Golden Slams in Tennis

In some sports an Olympic title can be part of a greater achievement. In this blog we’ve already featured ice hockey’s Triple Gold Club and basketball’s Triple Crown winners but tennis also has its’ ultimate challenge – the Golden Slam.
The Golden slam consists of winning the 4 major championships, the Australian, French and US Opens as well as Wimbledon and an Olympic gold medal. It was never achieved during tennis’s original tenure as an Olympic sport (because of the French tournament being restricted to members of French clubs before 1925) but, since the sport returned to the Olympic fold in 1988, a dozen men and women have performed the feat in a mixture of singles and doubles.

Men’s singles

Athlete Nation(s) Olympics Australia French Wimbledon USA
Andre Agassi USA 1996 4 wins 1 win 1 win 2 wins
Rafael Nadal ESP 2008 1 win 9 wins 2 wins 2 wins

Men’s doubles

Athlete Nation(s) Olympics Australia French Wimbledon USA
Bob Bryan USA 2012 6 wins 2 wins 3 wins 4 wins
Mike Bryan USA 2012 6 wins 2 wins 3 wins 4 wins
Daniel Nestor CAN 2000 1 win 4 wins 2 wins 1 win
Todd Woodbridge AUS 1996 3 wins 1 win 9 wins 3 wins
Mark Woodforde AUS 1996 2 wins 1 win 6 wins 3 wins

Women’s singles

Athlete Nation(s) Olympics Australia French Wimbledon USA
Steffi Graf FRG/GER 1988 4 wins 6 wins 7 wins 5 wins
Serena Williams USA 2012 5 wins 2 wins 5 wins 5 wins

Steffi Graf (right of picture)

Women’s doubles

Athlete Nation(s) Olympics Australia French Wimbledon USA
Gigi Fernandez PUR/USA 1992/1996 2 wins 6 wins 4 wins 5 wins
Pam Shriver USA 1988 7 wins 3 wins 5 wins 5 wins
Serena Williams USA 2000/2008/2012 4 wins 2 wins 5 wins 2 wins
Venus Williams USA 2000/2008/2012 4 wins 2 wins 5 wins 2 wins

Williams sisters

Mixed doubles
Closest approach which includes an Olympic title is that of Vika Azarenko and Max Mirnyi of Belarus with Olympic, Wimbledon and US Open titles and an appearance in the final at the Australian Open.
Daniela Hantuchová has won all 4 major titles but did not compete in the event at the 2012 Olympics.

Serena Williams is unique in achieving this feat as both a singles and doubles player and has a record 34 wins across all five championships and both disciplines. Steffi Graf is the only player to win all 5 tournaments in the same calendar year whilst the Bryan brothers have also held all 5 titles at the same time although, in their case, it was spread over 2012 and 2013. Two of the premiere players of recent years, Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova, still need an Olympic singles gold to complete their set.

100 Years Ago Today

On 28 June 1914, 100 years ago today, the inciting incident which led to World War I, occurred. This was the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo, Bosnia. World War I is considered to have officially started one month later, 28 July, when Austro-Hungary officially declared war on Serbia.

Although there had been only 5 celebrations of the Olympic Games to that date (6 if you count 1906), many of the Olympic athletes served in the military during the war and some of them did not return.

Canadian doctor-soldier John McCrae penned the poem “In Flanders Fields” in memory of the brave men who lost their lives in what has been called The Great War, as if any war could be great. McCrae wrote:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

In their memory, here are the 131 Olympians that we have been able to identify as being killed, died, or missing in action as a result of World War I. RIP.

Olympian NOC Sport Era Fate
Andrey Akimov RUS FTB 1912 †1916. Killed during World War I.
Gordon Alexander GBR FEN 1912 †24 April 1917. Killed in action during World War I.
Laurie Anderson GBR ATH 1912 †9 November 1914. Killed in action while serving with the Cheshire Regiment.
William Anderson GBR ATH 1906 †April 1915. Killed in action in France.
Henry Ashington GBR ATH 1912 †31 January 1917. Killed in action in France.
Louis Bach FRA FTB 1900 †16 September 1914. Killed in action.
Fritz Bartholomae GER ROW 1912 †12 September 1915. Killed in action during World War I.
Georg Baumann RUS WRE 1912 Missing-in-action during World War I but date and place not known.
Béla Békessy HUN FEN 1912 †6 July 1916. Killed in action during World War I.
Isaac Bentham GBR WAP 1912 †15 May 1917. Killed in action during Battle of Arras.
Renon Boissière FRA ATH 1912 †25 September 1915. Killed in action in World War I.
Henri Bonnefoy FRA SHO 1908 †19 August 1914. Killed in action during World War I.
Hermann von Bönninghausen GER ATH 1908-12 †26 January 1919. Died from wounds from being shot in the face in World War I.
Hermann Bosch GER FTB 1912 †16 July 1916. Killed in action in World War I.
Jean Bouin FRA ATH 1908-12 †29 September 1914. Killed in action by friendly fire.
Hanns Braun GER ATH 1908-12 †9 October 1918. Died as a fighter pilot near Saint-Quentin; Aisne; France in World War I.
Karl Braunsteiner AUT FTB 1912 †19 April 1916. Died as a prisoner of war.
Kurt Bretting GER SWI 1912 †30 May 1918. Killed in action during World War I.
Heinrich Burkowitz GER ATH 1912 †November 1918. Missing in action in November 1918 somewhere in Belgium.
Edmund Bury GBR RAQ 1908 †5 December 1915. With the 11th Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps he was killed in action in France during World War I and is buried in Rue-Petillon Military Cemetery in Fleurbaix.
George Butterfield GBR ATH 1908 †24 September 1917. Killed in action in France.
Oswald Carver GBR ROW 1908 †7 June 1915. With the 1st/2nd East Lancashire Royal Engineers he was killed in action in Turkey in World War I and is buried in the Lancashire Landing Cemetery.
Joseph Caullé FRA ATH 1912 †1 October 1915. Killed in action during World War I.
Ralph Chalmers GBR FEN 1908 †8 May 1915. Killed in action during World War I.
Noel Chavasse GBR ATH 1908 †4 August 1917. He is one of only three men to have been awarded a bar to the Victoria Cross. Serving as a captain in the RAMC he was first awarded the VC in 1916 and a bar posthumously in 1917.
Geoffrey Coles GBR SHO 1908 †27 January 1916. Killed in action during World War I.
André Corvington HAI FEN 1900 †13 December 1918. Killed in action in World War I near Reims.
Percy Courtman GBR SWI 1908-12 †2 June 1917. Part of 6th Battalion Manchester Regiment he was killed in action in World War I. Buried at Neuville-Bourjonval British Cemetery.
Harry Crank GBR DIV 1908 †22 October 1917. Killed in action near Ypres Belgium.
Robert Davies GBR SHO 1912 †9 September 1916. A member of the 1st/9th Batallion; London Regiment (Queen Victoria's Rifles) he was killed in action in the Somme in France in World War I.
Louis de Champsavin FRA EQU 1900 †20 December 1916. Killed in action during World War I.
Felix Debax FRA FEN 1900 †25 August 1914. Killed in action in World War I.
Alex Decouteau CAN ATH 1912 †17 October 1917. Killed in action in the Battle of Passchendale.
Oszkár Demján HUN SWI 1912 †4 September 1914. Killed in action during World War I.
Charles Devendeville FRA SWI/WAP 1900 †19 September 1914. Killed in action.
Karl Baron von Diepurg GER IOC 1909-14 †25 October 1914. Killed in action during World War I.
Joseph Dines GBR FTB 1912 †27 September 1918. He was killed in Pas de Calais as a second lieutenant on the Western front during World War I.
Jimmy Duffy CAN ATH 1912 †23 April 1915. In September 1913 he joined the Canadian Army and was assigned to the 91st Argyle Regiment. On 23 April 1915 he was fatally wounded near Ypres Belgium.
Hugh Durant GBR MOP/SHO 1912 †21 January 1916. With the 9th Queen's Royal Lancers he was killed in action in France in World War I and is buried in the Vermelles British Cemetery.
George Fairbairn GBR ROW 1908 †20 June 1915. Killed in action in the Somme in France during World War I.
René Fenouillière FRA FTB 1908 †4 November 1916. Killed in action during World War I.
Léon Flameng FRA CYC 1896 †2 January 1917. Killed in action during World War I.
Alfred Flaxman GBR ATH 1908 †1 July 1916. Killed in an attack on the enemy positions at Gommecourt.
Bert Gayler GBR CYC 1912 †23 June 1917. Killed by rifle fire during an ambush in a valley near Kotkai Bozi Khel.
Bernhard von Gaza GER ROW 1908 †25 September 1917. Killed in action during World War I in Belgium.
Thomas Gillespie GBR ROW 1912 †18 October 1914. A lieutenant with the King's Own Scottish Borderers he was killed in action in France in World War I and is buried in Le Touret Memorial.
Henry Goldsmith GBR ROW 1908 †9 May 1915. Killed in action at Fromelles.
Lajos Gönczy HUN ATH 1900-06 †4 December 1915. Killed in action in area of Galicia and Lodomeria.
Carl Heinrich Goßler GER ROW 1900 †9 September 1914. Killed in action during World War I.
Wyndham Halswelle GBR ATH 1906-08 †31 March 1915. Killed by a sniper's bullet in France.
George Hawkins GBR ATH 1908 †22 September 1917. During World War I he served as a Gunner with the Royal Artillery and was killed in action when a shell exploded in the doorway of a dugout while he was on outpost duty.
Harold Hawkins GBR SHO 1908 †16 June 1917. Reported missing between Bullecourt and Croisilles. When last seen he was wounded; lying in a very forward position; which unfortunately had to be abandoned.
Cecil Healy ANZ/AUS SWI 1906-12 †29 August 1918. Killed in action in World War I.
Max Herrmann GER ATH 1912 †29 January 1915. Killed in action in World War I.
George Hutson GBR ATH 1912 †14 September 1914. Killed in action only five weeks after the outbreak of World War I.
Albert Jenicot FRA FTB 1908 †22 February 1916. An under-lieutenant with the 165th Regiment D Infantry he was killed in action in World War I.
Walther Jesinghaus GER GYM 1912 †1918. Killed in action during World War I.
Ernest Keeley RSA SHO 1912 †23 July 1918. A 2nd lieutenant with the 4th Regiment (South African Infantry Unit) he was killed in action in World War I and is buried in the Ploegsteert Memorial.
Frederick Kelly GBR ROW 1908 †13 November 1916. Killed in action during World War I.
Paul Kenna GBR EQU 1912 †30 August 1915. Killed in action at the Battle of Gallipoli.
Alister Kirby GBR ROW 1912 †29 March 1917. Served as a captain in the Rifle Brigade and died from illness in 1917.
Frederick Kitching GBR ATH 1908 †1914. Killed in action in World War I.
Adolf Kofler AUT CYC 1912 †13 April 1915. Killed in action during World War I.
Nikolay Kynin RUS FTB 1912 †1916. Killed during World War I.
Ivan Laing GBR HOK 1908 †30 November 1917. With the 2nd Battalion; Coldstream Guards he was killed in action in France during World War I and is buried in Metz-en-Couture Communal Cemetery; British Extension.
Octave Lapize FRA CYC 1908 †14 July 1917. Killed when his plane was shot down near Verdun.
Béla von Las-Torres HUN SWI 1908-12 †13 October 1915. Killed in action in Italy during World War I.
Henry Leeke GBR ATH 1908 †29 May 1915. Killed in action on the eve of his battalion's departure for Gallipoli.
Erich Lehmann GER ATH 1912 †9 July 1918. Listed as missing in action in World War I.
Feliks Leparsky RUS FEN 1912 †10 January 1917. Killed in action in World War I.
Bertrand Count de Lesseps FRA FEN 1908 †28 August 1918. Killed in action during World War I.
Ismaël de Lesseps FRA FEN 1908 †30 September 1915. Killed in action during World War I.
Eduard von Lütcken GER EQU 1912 †15 September 1914. Killed in action during World War I.
Georges Lutz FRA CYC 1908 †31 January 1915. Killed in action in World War I.
Willy Lützow GER SWI 1912 †1916. Killed in action during World War I.
William Lyshon USA WRE 1912 †13 October 1918. Killed in the final days of World War I.
Duncan Mackinnon GBR ROW 1908 †9 October 1917. Killed in action at Ypres in the Battle of Passchendaele.
Gilchrist Maclagan GBR ROW 1908 †25 April 1915. Killed in action in Pilckem Ridge at the Second Battle of Ypres.
Leopold Mayer AUT SWI 1906 †21 September 1914. Killed in action during World War I.
Alphonse Meignant FRA ROW 1912 †4 November 1914. Killed at First Battle of Ypres during World War I.
Robert Merz AUT FTB 1912 †30 August 1914. Killed in action during World War I.
Georg Mickler GER ATH 1912 †14 June 1915. Killed in action during World War I somewhere in Poland.
Felice Milano (DNS) ITA FTB 1912 †11 November 1915. Killed at the Fourth Battle of the Isonzo during World War I.
Percival Molson CAN ATH 1904 †5 July 1917. Killed in action when hit by mortar fire while attempting to rescue a fallen friend on the outskirts of Avignon France.
Alfred Motté FRA ATH 1908-12 †31 October 1918. Killed in action in World War I.
István Mudin HUN ATH 1906-08 †22 July 1918. Killed in action during World War I.
Edward Nash GBR EQU 1912 †21 February 1915. Killed in action during World War I.
Georges de la Nézière FRA ATH 1896 †9 October 1914. Killed in action during World War I.
Grigory Nikitin RUS FTB 1912 †1917. Killed during World War I.
Harcourt Ommundsen GBR SHO 1908-12 †19 September 1915. A Lieutenant in the Honourable Artillery Company when he was killed at the Battle of Ieper in World War I.
Alan Patterson GBR ATH 1908-12 †14 March 1916. Commissioned into the Royal Field Artillery he was killed in action only two days after his 30th birthday.
Árpád Pédery HUN GYM 1912 †21 October 1914. Killed in action during World War I.
Jacques Person GER ATH 1912 †15 July 1915. From Alsace; killed in action in Flanders as a member of the "7. Thüringische Infanterie Regiment Nr. 96".
William Philo GBR BOX 1908 †7 July 1916. Killed in World War I during the battle of the Somme in France.
Hermann Plaskuda GER FEN 1912 †21 March 1918. Killed in action in World War II. His grave is in the war cemetary in St. Quentin France.
Léon Ponscarme FRA CYC 1900 †24 November 1916. Killed in action in World War I in Verdun.
Kenneth Powell GBR ATH/TEN 1908-12 †18 February 1915. Killed in action while serving as a private in the HAC.
Friedrich Karl Prince von Preußen GER EQU 1912 †6 April 1917. During a flight on 21 March 1917 he was forced to land with a bullet in his engine and a slight wound to his foot. He landed his Albatros aircraft in no-man's land but while running towards his own lines he was severely wounded in the back by Australian troops. He was taken into Australian war captivity where he died from his injuries on 6 April 1917 at Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray.
Reggie Pridmore GBR HOK 1908 †13 March 1918. Served as a major in the Royal Horse & Field Artillery winning a Military Cross on the Somme before being killed in action in Italy.
Joseph Racine FRA CYC 1912 †28 October 1914. With the 113th Regiment Infantry he was killed in action in World War I.
Thomas Raddall GBR SHO 1908 †9 August 1918. With the 8th Battalion Canadian Infantry Manitoba Regiment he was killed in action in France in World War I and is buried in the Manitoba Cemetery in Caix.
Maurice Raoul-Duval FRA POL 1900 †5 May 1916. Killed in action during World War I.
Josef Rieder GER CYC 1912 †13 July 1916. Killed in action during World War I.
John Robinson GBR HOK 1908 †23 August 1916. Commissioned into the North Staffordshire Regiment he was soon promoted to captain but died from injuries received in the Mesopotamian campaign.
Patrick Roche GBR ATH 1908 †7 June 1917. A lieutenant in the Royal Engineers he won an MC in World War I and was later killed in action.
Albert Rowland ANZ ATH 1908 †23 July 1918. Killed in action during the Second Battle of The Marne.
Marius Royet (DNS) FRA FTB 1908 †1915. Killed during World War I.
Maurice Salomez FRA ATH 1900 †7 August 1916. Killed in action in World War I.
Ronald Sanderson GBR ROW 1908 †17 April 1918. Killed in action near Ypres.
Heinrich Schneidereit GER TOW/WLT 1906 †30 September 1915. Killed in action as an artillery officer in France during World War I.
André Six FRA SWI 1900 †1914. Killed in action.
Pierre Six FRA FTB 1908 †7 July 1916. Killed in action during World War I.
Michel Soalhat FRA ATH 1906 †25 September 1915. Killed in action in World War I.
Robert Somers-Smith GBR ROW 1908 †1 July 1916. Killed in action on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
Geoffrey Taylor CAN ROW 1908-12 †24 April 1915. Missing; presumed killed; during the Second Battle of Ypres.
Felix Tekusch (DNS) AUT FTB 1912 †21 May 1916. Killed in action during World War I.
Waldemar Tietgens GER ROW 1900 †28 July 1917. Killed in action during World War I.
Dragutin Tomašević SRB ATH 1912 †1915. Killed in action during World War I in Serbia
Justin Vialaret FRA FTB 1908 †30 September 1916. Killed in action in World War I.
Charles Vigurs GBR GYM 1908-12 †22 February 1917. With the 11th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment he was killed in action in France in World War I and is buried in the Maroc British Cemetery in Grenay.
Amon Ritter von Gregurich HUN FEN 1900 †28 June 1915. Killed in action during World War I.
Edmond Wallace FRA FEN 1900 †18 August 1915. Killed in action in World War I.
Rudolf Watzl AUT WRE 1906 †15 August 1915. Died from illness during World War I.
Arthur Wear USA TEN 1904 †6 November 1918. As a result of refusing to obtain proper treatment for a probable perforated duodenal ulcer; he died; still commanding his battalion; during the Meuse-Argonne fighting.
Arthur Wilde GBR SHO 1908 †21 January 1916. With the 1st/6th Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment he was killed in action in World War I and is buried in the Arras Memorial.
Tony Wilding ANZ TEN 1912 †9 May 1915. Joined the British army and was leading an armoured car unit when he was killed at Aubers Ridge during the Battle of Neuve-Chapelle.
Victor Willems BEL FEN 1908-12 †1918. Killed in action during World War I.
Edward Williams GBR ROW 1908 †12 August 1915. With the 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards he was killed in action in France in World War I and is buried in the St. Venant Communal Cemetery.
Herbert Wilson GBR POL 1908 †11 April 1917. Was a captain with the Royal Horse Guards near Arras. Died in the preliminary skirmishes leading up to the Battle of Paschendaele in Ypres Belgium.
Richard Yorke GBR ATH 1908-12 †22 December 1914. Killed in action in World War I while serving as a sergeant in the London Scottish.
Béla Zulawszky HUN FEN 1908-12 †24 October 1914. Killed in action during World War I.

