, and counting only individual events. And again Eric Lemming tops the list. This includes all those competing in 4 or more individual events at a single Olympics, and only 3 of them are women.

### Name Gdr NOC Year Evt1 Evt2 Evt3 Evt4 Evt5 Evt6
6 Eric Lemming M SWE 1900 HJ PV LJ TJ DT HT
5 Fritz Hofmann M GER 1896 100 400 HJ TJ SP
5 Oscar Guttormsen M NOR 1908 100 200 400 110HH TJ
5 Johannes Viljoen M RSA 1928 100 110HH LJ TJ Deca
4 Alphonse Grisel M FRA 1896 100 400 LJ DT
4 Henrik Sjöberg M SWE 1896 100 HJ LJ DT
4 Bob Garrett M USA 1896 HJ LJ SP DT
4 Meyer Prinstein M USA 1904 100 400 LJ TJ
4 Vincent Duncker M GER 1906 100 400 800 110HH
4 Aage Petersen M DEN 1906 100 400 HJ LJ
4 Karl Lampelmayer M AUT 1906 100 400 LJ TJ
4 Gustav Krojer M AUT 1906 100 HJ LJ TJ
4 Jacobus Hoogveld M NED 1908 100 200 400 LJ
4 Hugo Wieslander M SWE 1908 LJ SP DT JT
4 Henry Leeke M GBR 1908 SP DT HT JT
4 Bram Evers M NED 1908 400 800 PV LJ
4 Alfredo Pagani M ITA 1912 110HH HJ LJ Deca
4 Skotte Jacobsson M SWE 1912 100 200 TJ Deca
4 Paul Hammer M LUX 1924 100 200 400 LJ
4 Valter Ever M EST 1924 HJ PV LJ Deca
4 Gretel Bolliger F SUI 1952 80HH LJ SP DT
4 Eduardo Fontecilla M CHI 1956 800 1500 Mara Steeple
4 Marijana Lubej F YUG 1968 100 200 80HH Pent
4 Eugenia Osho-Williams F SLE 1980 100 200 400 800
3 227 tied with 3

Here is the list if we include all track & field events that have ever been on the Olympic Program. A familiar face leads the list, but you will note that the top 4, who competed in 8 and 7 events, all did so in 1906. Sheridan actually entered 15 events in 1906, but got injured in the pentathlon and withdrew from a number of them.

Martin Sheridan

### name Gdr NOC Year Evt1 Evt2 Evt3 Evt4 Evt5 Evt6 Evt7 Evt8
8 Eric Lemming M SWE 1906 TJ SP DT sLJ DTg JTf StoneThr Pent
7 Gustav Krojer M AUT 1906 100 HJ LJ TJ sHJ sLJ Pent
7 Julius Wagner M GER 1906 100 LJ SP sLJ DTg StoneThr Pent
7 Martin Sheridan M USA 1906 SP DT sHJ sLJ DTg StoneThr Pent
6 Bram Evers M NED 1908 400 800 PV LJ sLJ 1600relay
6 Jacobus Hoogveld M NED 1908 100 200 400 LJ sLJ 1600relay
6 Ville Ritola M FIN 1924 5000 10000 Steeple 3KTm XC XCTm
6 Einar Nilsson M SWE 1912 SP DT Dec Pent SPb DTb
6 Martin Sheridan M USA 1908 TJ SP DT sHJ sLJ DTg
6 Eric Lemming M SWE 1900 HJ PV LJ TJ DT HT
6 Henry Leeke M GBR 1908 SP DT HT JT DTg JTf
6 Paul Weinstein M GER 1906 HJ LJ TJ sHJ sLJ JTf
6 Pierre Failliot M FRA 1912 100 200 4×100 4×400 Dec Pent
6 István Mudin M HUN 1906 SP DT sLJ DTg JTf Pent
6 Heikki Åhlman M FIN 1906 PV SP DT JTf StoneThr Pent
6 Géo André M FRA 1912 110HH HJ Dec Pent sHJ sLJ
5 39 tied with 5
4 139 tied with 4

So this is probably the list you’re looking for – most events at a single Olympics, counting only modern events, but including individual events and relays. Lemming is at the top with 6 in 1900, with 8 men who competed in 5 events in various years (none 1906), and Marion Jones in 2000 was the only woman to ever compete in 5 track & field events at a single Olympics. Or did she really compete? Maybe she has been erased – see the movie “Eraser” with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Vanessa Williams, and James Caan.

### Name Gdr NOC Year Evt1 Evt2 Evt3 Evt4 Evt5 Evt6
6 Eric Lemming M SWE 1900 High Jump PV LJ TJ DT HT
5 Fritz Hofmann M GER 1896 100 metres 400 HJ TJ SP
5 Oscar Guttormsen M NOR 1908 100 metres 200 400 110HH TJ
5 Charles Lelong M FRA 1912 100 metres 200 400 4×100 4×400
5 Max Herrmann M GER 1912 100 metres 200 400 4×100 4×400
5 Pierre Failliot M FRA 1912 100 metres 200 4×100 4×400 Deca
5 Johannes Viljoen M RSA 1928 100 metres 110HH LJ TJ Deca
5 Abebe Hailou M ETH 1956 100 metres 200 400 4×100 4×400
5 Beyene Legesse M ETH 1956 100 metres 200 400 4×100 4×400
5 Marion Jones F USA 2000 100 metres 200 4×100 4×400 LJ
4 74 tied with 4
3 883 tied with 3

Now a number of Olympians have competed in 2 or more track & field events at 2 or more Olympics. But only 8 Olympians have competed in 3 or more track & field events at 3 or more Olympics, with 2 of them dropping off the list if you are a 1906 stickler. There are 4 men and 4 women, with Merlene Ottey having done this a remarkable 5 times. Eric Lemming is also on this list, but that includes 1906.

3+Oly Name Gdr NOC YR1 YR2 YR3 YR4 YR5
5 Merlene Ottey F JAM 1980 1984 1988 1992 1996
3 Raelene Boyle F AUS 1972 1968 1976
3 Shirley Strickland de la Hunty F AUS 1948 1952 1956
3 Phil Edwards M CAN 1928 1932 1936
3 Diego Ordóñez M ESP 1920 1924 1928
3 Mary Onyali-Omagbemi F NGR 1992 1996 2000
3 Eric Lemming M SWE 1900 1906 1908
3 Jim Lightbody M USA 1904 1906 1908

Now yesterday Galen Rupp qualified for the 2016 US Olympic marathon team, and is talking of also running the 10,000 in Rio. Remember 1952, when Emil Zátopek won the 5,000, 10,000, and marathon? (I don’t remember it too well – I was 5-months-old) Has that ever been done before or since? In London the doyen of Olympic beat writers Phil Hersh asked me to dig up some data about how common is it now for athletes to compete in multiple related events, such as the Zátopek triple. So we looked at a few of those.

As anyone ever competed in the 100, 200, and 400 at a single Olympics. Yes, in fact, it has been done 36 times, by 32 men and 4 women. You never heard of any of them. The last to do it were females Zoila Stewart (CRC) and Ngozi Mwanamwambwa (ZAM) in 1992. The last man to do it was Daniel André, a Mauritian, in 1984.

