Olympic National Winning Streaks and Dominance

Going into Rio, the USA women’s eight in rowing has now been unbeaten since 2010, also winning the gold medal in 2008 and 2012. Impressive but that is actually “only” 2 consecutive Olympic gold medals. We often get asked what have been the longest streaks or the most dominance performance by nations in team sports, team events, individual events, and sports. Not easy to rank them, but for these categories we have prepared separate lists, which are given in chronologic order only.

Team Sports

  • Canada – ice hockey (men) – gold 1920-32, 1948-52 – 4 consecutive golds, 6 of 7 consecutive golds, won 37 of 43 games (lost 3, tied 3)
  • India – hockey (field) (men) – gold 1928-36, 1948-56 – 6 consecutive golds, won 30 consecutive matches
  • USA – basketball (men) – gold 1936, 1948-68 – 7 consecutive golds, won 62 consecutive games
  • Soviet Union – ice hockey (men) – gold 1956, 1964-76, 1984-88 – 4 consecutive golds, 7 of 9 consecutive golds, won 56 of 63 games (lost 5, tied 2)
  • USA – basketball (women) – gold 1984-88, 1996-2012 – 5 consecutive golds (ongoing), 7 of 8 consecutive golds, won 41 consecutive games (1992-2012, ongoing)

Team Events

  • USA – rowing eights (men) – gold 1920-36, 1948-56 – 8 consecutive golds
  • Soviet Union / Unified Team – gymnastics team (women) – 1952-80, 88-92 – 8 consecutive golds, and 10 of 11 golds
  • Japan – gymnastics team (men) – 1960-76 – 5 consecutive golds
  • USA – swimming 4×100 medley relay (men) – 13 of 14 gold medals (1960-2012), missing only 1980 when the USA did not compete and Australia won gold. Two streaks of 5 consecutive golds (1960-76), and 8 consecutive golds (1984-2012), which is ongoing entering Rio.
  • USA – swimming 4×100 freestyle relay (men) – 1964-72, 1984-96 – 8 consecutive golds – the event was not contested in 1976 or 1980.
  • Soviet Union / Unified Team / Russia – figure skating pairs – 1964-2014 – 13 of 15 golds; 1 each by Canada and China
  • Soviet Union / Unified Team / Russia – figure skating dance – 1976-2014 – 7 of 11 golds; 1 each by Canada, France, Great Britain, and USA
  • USA – swimming 4×200 freestyle relay (women) – 4 of 5 golds (1996-2012), losing only in 2008 to Australia.

Individual Events

  • USA – athletics pole vault (men) – 1896-1968 – 16 consecutive golds. Of note, in 1906, the USA did not win this event, which was won by Fernand Gonder of France.
  • USA – athletics 110 metre hurdles (men) – 20 of 28 golds; 2 by Canada and Cuba, 1 each by China, France, German Democratic Republic (East Germany), and South Africa.
  • USA – athletics long jump (men) – 20 of 28 golds; 2 by Great Britain, 1 each by Cuba, German Democratic Republic (East Germany), Panama, and Sweden.
  • Kenya – athletics 3,000 m steeplechase (men) – 1968-2012 – 10 of 12 gold medals, 21 of 36 medals won

Sports

  • USA – diving (both) – 1920-56 – 78 of 102 medals won by USA divers (next most was Sweden with 8), 30 of 34 golds won by USA divers (1 each by Australia, Denmark, Mexico, and Sweden); in this era, USA divers swept the medals in 17 of 34 events. During this time, 3 divers from each nation were allowed per event, so this can no longer occur.
  • China – table tennis (both) – 1988-2012 – won 24 of 28 gold medals (next most is 3 by Korea), and 47 of 88 medals in all. Chinese women have won 13 of 14 events, and Chinese men have won 11 of 14 events. In 1996, 2000, 2008, and 2012, Chinese table tennis players won all 4 events on the program.
  • Korea (South) – archery (women) – 1988-2012 – 13 of 14 gold medals, including 7 of 7 team gold medals, and 21 of 42 medals
  • China – badminton (women) – 1992-2012 – 9 of 12 gold medals, 22 of 38 medals
  • China – diving (both) – 1992-2012 – 30 of 40 golds won by Chinese divers (4 Russia, 3 USA, 2 Australia, and 1 Greece); 70 of 120 medals won by Chinese divers (next most was Russia / Unified Team with 21) – note that after 1980, only 2 divers or diving team have been allowed per nation per event.

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