Individual and Team Olympic Medal Records

So we know who holds the Olympic records for most medals won and most gold medals won – that’s an easy one, Michael Phelps, who has won 22 medals and 18 gold medals (and is probably not done yet).

But Phelps won 9 medals in relay races, winning a medal in every swim relay race in 2004, 2008, and 2012, so he had a little help. What about winning individual medals? Who has won the most individual medals and individual gold medals? Is it still Phelps?

Not quite. The most individual medals title still belongs to Larisa Latynina, the Soviet gymnast who won 18 medals in all, the records that Phelps broke in London. Latynina won 14 of those medals by herself. Here is the list of all those winning 9 or more individual medals, and women who won 8 or more:

IndMeds Name Gdr Ssn NOC Sport
14 Larysa Latynina F S URS GYM
13 Michael Phelps M S USA SWI
12 Nikolay Andrianov M S URS GYM
10 Borys Shakhlin M S URS GYM
10 Takashi Ono M S JPN GYM
10 Aleksey Nemov M S RUS GYM
10 Ray Ewry M S USA ATH
9 Ole Einar Bjørndalen M W NOR BIA
9 Paavo Nurmi M S FIN ATH
9 Bjørn Dæhlie M W NOR CCS
9 Sawao Kato M S JPN GYM
9 Viktor Chukarin M S URS GYM
9 Vitaly Shcherbo M S BLR GYM
9 Martin Sheridan M S USA ATH
8 Věra Čáslavská F S TCH GYM
8 Claudia Pechstein F W GER SSK
8 Karin Enke-Kania F W GDR SSK
8 Gunda Niemann-St’mann-Kleemann F W GER SSK

Larysa Latynina
As you can see, Latynina is the only woman with more than 8 individual medals, with 4 women tied at that level. Two people on this list, Ray Ewry and Martin Sheridan, won some of their medals in 1906 (Ewry 2, Sheridan 5), so purists may demur and drop them from this list.

As to individual golds, yes, Phelps does lead this list with 11. And again, Ewry presents a problem with 10, including 2 in 1906, but he would still be second with 8, if you skip the 1906 Intercalated Olympics. Here is the list of all Olympians with 5 or more individual gold medals:

IndGolds Name Gdr Ssn NOC Sport
11 Michael Phelps M S USA SWI
10 Ray Ewry M S USA ATH
7 Věra Čáslavská F S TCH GYM
7 Carl Lewis M S USA ATH
6 Larysa Latynina F S URS GYM
6 Nikolay Andrianov M S URS GYM
6 Borys Shakhlin M S URS GYM
6 Paavo Nurmi M S FIN ATH
6 Bjørn Dæhlie M W NOR CCS
6 Lidiya Skoblikova F W URS SSK
5 Ole Einar Bjørndalen M W NOR BIA
5 Sawao Kato M S JPN GYM
5 Viktor Chukarin M S URS GYM
5 Vitaly Shcherbo M S BLR/EUN GYM
5 Martin Sheridan M S USA ATH
5 Nadia Comăneci F S ROU GYM
5 Gert Fredriksson M S SWE CAN
5 Krisztina Egerszegi F S HUN SWI
5 Clas Thunberg M W FIN SSK
5 Vitaly Shcherbo M S EUN GYM
5 Bonnie Blair F W USA SSK
5 Eric Heiden M W USA SSK

The women’s leader is Czechoslovak gymnast Věra Čáslavská with 7 individual gold medals, followed by Latynina, and Soviet speed skater Lidiya Skoblikova, both with 6. Among Winter Olympians, Skoblikova is tied with Norwegian cross-country skiier Bjørn Dæhlie, with 6 individual gold medals, followed by 4 Winter Olympians with 5: Norwegian biathlete Ole Einar Bjørndalen, Finnish speed skater Clas Thunberg, and American speed skaters Bonnie Blair and Eric Heiden.

So who has won the most Olympic medals, without ever winning an individual medal? I dare say nobody in the twitterverse would ever get this trivia question correct, except for possibly the athlete herself, and even she may not know it. It is the Hungarian canoeist Katalin Kovács, who has won 8 Olympic medals from 2000-12, but never an individual one. Here are all those who won 6 or more Olympic medals, but never won an individual medal. As you would expect, they tend to be in sports with no, or few, opportunities to win individual medals.

Medals Name Gdr Ssn NOC Sport
8 Katalin Kovács F S HUN CAN
7 Willis Lee M S USA SHO
7 Bogdan Musiol M W GDR/GER BOB
6 Georgeta Damian-Andrunache F S ROU ROW
6 Steven Redgrave M S GBR ROW
6 Doina Ignat F S ROU ROW
6 Veronica Cogeanu-Cochelea F S ROU ROW
6 Wolfgang Hoppe M W GDR/GER BOB
6 Eugenio Monti M W ITA BOB

Katalin Kovács

Now who has won the most Olympic gold medals but never won an individual gold? This one some people may get, as Jenny Thompson won 12 medals and 8 golds in swimming for the United States and leads the list, and is fairly well known. Her frustration at not winning an individual gold was well publicized (as was the same for her frequent teammate, Dara Torres – of note, Thompson and Torres were, and are, not friends). In fact this is not even close, as she leads 5 athletes with 5 team gold medals, with another 21 winning only 4 team golds. Here is the list of all those with 4 or more Olympic gold medals, but no individual gold medals:

Golds Name Gdr Ssn NOC Sport
8 Jenny Thompson F S USA SWI
5 Tom Jager M S USA SWI
5 Willis Lee M S USA SHO
5 Georgeta Damian-Andrunache F S ROU ROW
5 Steven Redgrave M S GBR ROW
5 Anastasiya Davydova F S RUS SYN
4 Dara Torres F S USA SWI
4 Ricco Groß M W GER BIA
4 Jason Lezak M S USA SWI
4 Einar Liberg M S NOR SHO
4 Lloyd Spooner M S USA SHO
4 Katrin Wagner-Augustin F S GER CAN
4 Doina Ignat F S ROU ROW
4 Aleksandr Tikhonov M W URS BIA
4 Jayna Hefford F W CAN ICH
4 Kevin Kuske M W GER BOB
4 André Lange M W GER BOB
4 Oreste Puliti M S ITA FEN
4 Hayley Wickenheiser F W CAN ICH
4 Kathrin Boron F S GER ROW
4 Teresa Edwards F S USA BAS
4 Jon Olsen M S USA SWI
4 Viorica Susanu F S ROU ROW
4 Lisa Leslie F S USA BAS
4 Caroline Ouellette F W CAN ICH
4 Matthew Pinsent M S GBR ROW
4 Anastasiya Yermakova F S RUS SYN

So what does this all mean? Hell, we don’t know, but it was fun doing these lists!

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