What about running the 200, 400, and 800? This is much rarer and has only been done 4 times, by 3 men, the last of whom did it in 1924. Again, you don’t know any of the men. The woman was Eugenia Osho-Williams of Sierra Leone who in 1980 achieved the remarkable feat of running the 100, 200, 400, and 800, figuring on both these first two lists, and is the only one to do this quadruple. She did not get past the first round of any event.

What about the 400, 800, 1500 triple? Been done 7 times, 6 from 1904-12, with Israeli Mark Handelsman doing this in 1980.

Nobody has ever run the 800, 1500, and 5K at one Olympics. But in the 1500, 5K, and 10K triple, we have 5 names, 2 of whom you should know. Sweden’s Edwin Wide did this in 1924, and Kenyan Kip Keino did it in 1968. The last time it happened was in 1968, when Keino was joined by Nepali Hari Bahadur Rokaya – some of these are pretty obscure.

How about the Zátopek triple of 5K, 10K, and marathon? This has been done 17 times, and there are some pretty famous names in this group. Besides Zátopek, Lasse Virtanen (FIN) did it in 1932, and his countryman, Lasse Virén, did it in 1976, winning the 5 and 10, and placing sixth in the marathon. Ron Clarke ran all 3 events in 1964, and in 1968, Ethiopian Mamo Wolde and Kenyan Naftali Temu ran all 3 long-distance events, with Wolde winning gold in the marathon, and silver in the 10K, which was won by Temu, who also won a bronze in the 5K.

Running both hurdles races – the 110 (or 100) and 400 hurdles – has been done only 4 times. It happened in 1928 and 1932, and the last 2 times it occurred was in 1964.

In 1936 Jesse Owens won the 100, 200 and long jump, as did Carl Lewis in 1984. How often have people even competed in this sprinting-oriented triple? It has happened 21 times, with Lewis doing it in 1984 and 1988, and he was the last man. Several famous women did this – Irena Szewińska-Kirszenstein (POL) did it in 1968, Heide Drechsler-Daute (GDR) did it in 1988, and Marion Jones (USA) did it in 2000, unless she has been erased.

At London in 2012 American Will Claye competed in the long jump and triple jump, as did Australian Henry Frayne. This is pretty common as this made 142 times this has been achieved at a single Olympics.

Let’s not forget the big guys and gals, the weight throwers. Shot put and discus throw is a common double for the throwers to pull off. In fact, its been done 185 times at the Olympics, most notably by Soviet Tamara Press, who won both events in 1968, and in 1964 won the shot put and won silver in the discus. In 1906, Martin Sheridan also won both events – there, I got him in again.

Have any throwers ever competed in more than 2 events? Of course they have – why else would I bring it up? Between 1900-24, 13 throwers competed 14 times in 3 or more of the weight throwing events (shot, discus, hammer, javelin). American Ralph Rose did it in 1904 and 1912, competing in the shot, discus, and hammer each time, winning a complete set of medals in all three events in 1904 – gold in shot put, silver in discus throw, and bronze in hammer throw. Perhaps most remarkably, in 1908 Britian Henry Leeke competed in all four throwing events, the only time this has been done at the Olympics.

So this should answer pretty much any question you had about who has competed in the most track & field athletics events.

With thanx to my research associates, Martin Sheridan Mallon (the lab) and Barney Rubble Mallon (the Westie)

MartyBarney

 

Olympic Marathon Age Records

The US Olympic marathon trials were held today and Meb Keflezighi made his fourth Olympic team. Meb won a bronze medal in the 2004 Olympic marathon and will be 41 years old on the day of the 2016 Olympic marathon. Much is being made about his age – how does it stack up against previous Olympic marathoners?

Meb Keflezighi

On the day of the Olympic marathon in Rio, Meb will be 41 years, 108 days old (41-108). That’s relatively ancient for a world-class marathoner, but far from unheard of. In fact, there have been 21 Olympic men run the Olympic marathon at an older age, led by Canadian Percy Wyer, who ran the 1936 marathon when he was 52-years-old. Here is the top 25 through 2012:

Age name year noc
52-199 Percy Wyer 1936 CAN
48-196 Bohumil "Boris" Honzátko 1924 TCH
46-135 Haile Satayin 2008 ISR
45-246 Toni Bernadó 2012 AND
44-195 Percy Wyer 1928 CAN
44-069 Jack Foster 1976 NZL
44-017 Wally Hayward 1952 RSA
43-023 Luis López 1992 CRC
42-240 Ion Pool 1900 GBR
42-194 Roman Kejžar 2008 SLO
42-140 Haile Satayin 2004 ISR
41-345 Wallace Williams 1988 ISV
41-258 Toni Bernadó 2008 AND
41-235 Panagiotis "Peter" Trivoulidis 1920 GRE
41-235 Eusebio Guiñez 1948 ARG
41-206 Ville Kyrönen 1932 FIN
41-206 Andrés Espinosa 2004 MEX
41-204 Harold Webster 1936 CAN
41-201 William Saward 1900 GBR
41-166 Baba Ibrahim Suma-Keita 1988 SLE
41-148 Jack Holden 1948 GBR
40-352 Cristea Dinu 1952 ROU
40-336 Johnny A. Kelley 1948 USA
40-309 Mikko Hietanen 1952 FIN
40-185 Franjo Mihalić 1960 YUG

What about among US men Olympic marathoners, you surely are asking? Meb will become the oldest American man to run the marathon at the Olympics, with the current oldest being Johnny “The Elder” Kelley at London in 1948. Meb’s 2012 London marathon already put him 6th oldest among US men. Here is the US top 10 list:

Age name year noc
40-336 Johnny A. Kelley 1948 USA
40-104 Jimmy Henigan 1932 USA
40-059 Clarence DeMar 1928 USA
38-321 Billy Churchill 1924 USA
38-235 Albert "Whitey" Michelsen 1932 USA
37-099 Meb Keflezighi 2012 USA
36-102 Jimmy Henigan 1928 USA
36-036 Clarence DeMar 1924 USA
35-241 Tom Jones 1952 USA
35-223 Abdi Abdirahman 2012 USA

This will be Meb’s third Olympic marathon, after 2004 and 2012 – he ran the 10,000 metres in 2000. Have any marathoners ever competed in more Olympic races? Yes, in fact, Andorran Toni Bernadó and Romanian Lidia Şimon ran 5 Olympic marathons from 1996-2012. Here is the list of all those running 4 or more Olympic marathons:

### name gender noc Yr1 Yr2 Yr3 Yr4 Yr5
5 Toni Bernadó M AND 1996 2000 2004 2008 2012
5 Lidia Şimon F ROU 1996 2000 2004 2008 2012
4 Karel Lismont M BEL 1972 1976 1980 1984
4 Baikuntha Manandhar M NEP 1976 1980 1984 1988
4 Rob de Castella M AUS 1980 1984 1988 1992
4 Ahmed Salah M DJI 1984 1988 1992 1996
4 Lisa Martin-Ondieki F AUS 1984 1988 1992 1996
4 Lorraine Moller F NZL 1984 1988 1992 1996
4 Steve Moneghetti M AUS 1988 1992 1996 2000
4 Erika Olivera F CHI 1996 2000 2004 2012
4 Lee Bong-Ju M KOR 1996 2000 2004 2008
4 Pavel Loskutov M EST 1996 2000 2004 2008
4 Viktor Röthlin M SUI 2000 2004 2008 2012

Shalane Flanagan will also run in her 4th Olympics, after racing the 5K in 2004, the 5 and 10K in 2008, and the marathon in 2012. Flanagan will be 35 years old in Rio. How does that stack up against female Olympic marathoners in terms of senescence? Here are the lists for the top 25 oldest women to run the Olympic marathon and the USA top 10 list:

Age name year noc
48-234 Lourdes Klitzkie 1988 GUM
46-284 Joyce Smith 1984 GBR
46-236 Evy Palm 1988 SWE
43-083 Irina Bogacheva 2004 KGZ
42-195 Sue Hobson 2000 AUS
42-194 Constantina Tomescu 2012 ROU
41-141 María Luisa Muñoz 2000 ESP
41-058 Lorraine Moller 1996 NZL
40-298 Garifa Kuku 2000 KAZ
40-297 Ivana Sekyrová 2012 CZE
40-130 Colleen de Reuck 2004 USA
39-347 Irina Mikitenko 2012 GER
39-299 María Elena Espeso 2012 ESP
39-256 Priscilla Welch 1984 GBR
39-251 Francie Larrieu-Smith 1992 USA
39-159 Pauline Curley 2008 IRL
39-157 Rhonda Davidson-Alley 2000 GUM
39-116 Irina Bogacheva 2000 KGZ
39-077 Gaby Andersen-Schiess 1984 SUI
39-052 Liza Hunter-Galvan 2008 NZL
38-357 Mara Yamauchi 2012 GBR
38-335 Lidia Şimon 2012 ROU
38-251 Magda Ilands 1988 BEL
38-232 Nelly Chávez 1984 BOL
38-206 Constantina Tomescu 2008 ROU
Age name year noc
40-130 Colleen de Reuck 2004 USA
39-251 Francie Larrieu-Smith 1992 USA
37-349 Chris Clark 2000 USA
35-183 Deena Drossin-Kastor 2008 USA
35-082 Linda Somers 1996 USA
35-015 Magda Lewy-Boulet 2008 USA
34-091 Nancy Ditz 1988 USA
34-027 Kara Goucher 2012 USA
33-024 Blake Russell 2008 USA
33-009 Jenny Spangler 1996 USA

Colleen de Reuck

Flanagan’s 2012 Olympic marathon was done at age 31-028, putting her 13th on the US list for oldest female Olympic marathoners through 2012. She will be 35-037 on the day of the women’s Rio marathon and will move up to 6th among US Olympic marathoners, but she will not crack the top 25 for all nations.

 

Competing in Multiple Olympics

So we’ve had a few e-mails recently concerning how common it is for athletes to compete in more than one Olympic Games. On the “Mike and Mike” ESPN radio show they speculated that it was actually quite rare for Olympians to compete in more than one Olympics. Thus we decided to look at this in some detail.

Its not actually that rare and further, its becoming more and more common for athletes to compete in 2 or more Olympics. That is especially true of the Winter Olympics. We will only examine the Games since World War II, since the 12-year gap between 1936 and 1948 will skew all results, and this brings us closer to the modern era.

Here are the overall tables for both men and women Olympians at the Summer and Winter Olympics:

Summer Total 1G 2G 3G 4G 5G 6+G 1G 2+G
Totals 107696 80048 20001 5731 1449 348 119 74.3% 25.7%
Men 82256 62010 14625 4201 1071 263 86 75.4% 24.6%
Women 25440 18038 5376 1530 378 85 33 70.9% 29.1%
Winter Total 1G 2G 3G 4G 5G 6+G 1G 2+G
Totals 17459 11510 4059 1384 394 92 20 65.9% 34.1%
Men 12902 8607 2987 948 276 68 16 66.7% 33.3%
Women 4557 2903 1072 436 118 24 4 63.7% 36.3%

So its fairly common to compete in more than one Olympics, although overall only about 30% of Olympians get to a second Games. You’ll note, however, that Winter Olympians do it more frequently than summer Olympians – 34.1% to 25.7%. And women seem to come back to a second Olympics slightly more often than do men.

Here are the lists of the Games since 1948, comparing athletes who started at each Olympics, and competed in either 1 or 2 or more (2+) Olympics. We stopped at 2008 and 2010, since anyone who first competed in 2012 or 2014 could only have competed at one Olympics as of February 2016.

Year 1Games 2+Games Season
1948 73.8% 26.2% S
1952 79.9% 20.1% S
1956 70.5% 29.5% S
1960 73.8% 26.2% S
1964 73.7% 26.3% S
1968 69.4% 30.6% S
1972 75.1% 24.9% S
1976 76.1% 23.9% S
1980 79.6% 20.4% S
1984 71.3% 28.7% S
1988 67.7% 32.3% S
1992 66.6% 33.4% S
1996 64.8% 35.2% S
2000 64.2% 35.8% S
2004 61.9% 38.1% S
2008 67.2% 32.8% S
Year 1Games 2+Games Season
1948 74.6% 25.4% W
1952 71.4% 28.6% W
1956 72.1% 27.9% W
1960 61.5% 38.5% W
1964 66.5% 33.5% W
1968 68.7% 31.3% W
1972 64.9% 35.1% W
1976 67.0% 33.0% W
1980 65.5% 34.5% W
1984 61.4% 38.6% W
1988 61.1% 38.9% W
1992 49.4% 50.6% W
1994 56.8% 43.2% W
1998 52.0% 48.0% W
2002 51.6% 48.4% W
2006 54.5% 45.5% W
2010 53.8% 46.2% W

It is likely that the 2008 and 2010 numbers will eventually end up with a higher percentage for the 2+ Olympians, as some of those competing in 2008 and 2010 will likely compete in 2016 and 2018. The numbers seem to be increasing and if we look at a graph and determine a best fit for the numbers, its fairly obvious that more and more athletes are competing in 2 or more Olympics.

SummerMultiOlympians

And here is the graph for the Winter Olympics, where there is now almost equilibrium between 1-time Olympians and those competing in 2 or more Games.

WinterMultiOlympians

The biggest spike for the Winter Games occurs between 1992 and 1994, when the Winter Olympics had their only gap of 2 years between Games.

Now which sports are particularly suited to Olympians competed more than one time? This is as you would expect, with equestrian, fencing, and shooting figuring prominently. But there are a few surprises, and this time we will look at how often Olympians compete 4 or more times, and 6 or more times. Here is the list by sports for the Summer Games – this include all Olympics since 1896:

Sport 1Games 2+Games 4+Games 6+Games
Archery 76.0% 24.0% 2.4% 0.3%
Athletics (Track & Field) 72.3% 27.7% 1.6% 0.0%
Badminton 65.1% 34.9% 1.7% 0.0%
Baseball 85.7% 14.3% 0.3% 0.0%
Basketball 75.9% 24.1% 1.2% 0.0%
Beach Volleyball 65.7% 34.3% 1.6% 0.0%
Boxing 87.6% 12.4% 0.1% 0.0%
Canoe & Kayaking 66.9% 33.1% 3.2% 0.1%
Cycling 79.2% 20.8% 1.2% 0.1%
Diving 66.0% 34.0% 2.4% 0.0%
Equestrianism 70.4% 29.6% 4.3% 1.1%
Fencing 64.6% 35.4% 4.0% 0.2%
Football (Soccer) 92.5% 7.5% 0.2% 0.0%
Golf 99.0% 1.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Gymnastics (Artistic) 79.4% 20.6% 0.4% 0.0%
Handball 73.8% 26.2% 1.3% 0.0%
Hockey (Field) 69.5% 30.5% 1.3% 0.0%
Judo 72.0% 28.0% 1.5% 0.0%
Modern Pentathlon 74.2% 25.8% 1.3% 0.0%
Rhythmic Gymnastics 87.4% 12.6% 0.2% 0.0%
Rowing & Sculling 76.5% 23.5% 1.4% 0.1%
Rugby Football 95.5% 4.5% 0.0% 0.0%
Sailing (Yachting) 73.3% 26.7% 3.5% 0.3%
Shooting 68.9% 31.1% 5.0% 0.7%
Softball 76.0% 24.0% 1.1% 0.0%
Swimming 73.2% 26.8% 1.1% 0.0%
Synchronized Swimming 74.5% 25.5% 0.4% 0.0%
Table Tennis 57.4% 42.6% 7.5% 0.8%
Taekwondo 77.5% 22.5% 0.8% 0.0%
Tennis 69.1% 30.9% 1.7% 0.1%
Trampoline 53.4% 46.6% 4.1% 0.0%
Triathlon 66.3% 33.7% 1.0% 0.0%
Volleyball (Indoor) 72.7% 27.3% 1.6% 0.0%
Water Polo 67.0% 33.0% 2.8% 0.0%
Weightlifting 72.7% 27.3% 1.4% 0.0%
Wrestling 72.4% 27.6% 1.4% 0.0%

What’s up with table tennis, where over 43% of the Olympians compete more than once? Further, fully 7.5% of Olympic table tennis players have competed in 4 or more Olympics, the highest total for any sport, and that approaches twice as much as equestrian (4.3%) and fencing (4.0%), the two next highest sports for that stat. Looking at Olympians competed in 6 or more Games, only equestrian and table tennis have any significant proportion of their Olympians achieving that, with equestrian leading table tennis – 1.1% to 0.8% – of Olympic table tennis players competing in at least 6 Olympics.

Here is the similar list for the Winter Olympians, looking only at 2+ and 4+ Olympians:

Sport 1Games 2+Games 4+Games
Alpine Skiing 66.0% 34.0% 2.7%
Biathlon 57.6% 42.4% 5.2%
Bobsledding 73.7% 26.3% 2.7%
Cross-Country Skiing 64.7% 35.3% 4.0%
Curling 76.9% 23.1% 0.0%
Figure Skating 71.1% 28.9% 0.9%
Freestyle Skiing 64.0% 36.0% 4.3%
Ice Hockey 70.9% 29.1% 1.6%
Luge 57.2% 42.8% 6.1%
Nordic Combined 67.4% 32.6% 1.9%
Short-Track Speedskating 60.9% 39.1% 2.1%
Skeleton 74.8% 25.2% 0.0%
Ski Jumping 65.8% 34.2% 2.6%
Snowboarding 64.4% 35.6% 0.7%
Speed Skating 59.0% 41.0% 3.8%

Not too surprising is that luge sliders compete in more than one Winter Olympics more frequently than other Winter sport Olympians. But it is surprising that biathletes do so almost as frequently as lugers, and biathlon is a very physically rigorous sport. We really can’t explain that.

So if you want to compete in more than one Olympics, pick your sport carefully, and realize you have a much better chance of doing this than your parents or grandparents did.

Olympic Birthday Medalists

Many people celebrate their birthday. What better way to celebrate it than to win an Olympic medal on one’s birthday? Has this actually happened at the Olympics? Yes, in fact, 86 athletes have done it 90 times.

Only one athlete has won 3 Olympic medals on his/her birthday and that was French archer Eugène Richez, who won 2 silvers and a bronze in team target archery events at the 1900 Olympics. Those Olympics were so unusual, and the archery events were especially so, let’s look at the 2 athletes who have won 2 medals on their birthday.

The first was Sidney Merlin, a British shooter who won a gold and bronze medal in 2 trap shooting events at the 1906 Olympics and, again, the 1906 Olympics are somewhat controversial.

So that leaves only German equestrian Michael Jung who won 2 gold medals on 31 July 2012 in eventing, the day he turned 30-years-old. Jung is the only Olympian to have won 2 gold medals on his/her birthday at IOC-recognized Olympics – a fact that seemed to escape most of the world’s media in London, including our OlympStats group, to be fair.

How many athletes have won gold medals on their birthday, the ultimate celebration? That has been done 32 times, by 31 Olympians, with Jung winning 2 in 2012. That has been done 6 times at the Winter Olympics, and 26 times at the Summer Games. Seven women have won an Olympic gold medal on their birthday, two at the Winter Olympics – Madeleine Chamot-Berthod (SUI) in downhill skiing at the 1956 Cortina Olympics, and Cathrine Lindahl (SWE) in 2010 curling.

So Lindahl won her gold medal in a team event. How often have Olympians won medals or gold medals in individual events, probably the uber-ultimate birthday present? That has been done 29 times, by 28 athletes, with Merlin winning two in 1906 on his 26 April birthday.

Winning an individual gold medal on your birthday is fairly rare, done only 13 times by 13 Olympians. The only woman to have done it is Chamot-Berthod at the 1956 Winter Olympics – no woman has done it at the Summer Olympics. Only 4 Winter Olympians have pulled this off while it has been done 9 times at the Summer Olympics.

The youngest birthday medalist was Mariya Filatova, actually a gold medalist in the 1976 gymnastics team all-around, on her 15th birthday. The oldest was Richez, who was 56-years-old when he won his 3 medals in 1900 archery on 5 August. Again, discounting him, the next oldest was Merlin in 1906, who was 50-years-old, so we’ll look further, and find that William Dod was 41-years-old in 1908 when he won a gold medal on his birthday (18 July) in Double York Round archery. The oldest female to pull this off was Lindahl in curling, who was 40-years-old on 26 February 2010. The youngest man was Jamaican Greg Meghoo, a silver medalist in the 4×100 relay, when he turned 19 on 11 August 1984.

Not easy to do and if you want to do this, in addition to being a great athlete, you better hope to have been born in February, July, or August anymore.