The Vuarnet and Bonlieu Families

Metal Skis, Bar Fights, Cults, Suicides, and Sunglasses

Category Data
Full Name Jean Raoul Célina André Vuarnet
Used Name Jean Vuarnet
Born 18 January 1938; Bardo (TUN)
Affiliations Skiclub de Morzine
Year-Season Sport Event Finish Medal
1960 Winter Alpine Skiing Downhill 1 Gold
Category Data
Full name François Bonlieu
Born 21 March 1937; Juvincourt-et-Damary; Aisne (FRA)
Died 18 August 1973; Cannes; Alpes-Maritimes (FRA)
Affiliations CR Mont Blanc
Year-Season Sport Event Finish Medal
1956 Winter Alpine Skiing Giant Slalom 9
1960 Winter Alpine Skiing Giant Slalom 11
Slalom DQ Run 2/2
1964 Winter Alpine Skiing Downhill 15
Giant Slalom 1 Gold
Slalom DQ Run 1/2
Category Data
Full Name Marie Edith Bonlieu (-Vuarnet)
Used Name Edith Bonlieu
Born 18 September 1934
Died 22 December 1995; Vercors; Isère (FRA)
Year-Season Sport Event Finish Medal
1956 Winter Alpine Skiing Downhill DNF

The Vuarnet family has known the best of times and the worst of times. Jean Vuarnet first featured internationally when he won a bronze medal in the downhill at the 1958 World Championships. He was a pioneer downhiller, as he was really the first to use a deep tucked position, emphasizing its aerodynamic advantages. In 1960, he used the position to win the gold medal in the downhill at Squaw Valley, the only Olympic event in which he competed. Vuarnet also skied that year on Rossignol metal skis, and was the first skier to win a major championship using metal skis.

Jean Vuarnet

After the Olympics, Vuarnet endorsed a brand of sunglasses that took his name, and Vuarnet Sunglasses later became among the world’s most popular brands. He also spent time as a sports administrator with the French Skiing Association from 1962-71.

In 1958, Vuarnet had married Edith Bonlieu, who competed at the 1956 Olympics. Her brother was François Bonlieu, who had a much more extensive Olympic ski career than either his sister or Vuarnet. François Bonlieu competed at the 1956, 1960 and 1964 Winter Olympics, competing in 6 events and winning the gold medal in giant slalom at the 1964 Innsbruck Olympics.

François Bonlieu became a member of the French ski team when he was only 15 years old. In 1954, when only 17, he won a silver medal in the giant slalom at the World Championships in Aare. In 1958, Bonlieu added a World bronze medal at the championships in Bad Gastein, Austria. He was also a two-time slalom winner at the Arlberg-Kandahar, in 1959 and 1963, and was a three-time French national champion. François Bonlieu eventually was killed in a fight in Cannes on the Promenade de la Croisette, after an argument, at only 36-years-old.

Edith Bonlieu-Vuarnet was a three-time French champion. She competed in the downhill at the 1956 Winter Olympics, but did not finish the race. Bonlieu-Vuarnet and their youngest son, Patrick, later joined the Order of the Solar Temple cult, known in France as the Ordre du Temple Solaire. The Order of the Solar Temple was founded in 1984 by Joseph Di Mambro and Luc Jouret in Genève, Switzerland. The goals of the order were to establish the correct notions of authority and power in the world, affirm the primacy of the spiritual over the temporal, prepare for the Second Coming of Christ as a solar god-king, and assist in the unification of all Christian churches and Islam.

