So we got asked what was the most common name for an Olympic athlete, which led to a little research into the names of Olympians.
First off, the answer to that question is Kim, the most common Korean name, with fully 597 Olympians so-named. Kim is followed by the second most common Korean name – Lee, although that name is used in other English-speaking nations as well. There have been 423 Lee Olympians. The remainder of the names used by more than 100 Olympians are as follows:
Smith is the most common Anglo-Saxon name with 260 Olympians, although if we count the variants of Anderson (85) / Andersen (100) / Andersson (117), there are 302 of them. Another name that should be higher on the above list is Singh. Singh is the common male surname for Indian Sikhs, but it is often a compound surname, such as Singh Grewal. If you include all the Singhs with the compounds, there are 186 such Singh Olympians.
So what’s the shortest name of any Olympian. The award goes to North Korean table tennis player O Il who competed at the 2004 Athens Games. His name has only 3 letters. The only 4-letter names are E Jie, a 1992 Chinese female fencer, and Li Na, the well-known female Chinese tennis player. In all, there have been 48 Olympians with a single-letter surname, all vowels, and every vowel is represented, as follows:
All 48 are from either China, Hong Kong, DPR Korea (North), or Chinese Taipei (Taiwan).
So which Olympian has had the longest name? This is a more difficult question with multiple sub-categories. If we include titles, such as the Duchess of Cambridge, who is not an Olympian, the answer is easy. The longest name belongs to 1920 Spanish polo player Jacobo Fitz-James. Fitz-James has a title, in fact, he has a few titles, or more properly, he’s got a whole slew of them. His title is fully: XVII Duque de Alba de Tormes, 10th Duke of Berwick, Duque de Arjona, XVII Duque de Huescar, X Duque de Liria y Jérica, Duque de Montoro, XIII Conde-Duque de Olivares, Marqués del Carpio, Conde de Baños, Conde de Lemos, Conde de Lerín, Conde de Miranda del Castanar, Conde de Monterrey, Conde de Osorno, Conde de Siruela, Condestable de Navarra, XI Marqués de la Algaba, Marqués de Andrade, Marqués de Ardales, Marqués de Ayala, XIII Marqués de Barcarrota, Marqués de Casarrubios del Monte, XVIII Marqués de Coria, Marqués de Eliche, Marqués de Fuentes de Valdepero, Marqués de Fuentiduena, Marqués de Galve, Marqués de los Gelves, Marqués de Mirallo, Marqués de Modica, Marqués de la Mota, Marqués de Moya, Marqués de Osera, Marqués de Piedrahita, Marqués de Salvatierra, Marqués de San Esteban de Gormaz, Marqués de San Leonardo, Marqués de Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Marqués de Sárria, Marqués de Tarazona, Marqués de Valdunquillo, Marqués de Villalba, Marqués de Villanueva del Fresno, Marqués de Villanueva del Río, 10th Earl of Tinmouth, Vizconde de la Calzada, 10th Baron of Bosworth, Caballero del Orden del Toisón de Oro. Which takes up 1,126 characters – and most of a page on this blog.
So let’s omit titles. Now we have to look at what we term Used Names and Full Names. A Used Name is something like Carl Lewis, while his Full Name is Frederick Carleton “Carl” Lewis. Again we have a problem defining terms – should we include the female athletes with multiple hyphenated married names? If we do, the Olympian with the longest Used Name is Slovakian biathlete Martina Jašicová-Schwarzbacherová-Halinárová – 36 characters long.
If we omit hyphenated names, the longest used names are Patricia Galvin de la Tour d’Auvergne, an American equestrienne from 1960-64, and Jacques De Wykerslooth De Rooyesteyn, a 1924 Belgian modern pentathlete. But Galvin de la Tour d’Auvergne is her name after marriage (she was born Patricia Galvin), so De Wykerslooth De Rooyesteyn becomes the longest Used Name (28 characters).
But looking at non-hyphenated and non-compound names, we have three women with Used Names of 20+ characters, led by the Malagasy swimmer (2004-08) Tojohanitra Andriamanjatoarimanana (22), then the Thai weightlifter (2008) Prapawadee Jaroenrattanatarakoon (21), and finally the 1992 Fijian judoka Asenaca Lesivakaruakitotoiya (20). Among men, the two longest are 1972-76 Indian hockey player Govinda Billimogaputtaswamy (19) and 1948 Greek fencer Nikolaos Khristogiannopoulos (19).
Looking at Full Names, the two longest are two Liechtensteiner alpine skiiers – Max Emanuel Maria Alexander Vicot Bruno de la Santisima Trinidad y Todos los Santos von Hohenlohe Langenburg (107), and Konstantin Franz Nikolaus Karl Heinrich Dagobert Anton von Padua Ildefons Maria von Liechtenstein (96). For the record, their surnames are, respectively, von Hohenlohe Langenburg and von Padua Ildefons Maria von Liechtenstein.
If we again try to be restrictive and omit compound surnames, or those with particles (de, von, etc.), the longest full name belongs to an Austrian shooter from 1952-64 – Ladislaus Peter Maria Gabriel Antonius Benedikt Bonaventura Szapáry (66). The American record belongs to the renowned swimmer Duke Paoa Kahino Makoe Hulikohoa Kahanamoku, with a 42-character name.
So there you have it. Which proves, if nothing else, that its dangerous to ask the OlyMADMen a seemingly simple question about Olympic statistics.