Here is the complete list of the 90 birthday medals:

  • Sidney Merlin (M / GBR / Summer) (1906 Shooting; Trap, Double Shot, 14 metres) (Gold / Individual) (*26 April 1856; 50-years-old)
  • William Dod (M / GBR / Summer) (1908 Archery; Double York Round) (Gold / Individual) (*18 July 1867; 41-years-old)
  • Henri Anspach (M / BEL / Summer) (1912 Fencing; Épée, Team) (Gold / Team) (*10 July 1882; 30-years-old)
  • Erik Herseth (M / NOR / Summer) (1920 Sailing; 10 metres, 1907 Rating) (Gold / Team) (*9 July 1892; 28-years-old)
  • Charles Bugbee (M / GBR / Summer) (1920 Water Polo) (Gold / Team) (*29 August 1887; 33-years-old)
  • István Barta (M / HUN / Summer) (1932 Water Polo) (Gold / Team) (*13 August 1895; 37-years-old)
  • Dieter Arend (M / GER / Summer) (1936 Rowing; Coxed Pairs) (Gold / Team) (*14 August 1914; 22-years-old)
  • Miklós Sárkány (M / HUN / Summer) (1936 Water Polo) (Gold / Team) (*15 August 1908; 28-years-old)
  • Sammy Lee (M / USA / Summer) (1952 Diving; Platform) (Gold / Individual) (*1 August 1920; 32-years-old)
  • Madeleine Chamot-Berthod (F / SUI / Winter) (1956 Alpine Skiing; Downhill) (Gold / Individual) (*1 February 1931; 25-years-old)
  • Viktor Kosichkin (M / URS / Winter) (1960 Speedskating; 5,000 metres) (Gold / Individual) (*25 February 1938; 22-years-old)
  • Vladimir Shmelyov (M / URS / Summer) (1972 Modern Pentathlon; Team) (Gold / Team) (*31 August 1946; 26-years-old)
  • Jan Egil Storholt (M / NOR / Winter) (1976 Speedskating; 1,500 metres) (Gold / Individual) (*13 February 1949; 27-years-old)
  • Mariya Filatova (F / URS / Summer) (1976 Gymnastics; Team All-Around) (Gold / Team) (*19 July 1961; 15-years-old)
  • Yelena Novikova-Belova (F / URS / Summer) (1976 Fencing; Foil, Team) (Gold / Team) (*28 July 1947; 29-years-old)
  • Vakht’ang Blagidze (M / URS / Summer) (1980 Wrestling; Flyweight, Greco-Roman (≤52 kg)) (Gold / Individual) (*23 July 1954; 26-years-old)
  • Pascal Jolyot (M / FRA / Summer) (1980 Fencing; Foil, Team) (Gold / Team) (*26 July 1958; 22-years-old)
  • Angel Herrera (M / CUB / Summer) (1980 Boxing; Lightweight (≤60 kg)) (Gold / Individual) (*2 August 1957; 23-years-old)
  • Chris Jacobs (M / USA / Summer) (1988 Swimming; 4 x 100 metres Medley Relay) (Gold / Team) (*25 September 1964; 24-years-old)
  • Nazim Hüseynov (M / EUN / Summer) (1992 Judo; Extra-Lightweight (≤60 kg)) (Gold / Individual) (*2 August 1969; 23-years-old)
  • Ana Ivis Fernández (F / CUB / Summer) (1996 Volleyball) (Gold / Team) (*3 August 1973; 23-years-old)
  • Jon Rauch (M / USA / Summer) (2000 Baseball) (Gold / Team) (*27 September 1978; 22-years-old)
  • Guillermo Rigondeaux (M / CUB / Summer) (2000 Boxing; Bantamweight (≤54 kg)) (Gold / Individual) (*30 September 1980; 20-years-old)
  • Ruth Riley (F / USA / Summer) (2004 Basketball) (Gold / Team) (*28 August 1979; 25-years-old)
  • Per-Johan Axelsson (M / SWE / Winter) (2006 Ice Hockey) (Gold / Team) (*26 February 1975; 31-years-old)
  • \N Mari (F / BRA / Summer) (2008 Volleyball) (Gold / Team) (*23 August 1983; 25-years-old)
  • Michael Redd (M / USA / Summer) (2008 Basketball) (Gold / Team) (*24 August 1979; 29-years-old)
  • Mo Tae-Beom (M / KOR / Winter) (2010 Speedskating; 500 metres) (Gold / Individual) (*15 February 1989; 21-years-old)
  • Cathrine Lindahl (F / SWE / Winter) (2010 Curling) (Gold / Team) (*26 February 1970; 40-years-old)
  • Michael Jung (M / GER / Summer) (2012 Equestrian Events; 3-Day Event, Individual) (Gold / Individual) (*31 July 1982; 30-years-old)
  • Michael Jung (M / GER / Summer) (2012 Equestrian Events; 3-Day Event, Team) (Gold / Team) (*31 July 1982; 30-years-old)
  • Daniele Molmenti (M / ITA / Summer) (2012 Canoeing; Kayak Singles, Slalom) (Gold / Individual) (*1 August 1984; 28-years-old)
  • John Svanberg (M / SWE / Summer) (1906 Athletics; Marathon) (Silver / Individual) (*1 May 1881; 25-years-old)
  • Nils Thomas (M / NOR / Summer) (1920 Sailing; 8 metres, 1919 Rating) (Silver / Team) (*9 July 1889; 31-years-old)
  • Eugène Richez (M / FRA / Summer) (1920 Archery; Target Archery, 33 metres, Team) (Silver / Team) (*5 August 1864; 56-years-old)
  • Eugène Richez (M / FRA / Summer) (1920 Archery; Target Archery, 50 metres, Team) (Silver / Team) (*5 August 1864; 56-years-old)
  • John Garrison (M / USA / Winter) (1932 Ice Hockey) (Silver / Team) (*13 February 1909; 23-years-old)
  • Dante Secchi (M / ITA / Summer) (1936 Rowing; Coxed Eights) (Silver / Team) (*14 August 1910; 26-years-old)
  • Eugenio Monti (M / ITA / Winter) (1956 Bobsledding; Two) (Silver / Team) (*28 January 1928; 28-years-old)
  • Teresa Ciepły-Wieczorek (F / POL / Summer) (1964 Athletics; 80 metres Hurdles) (Silver / Individual) (*19 October 1937; 27-years-old)
  • Manfred Schumann (M / FRG / Winter) (1976 Bobsledding; Two) (Silver / Team) (*7 February 1951; 25-years-old)
  • Daniel Morelon (M / FRA / Summer) (1976 Cycling; Sprint) (Silver / Individual) (*24 July 1944; 32-years-old)
  • Dave Ottley (M / GBR / Summer) (1984 Athletics; Javelin Throw) (Silver / Individual) (*5 August 1955; 29-years-old)
  • Jeong Sun-Bok (F / KOR / Summer) (1984 Handball) (Silver / Team) (*9 August 1960; 24-years-old)
  • Greg Meghoo (M / JAM / Summer) (1984 Athletics; 4 x 100 metres Relay) (Silver / Team) (*11 August 1965; 19-years-old)
  • Mark Phillips (M / GBR / Summer) (1988 Equestrian Events; 3-Day Event, Team) (Silver / Team) (*22 September 1948; 40-years-old)
  • Andreas Keller (M / FRG / Summer) (1988 Hockey) (Silver / Team) (*1 October 1965; 23-years-old)
  • Nataliya Shikolenko (F / EUN / Summer) (1992 Athletics; Javelin Throw) (Silver / Individual) (*1 August 1964; 28-years-old)
  • Sergey Tarasov (M / RUS / Winter) (1994 Biathlon; 4 x 7.5 kilometres Relay) (Silver / Team) (*15 February 1965; 29-years-old)
  • Tommy Moe (M / USA / Winter) (1994 Alpine Skiing; Super G) (Silver / Individual) (*17 February 1970; 24-years-old)
  • Peter Leone (M / USA / Summer) (1996 Equestrian Events; Jumping, Team) (Silver / Team) (*1 August 1960; 36-years-old)
  • Paolo Tofoli (M / ITA / Summer) (1996 Volleyball) (Silver / Team) (*4 August 1966; 30-years-old)
  • George Karrys (M / CAN / Winter) (1998 Curling) (Silver / Team) (*15 February 1967; 31-years-old)
  • Yelena Zamolodchikova (F / RUS / Summer) (2000 Gymnastics; Team All-Around) (Silver / Team) (*19 September 1982; 18-years-old)
  • Gillian Lindsay (F / GBR / Summer) (2000 Rowing; Quadruple Sculls) (Silver / Team) (*24 September 1973; 27-years-old)
  • Miguel Caldés (M / CUB / Summer) (2000 Baseball) (Silver / Team) (*27 September 1970; 30-years-old)
  • Kateřina Neumannová (F / CZE / Winter) (2002 Cross-Country Skiing; 5/5 kilometres Pursuit) (Silver / Individual) (*15 February 1973; 29-years-old)
  • Irina Lobacheva (F / RUS / Winter) (2002 Figure Skating; Ice Dancing) (Silver / Team) (*18 February 1973; 29-years-old)
  • Brendan Hansen (M / USA / Summer) (2004 Swimming; 100 metres Breaststroke) (Silver / Individual) (*15 August 1981; 23-years-old)
  • Jens Arne Svartedal (M / NOR / Winter) (2006 Cross-Country Skiing; Team Sprint) (Silver / Team) (*14 February 1976; 30-years-old)
  • Park Gyeong-Mo (M / KOR / Summer) (2008 Archery; Individual) (Silver / Individual) (*15 August 1975; 33-years-old)
  • Rohanee Cox (F / AUS / Summer) (2008 Basketball) (Silver / Team) (*23 August 1980; 28-years-old)
  • Marianne St-Gelais (F / CAN / Winter) (2010 Short-Track Speedskating; 500 metres) (Silver / Individual) (*17 February 1990; 20-years-old)
  • Paola Espinosa (F / MEX / Summer) (2012 Diving; Synchronized Platform) (Silver / Team) (*31 July 1986; 26-years-old)
  • Lucha Aymar (F / ARG / Summer) (2012 Hockey) (Silver / Team) (*10 August 1977; 35-years-old)
  • Sidney Merlin (M / GBR / Summer) (1906 Shooting; Trap, Single Shot, 16 metres) (Bronze / Individual) (*26 April 1856; 50-years-old)
  • Charles Vigurs (M / GBR / Summer) (1912 Gymnastics; Team All-Around, European System) (Bronze / Team) (*11 July 1888; 24-years-old)
  • Eugène Richez (M / FRA / Summer) (1920 Archery; Target Archery, 28 metres, Team) (Bronze / Team) (*5 August 1864; 56-years-old)
  • Freddie McEvoy (M / GBR / Winter) (1936 Bobsledding; Four) (Bronze / Team) (*12 February 1907; 29-years-old)
  • Göpf Kottmann (M / SUI / Summer) (1964 Rowing; Single Sculls) (Bronze / Individual) (*15 October 1932; 32-years-old)
  • Viktor Borshch (M / URS / Summer) (1972 Volleyball) (Bronze / Team) (*9 September 1948; 24-years-old)
  • Silvia Chivás (F / CUB / Summer) (1972 Athletics; 4 x 100 metres Relay) (Bronze / Team) (*10 September 1954; 18-years-old)
  • Henry Glaß (M / GDR / Winter) (1976 Ski Jumping; Large Hill, Individual) (Bronze / Individual) (*15 February 1953; 23-years-old)
  • Valery Dolinin (M / URS / Summer) (1976 Rowing; Coxless Fours) (Bronze / Team) (*25 July 1953; 23-years-old)
  • Pertti Teurajärvi (M / FIN / Winter) (1980 Cross-Country Skiing; 4 x 10 kilometres Relay) (Bronze / Team) (*20 February 1951; 29-years-old)
  • László Kuncz (M / HUN / Summer) (1980 Water Polo) (Bronze / Team) (*29 July 1957; 23-years-old)
  • Tsutomu Sakamoto (M / JPN / Summer) (1984 Cycling; Sprint) (Bronze / Individual) (*3 August 1962; 22-years-old)
  • Mark Kerry (M / AUS / Summer) (1984 Swimming; 4 x 100 metres Medley Relay) (Bronze / Team) (*4 August 1959; 25-years-old)
  • Tomislav Ivković (M / YUG / Summer) (1984 Football) (Bronze / Team) (*11 August 1960; 24-years-old)
  • Seth Bauer (M / USA / Summer) (1988 Rowing; Coxed Eights) (Bronze / Team) (*25 September 1959; 29-years-old)
  • Yevgeny Grishin (M / URS / Summer) (1988 Water Polo) (Bronze / Team) (*1 October 1959; 29-years-old)
  • Chris Johnson (M / CAN / Summer) (1992 Boxing; Middleweight (≤75 kg)) (Bronze / Individual) (*8 August 1971; 21-years-old)
  • Park Hae-Jeong (F / KOR / Summer) (1996 Table Tennis; Doubles) (Bronze / Team) (*29 July 1972; 24-years-old)
  • Matteo Bisiani (M / ITA / Summer) (1996 Archery; Team) (Bronze / Team) (*2 August 1976; 20-years-old)
  • \N Leila (F / BRA / Summer) (2000 Volleyball) (Bronze / Team) (*30 September 1971; 29-years-old)
  • Aleksey Kovalyov (M / RUS / Winter) (2002 Ice Hockey) (Bronze / Team) (*24 February 1973; 29-years-old)
  • Helen Tanger (F / NED / Summer) (2004 Rowing; Coxed Eights) (Bronze / Team) (*22 August 1978; 26-years-old)
  • Norman Bröckl (M / GER / Summer) (2008 Canoeing; Kayak Fours, 1,000 metres) (Bronze / Team) (*22 August 1986; 22-years-old)
  • Luke Doerner (M / AUS / Summer) (2008 Hockey) (Bronze / Team) (*23 August 1979; 29-years-old)
  • Felipe Kitadai (M / BRA / Summer) (2012 Judo; Extra-Lightweight (≤60 kg)) (Bronze / Individual) (*28 July 1989; 23-years-old)

Married Couples Winning Olympic Gold Medals

With the Rio Olympics coming up, the media is looking at what may happen and what sorts of new Olympic bests and records may occur. One thing that is being discussed is the possibility that Ashton Eaton (USA) and his wife, Brianne Theisen-Eaton (CAN), may win gold medals in the decathlon and heptathlon, respectively. The interesting thing about that would be that they compete for different nations – although they both went to school at the University of Oregon.