In 1994-95, the cult carried out mass suicides in several Swiss and French villages. The bodies were found in mass graves, dressed in ceremonial robes, lying in a circle, feet at the center, with plastic bags over their heads, and bullet wounds to the heads. Edith Bonlieu-Vuarnet and her son, Patrick Vuarnet, were among those who took their own lives.

The Undefeated Olympians

They never lost. Not once. Not when the odds were against them, not when somebody else was favored, not when the weather was bad, not when they caught a bad break along the way, not when they were not feeling so well that day. They simply never lost. They are the undefeated Olympians.

Twenty-one (21) Olympians have won 4 or more gold medals, while going undefeated at the Olympics, winning in every event in which they competed. The list is below but it deserves some closer examination.

First of all, it’s almost evenly divided – there are 10 women and 11 men on the list. But it is not evenly divided by Olympics, as only Canadian ice hockey player Caroline Ouellette has ever done this at the Winter Olympics, a feat she accomplished in Sochi with her fourth consecutive gold medal (with thanx to NBCOlympicTalk’s Nick Zaccardi for spotting this  – and inspiring this stat post)

Caroline Ouellette

Secondly, most people did this spread out over several Olympics. Only American tracksters Alvin Kraenzlein (1900) and Jesse Owens (1936) and East German swimmer Kristin Otto (1988) accomplished this at a single Olympics, with Otto winning six gold medals in 1988. Six on this list took four Olympics to pull this off – Ray Ewry (1900-08), Rudolf Kárpáti (1948-60), Al Oerter (1956-68), Lisa Leslie (1996-2008), Matthew Pinsent (1992-2004), and Ouellette (2002-14).


Al Oerter

Topping the list is Ray Ewry, and you could quibble and say that that includes 1906, but even if we skip 1906, he tops the list with 8 gold medals in 8 events in which he competed – all standing jumps.


Ray Ewry

Next comes Otto and Hungarian fencer Kárpáti with their six gold medals, followed by two names on the list that you may not have suspected, who won five gold medals – American shooter Bud Fisher, who competed in 1920-24, and Russian synchro swimmer Anastasiya Davydova, who competed 2004-12.

If we limit this list to undefeated in four individual events only, six names remain, five Americans and Otto. Ewry still leads the list with 10, or 8 if you are picky, followed by five athletes with 4 individual gold medals in 4 events – Kraenzlein (ATH; 1900), Oerter (ATH; 1956-68), Otto (SWI; 1988), Archie Hahn (ATH; 1904-06), and Pat McCormick (DIV; 1952-56).

G IG Name Gdr Ssn NOC Sport
10 10 Ray Ewry M S USA ATH
6 4 Kristin Otto F S GDR SWI
6 2 Rudolf Kárpáti M S HUN FEN
5 2 Bud Fisher M S USA SHO
5 0 Anastasiya Davydova F S RUS SYN
4 4 Archie Hahn M S USA ATH
4 4 Al Kraenzlein M S USA ATH
4 4 Pat McCormick F S USA DIV
4 4 Al Oerter M S USA ATH
4 3 Jesse Owens M S USA ATH
4 2 Chen Ruolin F S CHN DIV
4 2 Deng Yaping F S CHN TTN
4 2 Harrison Dillard M S USA ATH
4 2 Bärbel Eckert-Wöckel F S GDR ATH
4 2 Jenő Fuchs M S HUN FEN
4 2 Viktor Krovopuskov M S URS FEN
4 2 Zhang Yining F S CHN TTN
4 0 Lisa Leslie F S USA BAS
4 0 Caroline Ouellette F W CAN ICH
4 0 Matthew Pinsent M S GBR ROW
4 0 Anastasiya Yermakova F S RUS SYN

Quite a list containing many of the greatest Olympians ever. Bob Barney, Canadian Olympic historian, likes to end some of his tributes to athletes or scholars, by stating, “All honor to his/her name.” In this case, no finer acclamation could be given, so I’ll borrow from Bob. All honor to their names.

Wendell Anderson

Ice hockey player, silver medalist, governor, senator, lawyer

Full Name       Wendell Richard Anderson

Used Name    Wendell Anderson

Born                   1 February 1933; Saint Paul, Minnesota (USA)

Year-Games Sport Place Medal
1956 Winter Ice hockey 2 Silver

Wendell Anderson played for the University of Minnesota, graduating in 1954, and won a silver medal in the 1956 Olympics, but his greatest fame came outside of sports. After the Olympics, Anderson entered the army where he spent the next two years. After his discharge he entered the University of Minnesota Law School, receiving an LL.B. in 1960. From then until 1970 he had a busy law practice in Minnesota, but he also became active in politics.
In 1962 Anderson was elected to the Minnesota Senate, and served until 1970. On 3 November 1970, Anderson was elected governor of Minnesota by a comfortable margin. He was re-elected governor in 1974 in a landslide victory. While in office, he expressed his concern for the environment and the family farmer by his support for new laws. He also signed into law several bills concerning judicial reform, and bills reforming existing laws on alcohol and drug use. In addition, in the inaugural World Hockey Association (WHA) draft of 1972, Anderson was drafted by the Minnesota Fighting Saints as a publicity stunt. He chose to remain governor.
With the election of Walter Mondale as Vice-President in 1976, Governor Anderson resigned to replace Mondale in the United States Senate. He served in the Senate until 29 December 1978, when he returned to the practice of law in Minnesota. From 1995-2001, Anderson was the director and head of the legal committee for Turbodyne Technologies in California.

