Olympic Medal Record Progressions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Following are the winter lists for men and women separately:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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