It is a definite possibility that they both could win. Eaton will be favored, and should win the decathlon, barring injury. Theisen-Eaton may, or may not, be favored. She won the Götzis meeting in 2015, the top heptathlon invitational, but finished second at the 2015 World Championships to Jessica Ennis-Hill of Great Britain, the 2012 Olympic Champion. Theisen-Eaton had also been second at the 2013 Worlds, while Ashton Eaton was World Champion in 2013 and 2015, and Olympic Champion in 2012.

There is another possibility of a similar happenstance. Matt Emmons and Kateřina Kůrková-Emmons compete in shooting for the United States and the Czech Republic, respectively. Kůrková won a gold medal in air rifle in 2008, and has won medals in 2004 and 2008, while Emmons won small-bore rifle medals in 2004, 2008, and 2012, and a gold in 2004 They are a much longer “shot” to both win golds than Eaton / Theisen-Eaton.

Has this ever happened before? It depends on how you look at it and how you define it. Further, there are some difficulties in knowing the precise marital status of couples at certain times. In this era, we usually know when famous athletes marry, but in older Olympics, it was not so easy to determine.

If you are asking – has a married couple from different nations ever won gold medals at the same Olympics – the answer is NO. There are two different cases of couples that were married, at some time, competing for different nations at an Olympics, and winning gold medals at the same Olympics. That would be Hal Connolly and Olga Fikotová in 1956, with Connolly winning the hammer throw for the USA, and Fikotová winning the discus throw for Czechoslovakia; and Jan Frodeno and Emma Snowsill in 2008, both winning the triathlon gold medal, Frodeno for Germany, and Snowsill for Australia. However, neither Connolly/Fikotová, nor Frodeno/Snowsill were married at the time they won their concurrent gold medals.

In all our database contains 66 married couples who have both won gold medals at the Olympics. In 35 cases, they both won gold medals at the same Olympics. We cannot tell you, however, with confidence, how many of them were married at the time they won their concurrent gold medals.

There are 11 Olympic married couples who have won gold medals for different nations, but only Connolly/Fikotová and Frodeno/Snowsill won them at the same Olympics. And again we don’t always know the date of the marriages. Interestingly, all 11 couples won their medals in the same sport. Here are those 11 couples:

Husband Sport NOC Golds Wife NOC Gold1
Hal Connolly ATH USA 1956 Olga Fikotová TCH 1956
Jan Frodeno TRI GER 2008 Emma Snowsill AUS 2008
Bill Toomey ATH USA 1968 Mary Rand GBR 1964
Peter Mueller SSK USA 1976 Marianne Timmer NED 1998/2006
Yuriy Siedykh ATH URS 1976/80 Nataliya Lisovskaya URS 1988
Bart Conner GYM USA 1984 Nadia Comăneci ROU 1976/80
Valery Medvedtsev BIA URS 1988 Nataliya Snytina RUS 1994
Valery Medvedtsev BIA URS 1988 Olga Pylyova RUS 2002/10
Andre Agassi TEN USA 1996 Steffi Graf GER 1988
Ids Postma SSK NED 1998 Anni Friesinger GER 2002/06/10
Matt Emmons SHO USA 2004 Kateřina Kůrková CZE 2008

There are six cases of Olympic married couples winning gold medals together at 2 different Olympic Games, or Olympic Winter Games. Adding Winter is important because 4 of these were married couples in pairs figure skating, well known to most Olympic or figure skating aficionados. These would be, in order of when they did it – Pierre Brunet and Andrée Brunet-Joly (1928/32 – only married in 1932); Oleg Protopopov and Lyudmila Belusova (1964/68); Aleksandr Zaytsev and Irina Rodnina (1976/80); and Sergey Grinkov and Ekaterina Gordeeva (1988/94).

What about married couples from different nations both winning medals of any color at the same Olympic Games? That has happened 13 times by 12 couples, as Emmons and Kůrková-Emmons won medals in both 2004 and 2008, although they were only married in 2008. We can only confirm two married couples that won their medals while married – in addition to Emmons / Kůrková-Emmons in 2008, in 2002 there was Raphaël Poirée (FRA) and Liv Grete Skjelbreid-Poirée (NOR) in biathlon. There are two couples whose marital status at the time of their concurrent medals is uncertain, although of the others, 8 were not married while winning their medals.

In all 230 couples that were either married, eventually married, or once married, have both won Olympic medals. It has happened 31 times that they have been from different nations, but 19 of those did not occur at the same Olympic Games.

Of these 230, 150 couples won medals at the same Olympics, with the same caveat that we can’t always speak for marital status. It has happened 29 times that these couples won medals together at two Olympics, and 3 couples won medals together at 3 Olympics, once again in pairs or dance figure skating – Brunet/Brunet-Joly (1924/28/32), Sergey Ponomarenko/Marina Klimova (1984/88/92) (URS/EUN) (ice dance), and Zhao Hongbo/Shen Xue (2002/06/10) (CHN).

Husbands and wife usually competed in the same sports while winning their medals at the Olympics. Of the 66 gold medalist couples, only 10 of them competed in different sports. Of the 230 medalist couples, 186 of them competed in the same sport.

So, yes Virginia, if Ashton Eaton wins the decathlon at the Rio Olympics, and Briane Theisen-Eaton wins the heptathlon, they will become the first married couple from different nations to win gold medals at the same Olympics, while married.

Christmas Olympic Day and Kaarlo Maaninka

Of all the 128,000 odd Olympians since 1896, 325 were born on Christmas Day. 68 Olympians died on this day, and as you would expect, there have been no Olympic events held on Christmas.

Among the Olympians born on Christmas, you might remember: Noël Vandernotte, 1936 French rowing coxswain who won 2 medals at only 12-years-old, was born in 1923; Ossi Reichert, 1952-56 German alpine skiier who won a gold and silver medal, was born in 1925; Basil Heatley, 1964 British marathon silver medalist, was born in 1933; and Mary Ellen Clark, US platform diver who won bronzes at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics, was born in 1962.

Probably the Olympian with the most connection to Christmas must be Finnish distance runner Kaarlo Maaninka, who was born on Christmas Day in Lapland, about as close as any Olympian birthplace gets to the North Pole. Maaninka won a bronze medal in the 5,000 metres and a silver medal in the 10,000 metres at the 1980 Olympics. Maaninka was born 25 December 1953 in Posio, Lapland in Finland. Lapland, as you surely know, is at 67° north latitude, and only about 5,230 km (3,230 miles) from Santa’s Workshop.

