Triplets and Twins at the Olympics

Three Estonian marathoners – Leila, Liina, and Lily Luik – have recently made the Olympic qualifying time for Rio and may compete at Rio. This is especially notable because the three Luik sisters are triplets. No triplets have ever competed at the Olympic Games previously, either at the same Games or at separate Olympics.

But that is not the case with twins. In fact, our database includes 200 twins that have both competed at the Olympics. Of these, 188 of them have competed at the same Olympics, so they almost always competed together. Here is the breakdown of those 188:

Twin type ###
Twin brother 127
Twin sister 53
Twin brother/sister (fraternal) 4
Twin brother (fraternal) 2
Twin sister (fraternal) 2

Please note that we try to differentiate between fraternal and identical twins in the database, but that information is not always announced or available, so the fraternal numbers above may be somewhat low. Without further information, our default listing is as identical twins, unless they are brother/sister, who must be fraternal twins.

Many of these twins have competed at the same Olympic Games several times. Here is how that breaks down:

#Games #Twins
4 Games 4
3 Games 9
2 Games 43
1 Games 132

Among the 4 Games twins are one set of twin sisters – Sharon and Shirley Firth, who competed in cross-country skiing for Canada at the 1972, 1976, 1980, and 1984 Winter Olympics. Also competing together at 4 Games are the twin brother canoeists, Pavol and Peter Hochschorner of Slovakia, who won the Canadian slalom doubles in 2000, 2004, and 2008, and added a bronze in that event in 2012. They will likely compete in Rio which will make them the first twins to compete together at 5 Olympic Games.

Basically, all of the twins have always competed in the same sport. However, Swedish twin brothers Vilhelm and Eric Carlberg are a slight anomaly. Vilhelm competed in shooting in 1906, 1908, 1912, and 1924. Eric competed in shooting at all 4 Olympics, but in 1908 he also competed in fencing, and in 1912 he competed in shooting, fencing, and modern pentathlon.

The twins have also always represented the same nation. Until recently we thought that the presumed twin brothers Steve Tikal and František Tikal played against each other in ice hockey at the 1960 Winter Olympics, with Steve competing for Australia and František competing for their native Czechoslovakia, however, more recent evidence reveals that they were not twins, as often cited.

No single sport predominates among these sets of twins, with 36 different sports represented. The top 6 sports, however, are the following:

Sport ###
Athletics 34
Rowing 22
Sailing 16
Wrestling 12
Ice Hockey 11
Swimming 10

The Luiks competing as triplets will be an Olympic first, assuming they all compete. None has approached world-class times so they will not be medal contenders, but you could be seeing Olympic history.

One thought on “Triplets and Twins at the Olympics”

  1. Since I do not see Taekwondo on our list, probably you haven’t count the twin sisters from Croatia in our sport. Why you do not have Taekwondo in your stats as it is an Olympic sport since Sydney 2000?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *