Parent Child Olympic Medalists

This morning Austrian Matthias Mayer won the men’s downhill, the blue riband event of Alpine skiing. Also noted is that his father, Helmut Mayer, won a silver medal in Super-G back in 1988 at Calgary. Has it ever happened before that a parent/child have both won Olympic medals? By now, do you think we’d ask that if it hadn’t happened?

OK, this is a difficult query for our database, so we should be a little cautious with the numbers. But we found 148 examples of a parent and a child both winning an Olympic medal. Now if we limit this to both winning an individual medal, this limits it a great deal – this has only happened 23 times. And if we limit it to the same individual event, this has only happened 7 times, and only once at the Winter Olympics. In fact, the Mayers (Matthias/Helmut) became only the second example of parent/children medalists in any individual events at the Winter Olympics.

There are a couple other examples in combative sports (boxing, wrestling, etc.), where you could consider slightly different weight classes as the same event, but here are the 7 times a parent and child have both medaled in the same Olympic event (considering men/women analogues as the same event):

  • Oscar Swahn and his son, Alfred Swahn, both Sweden, won medals in both running target and running target, double shot events. In fact, they both won gold medals in running target (single shot), the only example of a parent/child winning gold medals in the same individual event. Oscar won gold in running target in 1908 and Alfred in 1912.
  • Jack Kelly (USA) and his son, Jack, Jr., both won medals in single sculls rowing. The father won a gold in 1920 while Jack Jr took bronze in 1956.
  • Americans Pat McCormick and her daughter, Kelly, both won medals in springboard diving. Pat famously won golds in 1952-56 in both springboard and platform, while Kelly won a silver (1984) and a bronze (1988) on the springboard.
  • Soviet Aleksandr Makarov and his son, Sergey (RUS), both won medals in the javelin throw. Aleksandr won a silver in 1980, while Sergey won two bronzes in the event, in 2000-04.
  • Myriam Jerusalmi-Fox and her daughter, Jess Fox, both won medals in kayak slalom. Notably, they did it for different countries – Jerusalmi-Fox winning a bronze for France in 1996, and Jess Fox winning a silver for Australia in 2012.
  • Another cross-national example is one of the two father-daughter examples. This is Valery Lyukin, who won a gymnastics silver in the 1988 individual all-around for the Soviet Union, while his daughter, Nastia Liukin, won gold in that event (women’s version) for the United States in 2008.
  • The other father-daughter example is the only time this has happened at the Winter Olympics. In 1968, Odd Martinsen (NOR) won a silver medal in the men’s 30 km cross-country race, while in 2002, his daughter, Bente Skari-Martinsen, won bronze in the same event for women.

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