National Abbreviations at the World Cup and Olympics

With the World Cup going on, some people have wondered about the 3-letter hashtags (#USA or #GER) used on twitter for the various competing nations. The first time that national identifying abbreviations formally appeared at the Olympics was in 1952 at Helsinki.  They were not used in the Official Report, but did appear in the Daily Programs from that year.  The abbreviations were not strictly of the 3-letter style.  A few had 4-letters (USSR, CHIN = China), while some had only 2-letters (Finland = SF, Saar = SR), and several had 2-letters separated by a dash (Czechoslovakia = T-S, Great Britain = G-B, Hong Kong = H-K, New Zealand = N-Z, Puerto Rico = P-R). They have varied greatly over the years – one can see the article on these in Journal of Olympic History (Mallon/Karlsson.  “IOC and OCOG Abbreviations for NOCs”. Journal of Olympic History 12 (2): 25–28, May 2004.)

But FIFA (the football federation) and the IAAF (the athletics federation) also have their own set of 3-letter abbreviations (3LA) – and they are not always the same.

The only time this has really come up at the World Cup is with Nigeria, which has a 3LA of NGR from the IOC and the IAAF, but is NGA per FIFA.

There are 269 “countries” recognized by the 3 organizations, although many are not technically nations, and some 30 of them are now defunct. The IOC has had 232 different recognized geo-political entities (GPEs), and currently recognizes 204 National Olympic Committees (NOCs). FIFA has recognized 239 abbreviations, and currently recognizes 209 GPEs, while the IAAF has had 216 abbreviations, with 212 GPEs currently recognized. In addition, over the years, some nations change their IOC 3LA – such as Saudi Arabia, which used to be SAU, but is now KSA (=Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), and Iran, which was originally IRN by the IOC, but later changed to IRI = Islamic Republic of Iran. There are several other such examples – all noted in the article referenced above. The former Czechoslovakia alone had 8 different abbreviations used by varying Olympic Organizing Committees – T-S, CZS, CSL, CZE, CSV, CS, CZS, and TCH; and this does not include CZE and SVK after the nation split into Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Currently, there are 198 GPEs recognized by the IOC, FIFA, and the IAAF. Of these 23 of them differ among the organizations. In 19 cases, the IOC and IAAF agree, but FIFA has a different 3LA, while in 4 cases, the IOC and FIFA agree but the IAAF has a different 3LA. There are also 5 cases of GPEs not recognized by all 3 organizations, but which have different 3LAs. The entire list is as follows:

Antigua & Barbuda ANT ATG ANT FIFA differs from IOC/IAAF
Bahrain BRN BHR BRN FIFA differs from IOC/IAAF
Barbados BAR BRB BAR FIFA differs from IOC/IAAF
Belize BIZ BLZ BIZ FIFA differs from IOC/IAAF
British Virgin Islands IVB VGB IVB FIFA differs from IOC/IAAF
Burkina Faso BUR BFA BUR FIFA differs from IOC/IAAF
Central African Republic CAF CTA CAF FIFA differs from IOC/IAAF
El Salvador ESA SLV ESA FIFA differs from IOC/IAAF
Equatorial Guinea GEQ EQG GEQ FIFA differs from IOC/IAAF
Guinea – Bissau GBS GNB GBS FIFA differs from IOC/IAAF
Indonesia INA IDN INA FIFA differs from IOC/IAAF
Iran IRI IRN IRI FIFA differs from IOC/IAAF
Latvia LAT LVA LAT FIFA differs from IOC/IAAF
Libya LBA LBY LBA FIFA differs from IOC/IAAF
Malawi MAW MWI MAW FIFA differs from IOC/IAAF
Nigeria NGR NGA NGR FIFA differs from IOC/IAAF
Palestine PLE PAL PLE FIFA differs from IOC/IAAF
Slovenia SLO SVN SLO FIFA differs from IOC/IAAF
United States Virgin Islands ISV VIR ISV FIFA differs from IOC/IAAF
Congo DR (Zaire) COD COD ZAI IAAF differs from IOC/FIFA
East Timor TLS TLS ETM IAAF differs from IOC/FIFA
Romania ROU ROU ROM IAAF differs from IOC/FIFA
Serbia SRB SRB SER IAAF differs from IOC/FIFA
Anguilla AIA ANG IOC does not recognize
Faeroe Islands FRO FAR IOC does not recognize
Marshall Islands MHL MSH FIFA does not recognize
Montserrat MSR MNT IOC does not recognize
Turks & Caicos Islands TCA TKS IOC does not recognize

Paralympians in the Olympics

Has anyone ever competed in both the Olympics and the Paralympics? You probably know us well enough by now to know the answer is yes, and most people assume we are referring only to Oscar Pistorius, the South African blade runner now on trial for the murder of his girlfriend. In fact, it has happened 14 times, although 3 were sighted guides at the Paralympics. The first ever was Neroli Fairhall, the New Zealand archer who competed at the 1980 Paralympics and the 1984 Olympic Games. Fairhall was a paraplegic after a motorbike accident, and competed as an archer from her wheelchair.

Here are the 13 Olympians / Paralympians:

Athlete NOC Sport Olympics Paralympics
Orazio Fagone ITA STK 1988-94 2006
Neroli Fairhall NZL ARC 1984 1980
Paola Fantato ITA ARC 1996 1988-2004
Assunta Legnante ITA ATH 2008 2012
Craig MacLean GBR CYC 2000-04 2012 (sighted guide)
Robin McKeever CAN CCS 1998 2010 (sighted guide)
Natalia Partyka POL TTN 2008-12 2000-12
Oscar Pistorius RSA ATH 2012 2004-12
Marla Runyan USA ATH 2000-04 1992-96
Jeroen Straathof NED CYC/SSK 1994-2004 2000 (sighted guide)
Pál Szekeres HUN FEN 1988 1992-2012
Natalie du Toit RSA SWI 2008 2004-12
Sonia Vettenburg BEL SHO 1992 1984-88
Ilke Wyludda GER ATH 1992-2000 2012

See also

The Unluckiest Olympians

In 2002 at Salt Lake City I was approached by Rick Reilly, the well-known Sports Illustrated writer, who asked me if I knew who had come the closest to winning medals without actually ever winning one. He wanted to know who had been the unluckiest Olympian. Unfortunately, our database was not as strong then as it is now and I was unable to give him a quick and easy answer.