Kaarlo Maaninka leads the 5000m in Moscow 1980
Kaarlo Maaninka leads the 5000m in Moscow 1980

Maaninka was a forestry technician and foreman in the Great White North. It is not known if some of the trees he harvested ended up in toys for all the good little girls and boys around the world. He was Finnish Champion in the 10K in 1979, and on the roads, won the Finnish 15 km title in 1978-80. He competed at two European Cups and earned 13 caps in all. His personal bests were as follows: 1,500 – 3:46.80 (1980); 3,000 – 7:58.0 (1980); 5,000 – 13:22.0 (1980); 10,000 – 27:44.28 (1980); Marathon – 2-18:27.4 (1978).

So Happy Birthday to Kaarlo Maaninka and to all the 324 other Olympians born on this day. Merry Christmas to all, and from the OlympStats team, to all a good night for 2015.

Teams suspended from Olympic competition

In November, it was announced that no Bulgarian weightlifters will compete at the Rio 2016 Olympics, as a punishment for an excessive amount of doping positives among Bulgarian lifters. Such a suspension is not unique, but – fortunately – still relatively rare. We’ll take a look at other exclusions in Olympic history.

Just look at Bulgaria’s Olympic weightlifting history already reveals a few similar cases. In 1988, the team withdrew after two gold medallists (Mitko Grabnev and Angel Genchev) had tested positive for doping. Twelve years later, three Bulgarian medallists, including gold medallist Izabela Dragneva, were caught with performance enhancing drugs, which was followed by a suspension of the rest of the weightlifting team. In 2008, Bulgaria chose not to compete in the Olympics, with no less than 11 national team members facing doping suspensions in the run-up to the Games. Those low points are now followed by a suspension ahead of the Games.

One of the players in Bulgaria’s tainted Olympic weightlifting past: Izabela Dragneva.

Another group of athletes possibly facing suspension are the Russian track and field athletes. Following a recent report by WADA, the International Assocation of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has supended Russian athletes from competing internationally. Depending on how quick they can reform, they may also miss the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

A similar exclusion came in 1988, when Mexico was banned by the international football federation (FIFA), after they were found to have knowingly used at least four players over the age limit in an U20 tournament. All Mexican representative teams were banned for a period of two years, including the Olympic team that had already qualified for Seoul. They were replaced by Guatemala.

Another age-related suspension was handed out in 2010 by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG). In gymnastics, there is a minimum age for competitors, and North Korea was found to have submitted false birth dates for at least two competitors. They were suspended from international competition for two years, which included the 2012 London Games.

In the past, it has happened several times that nations were not allowed to compete at the Olympics. The first such occasion came in 1920. Despite the fact that Olympic renovator Pierre de Coubertin was not in favor, the (perceived) aggressors of World War I – Austria, Germany, Hungary and Turkey – were not invited. The Germans were not invited in 1924 either, leaving them to return on the Olympic podium only in St. Moritz 1928. Twenty years later, Germany could also not enter the Olympics. Following World War II, the country had been divided by the four allied nations, and the German National Olympic Committee therefore did not formally represent any recognized nation. However, Japan was not allowed to compete in the 1948 Games either, suggestion this formal reason might merely have been an excuse to not invite the war aggressors.

Activist Dennis Brutus campaigned for Apartheid-era South Africa to be banned from the Olympics – with eventual success.

The 1964 Olympics were marked by the suspension of the South African NOC, a year earlier. The South African NOC did not allow mixed-race competition, which was in conflict with the IOC’s non-discrimination policies. In 1970, South Africa was expelled from the International Olympic Committee and only reinstated in 1992. A similar fate befell Rhodesia – present-day Zimbabwe – when its invitation for the 1972 Olympics was revoked shortly before the opening ceremony, and the NOC was suspended. Most African nations did not recognize the (white) Ian Smith regime, and threatened to boycott the Munich Games if the nation were allowed to compete. Rhodesian athletes had already missed the 1968 Olympics when strict interpretation of passport rules meant they could not enter Mexico. Competitors from Taiwan suffered from the same issue in 1976, when they were unable to enter Canada.

Following the break-up of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, a United Nations resolution prohibited teams representing that country at sports events. Individual athletes were allowed to compete, and so the IOC created Individual Olympic Participants, allowing such athletes to take part in Barcelona 1992.

In 1999, the Taliban-ruled Afghanistan was suspended from competition, among others for not allowing women to compete in sports. As of 2012, four Afghan women have competed in the Olympics.

In more recent years, several National Olympic Committees have been suspended by the IOC for not abiding by the rules of the Olympic Charter. Frequently, this concerns government intervention in the NOC, but there may be other reasons. Such suspensions include:

  • Venezuela in 1993
  • Iraq in 2003-2004
  • Panama in 2007-2008
  • Kuwait in 2010-2012 and again in 2015-present
  • Ghana in 2011

Two such suspensions had effects on a nation’s participation in the Olympics. Afghanistan was banned in 1999, causing them to miss the 2000 Olympics – although the Taliban probably couldn’t care less. In 2013, India was also suspended, forcing one of its athletes to compete as an Individual Olympic Athlete during the first week of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. The suspension was lifted during the second week, allowing the remaining two competitors to contest their events under the Indian flag.

Luger Shiva Keshavan was forced to compete as an independent athlete in Sochi 2014, as his nation’s NOC (India) had been suspended.

Back in 1962, the Indonesian NOC had also been suspended by the IOC, as they had refused to allow athletes from Taiwan and Israel compete in the Asian Games. Angered by the fact that France and the US (which had refused to allow competitors from East Germany) were not suspended, Indonesian President Sukarno created the Games of the New Emerging Forces (GANEFO). Held in 1963, the IOC banned all athletes that had competed at these Games, which caused Indonesia and North Korea to withdraw from the Tokyo Olympics, even if they were allowed to enter athletes who hadn’t contested the GANEFO. North Korea competed again in the second (and last) edition of the GANEFO (1966), which meant they were suspended by the IOC, causing the nation to miss the 1968 Olympics as well.

Year Country Reason
1920 Germany Not invited as WWI aggressor nation
1920 Austria Not invited as WWI aggressor nation
1920 Hungary Not invited as WWI aggressor nation
1920 Turkey Not invited as WWI aggressor nation
1924 Germany Not invited as WWI aggressor nation
1948 Germany Not invited as WWII aggressor nation (no formal NOC)
1948 Japan  Not invited as WWII aggressor nation
1964 South Africa Suspended by IOC
1968 North Korea Suspended by IOC
1968 South Africa Suspended by IOC
1968 Rhodesia Could not enter host nation
1972 Rhodesia Invitation revoked
1976 Rhodesia Suspended by IOC
1976 Taiwan Could not enter host nation
1988 Mexico (football) Suspended by IF
2000 Afghanistan Suspended by IOC
2012 North Korea (gymnastics) Suspended by IF
2014 India Suspended by IOC
2016 Bulgaria (weightlifting) Suspended by IF