But now we can answer that question for you – who has been the unluckiest Olympian. It depends slightly on how you define “unlucky” but we’ll offer you a couple choices.

  • If you want the Olympian without a medal and the most 4th places – that would be Mariya Itkina, an early Soviet-era sprinter who placed 4th four times at the Olympics, but never mounted the podium. Itkina was 4th in the 1956 4×100 metre relay, and three times in 1960 at Rome – in the 100 metres, the 200 metres, and the 4×100 relay again. She also finished 5th in the 400 at the 1964 Olympics. She only missed the top 5 once, failing to get past the heats in the 1956 200 metres.
  • Itkina was better at other meets. She was a four-time European Champion, winning gold in the 200 and 4×1 in 1954, and winning the 400 in both 1958 and 1965. She was a 17-time Soviet Champion, and won the 200 metres at the 1957 Universiade. She also set multiple world records, especially so with 7 in the 400 metres, an event that was fairly new for women in the 1950s.
  • If Itkina does not please you as a choice, how about Lisa Curry-Kenny, an Australian swimmer. Curry-Kenny also finished 4th or 5th in 5 Olympic events, as did Itkina. She was 4th in the 1984 200 IM and 4×100 free relay, while she finished 5th in the 1980 100 metre butterfly and 4×100 free relay, and in the 1992 4×100 medley relay. Curry-Kenny also claimed a 6th place in the 1980 medley relay. In all, Curry-Kenny competed in 13 Olympic events – 7 individual and 6 relays – at the 1980, 1984, and 1992 Olympics, but never mounted a podium. Shed no tears for Curry-Kenny, though. She was a 7-time gold medalist at the Commonwealth Games, and won 10 Commonwealth medals in all. She married Grant Kenny, an Ironman competitor who also competed at the Olympics in canoeing, and did bring the family an Olympic medal with a bronze in 1984 kayak doubles.
  • Lisa Curry-Kenny became a well-known Australian television personality and product spokesperson, and has received numerous awards for her career. She has been named a Member of the Order of the British Empire, is a member of Sport Australia Hall of Fame and the Queensland Sport Hall of Fame, has received the Medal of the Order of Australia, the Australian Sports Medal, the Centenary Medal, and at the 2008 Australian Day Honours, was made an Officer of the Order of Australia.
  • Danish badminton player Rikke Olsen also came close without mounting the Olympic podium. Olsen competed in 6 Olympic events, and finished 4th, or =5th (losing quarter-finalist), in all of them, all in doubles or mixed doubles. Maddeningly, she competed in three bronze medal matches (1996 women’s doubles, 2000 and 2004 mixed doubles) but lost all of them to finish 4th three times. Olsen was a nine-time Danish champion in doubles events, but internationally her major win was in the mixed at the 1995 Nordic Championships. She also never managed a World Championship medal, but did win three medals at the All-England Championships, a major championship in badminton.
  • Another option could be Tie Ya Na, a Hong Kong table tennis player. She competed in 6 Olympic events from 2004-2012 and finished =5th fully five times, although in table tennis, that means she was a losing quarter-finalist each of those times. Still a frustrating Olympic career. A native Chinese who emigrated to Hong Kong, she still competes as of 2014 and has won 9 medals at the World Championships, all in doubles or team events, but all silver and bronze, never managing a world title. Her biggest international victories have been at the Asian Games, with titles in mixed doubles in 2002 and the team event in 2005.
  • Going way back, we can also mention Greek shooter Frangiskos Mavrommatis, who competed at the Olympics in 1906, 1908, and 1912. Because of the plethora of shooting events in that era, Mavrommatis competed in 24 different Olympic events (1906-9, 1908-4, 1912-11). He finished 4th twice, 5th twice, and 6th twice, for 6 appearances in the top 6. But he never managed an Olympic medal.
  • At the Winter Games, we have two athletes who have finished in the top 6 six times at the Olympics, but never won a medal. Japanese short-track speed skater Satoru Terao finished 4th in the 1994 1,000 metres, 6th in the 2006 500 metres, and 5th four times – the 2002 500 metres, and the 5K relay in 1994, 1998, and 2002. Because of the wild nature of short-track, Terao was twice eliminated in preliminary rounds because of disqualifications or falls when he and another skater collided.
  • Marie Johansson-Risby was a Swedish cross-country skiier who had two 4th-place finishes – the 1976 4×5 km relay and the 1984 5 km; two 5th-place finishes – the 1984 20 km and 4×5 km relay; and two 6th-place finishes – the 1980 4×5 km relay and the 1984 10 km. But she never managed to win an Olympic medal. Johansson-Risby was a solid international competitor for years but was never quite at the highest level. She won one World Cup race in her career, a 5 km race in Finland in 1985, her final year in competition.

So there you have it. Great competitors all, but never had the luck to win an Olympic medal, despite coming close multiple times. Salute them for their great careers nonetheless.

Olympic Flag 100th Anniversary – Not Exactly

Several tweets and blog posts have commented that 15 June 2014 was the 100th anniversary of the unveiling of the Olympic Flag. This is not actually true, as we will note below, although it is the 100th anniversary of when the now familiar flag was approved by the IOC as its official symbol, but it had actually been designed several months earlier and displayed in April 1914 in Alexandria, Egypt.

The Olympic Flag has a plain white background with no border.  In the center is what is termed the Olympic Symbol, which consists of five interconnected rings.  They form two rows of three rings above, and two below.  The rings of the upper row are, from left to right, blue, black, and red.  The rings of the lower row are yellow and green.  The rings are thought to symbolize the five continents – Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and America.  The colors of the rings are thought to have been chosen because at least one of these colors can be found in the flag of every nation. Despite some commentaries I have seen, there is no designation of any of the colors to be assigned to any specific continent.

The origin of the flag’s design is in some dispute.  It was designed by Baron Pierre de Coubertin to honor and represent the 1914 Olympic Congress in Paris.  Some sources state that de Coubertin saw the rings at Delphi in 1913, but classics scholars believe this is highly unlikely and that they are of his own, modern invention. There is a picture of the rings at Delphi, but these were almost certainly added after the Olympic Flag had been unveiled. It is known that de Coubertin had written a letter in 1913 with his design for the five rings at the top of the letter.

The idea of a flag was raised by the IOC in 1910 and a special committee worked to plan it.  Several suggestions were made, notably by Theodore Cook (GBR) and Clarence von Rosen (SWE), but little progress was made until de Coubertin came up with his design.  He commented in the August 1913 edition of Revue Olympique, “These five rings represent the five parts of the world from this point on won over to Olympism and given to accepting fruitful rivalry.  Furthermore, the six colors [including the white background] thus combined reproduce the colors of all the nations, with no exception.” The flag was first flown at Chatsby Stadium in Alexandria, Egypt for the Pan-Egyptian Games on 5 April 1914.  It was presented to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) by de Coubertin at the Olympic Congress in 1914 at the Sorbonne in Paris, where it was officially approved on 15 June 1914.  The flag was also flown in 1915 at the San Francisco Exhibition and at the 1919 IOC Session in Lausanne, before it made its début at the Olympic Games in 1920 at Antwerp, Belgium.  The “primary” Olympic Flag was thus known as “the Antwerp flag,” and has been the main Olympic Flag flown at the stadium at all Olympic Games through 1984.  In 1984, Seoul presented a new Olympic Flag to the IOC, made of fine Korean silk, which was first flown at the 1988 Olympics.  A second “primary” Olympic Flag is used for the Olympic Winter Games, which was donated in 1952 by the host city of Oslo, Norway.

The Olympic Flag is raised at the Opening Ceremony and flies over the main stadium throughout the Olympic Games.  It is lowered at the Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Games.  The mayor of the Olympic Host City then presents the Olympic Flag to the mayor of the next Olympic Host City.  The flag is to be kept in the town hall of the host city until the next Olympic Games.

The Olympic Symbol of the five rings is now strictly regulated by the IOC, with strict design standards, and color regulations in Pantone© colors for the five rings. The Olympic Symbol and Olympic Flag are the exclusive property of the IOC and cannot be used without authorization.

NBA Champions/Medalists and the Olympics

With the San Antonio Spurs winning the NBA Title last night, here is a similar list to our Stanley Cup / Olympic Gold list. This is the list of basketball Triple Crown Winners – all those winning an NCAA Title, Olympic Gold, and NBA Championship. All 7 of the players are from the USA, as one would expect. And no, nobody on the Spurs was added to this list last night. American Tim Duncan (although he was born in the Virgin Islands and his sister, Tricia, swam for the Virgin Islands at the 1988 Olympics) on the team has an Olympic medal, playing on the bronze-medal winning 2004 team, and has won 5 NBA titles with the Spurs (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014), but Argentine Manu Ginóbili won a gold medal in 2004 and a bronze medal in 2008. He has played on NBA Champions with the Spurs in 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2014 and is one of the few non-Americans to have won an Olympic medal and an NBA Championship. The lists below show the 7 players to have won the Triple Crown and all non-Americans to have won an Olympic medal and an NBA title:

Name Olympics NCAA NBA Titles
Quinn Buckner 1976 1976 Indiana Univ 1984 Boston Celtics
Magic Johnson 1992 1979 Michigan State Univ 1980/82/85/87-88 Los Angeles Lakers
K. C. Jones 1956 1955-56 Univ San Francisco 1959-66 Boston Celtics
Michael Jordan 1984/92 1982 Univ North Carolina 1991-93; 1996-98 Chicago Bulls
Clyde Lovelette 1952 1952 Univ Kansas 1954 Minneapolis Lakers; 1963-64 Boston Celtics
Jerry Lucas 1960 1960 Ohio State Univ 1973 New York Knicks
Bill Russell 1956 1955-56 Univ San Francisco 1957; 1959-66; 1968-69 Boston Celtics

For the record, unlike ice hockey, no player has ever won Olympic Gold, NBA/NHL Championship, and a World Championship (31 hockey players thru 2010).

Name Olympics NBA Titles
Toni Kukoc 1988/1992 silver (YUG/CRO) 1996/97/98 Chicago Bulls
Zelly Rebrača 1996 silver (SCG) 2004 Detroit Pistons
Manu Ginóbili 2004 gold/2008 bronze (ARG) 2003/05/07/14 San Antonio Spurs
Fabricio Oberto 2004 gold/2008 bronze (ARG) 2007 San Antonio Spurs
Pau Gasol 2008/12 silver (ESP) 2009/10 Los Angeles Lakers

In addition, Hakeem Olajuwon won NBA Titles with the 1994/95 Houston Rockets and won an Olympic gold in 1996, but by then he had taken US citizenship and played for the USA. Two other foreign players who came close to this list were Luc Longley (AUS-1988/2000), Bill Wennington (CAN-1984), who both finished 4th at the Olympics (Longley twice), and played on NBA Champions – both with the Bulls from 1996-98.