The OlyMADMen and OlympStats and Sports-Reference

So who am I and who are all these crazy people I work with doing Olympic stats? I do most of the posts on Olympstats, but you will see some posts from Hilary Evans and Jeroen Heijmans. Hilary, Jeroen, and I work in a group of 14 Olympic statistorians (my own term), who have been working on Olympic statistics for many years. We call ourselves the OlyMADMen, which reflects our crazy infatuation with collecting data about the Olympic Games.

I started collecting Olympic stats back in 1964 – yes, I am that old – when I was 12-years-old. This coalesced into real data in the early 1980s when I got my first PC. In the late 1990s I joined with two Norwegians Arild Gjerde and Magne Teigen to combine our work into databases of all Olympic results and all Olympic athletes. Also helping us was David Foster, a British Olympic expert. Jeroen Heijmans (aka Geronimo) joined us in about 2002 – this was important, for Jeroen is an IT specialist in his day job, and helped us convert our databases into an online web site. This became our private web site,, which we still use today as our private research site.

In about 2007-2008 we were joined by Hilary Evans, aka the Crazy Welsh Sheep Farmer, and Estonian Taavi Kalju. Both are dedicated genealogists who helped us find a plethora of new info on some of the older Olympians.

Over the next decade we were joined by three Germans – Wolf Reinhardt, Ralf Regnitter, and Ralph Schlüter; Austrian Martin Kellner, and two more Norwegians, Morten Aarlia Torp and Stein Opdahl. We then added Paul Tchir, an Arabic studies specialist, aka Canadian Paul. Paul is also the world’s expert on oldest living Olympians. In the last few years the OlyMADMen expanded to include Ian Morrison, from Britain but now living in Mallorca, Spain; and Canadian Michele Walker, our first female “OlyMADMan” a name for which we now apologize to Michele.

Our level of expertise, and the comprehensive nature of our data, is pretty high. Do we make mistakes? Sadly, yes, because we are 14 humans, but we have more data and stats and expertise on the Olympics than any similar group. We have far more than what can be found in Wikipedia, just for starters. You may know of the site (SR/olympics), which is very good, but that is actually also our site – a bit more on that in a moment.

In addition to the current base group of 14, which sadly lost original member Magne Teigen by his passing last year, we have a collection of experts in various sports and nationalities that assist us a great deal to make specific corrections to those sports and nations. These include Fernando Arrechea in Spain, Paweł Wudarski of Poland, George Masin for fencing (a former fencing Olympian), Jørn Jensen in Denmark, and several others.

Why do we this? For most of us, it is purely a hobby, but its something we enjoy  immensely. We’ve been collecting this data for so long and from so many dedicated experts on the topic, that we now estimate that we have about 185 person-years of work that have produced our databases and information.

In 2008 we produced our first public website, the above mentioned SR/olympics site. That is our data, which is downloaded periodically from the research site, however, we do not control it as closely, as it is run by sports-reference. However, we get many complimentary comments about this site and this brings us to the true purpose of this post.

SR/olympics will be going away sometime in the not too distant future. The reason for that is within the last few months we have had some good news as we have completed discussions with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to have them use as part of their Olympic Statistical Database. Because of this, the SR/olympics site will eventually mostly close down, although it will still include Olympic data on baseball, basketball, and ice hockey, to complement the SR data (which is superb) on those sports.

So that’s a bit on who we are, and some information on why we do this. It also lets you know that things will change in the coming months, but eventually you should be able to see Olympedia as a public site managed by the IOC, although we will still provide the updates to the site. In addition, this blog, will remain in its current structure and we will continue to contribute to it.

As the Rio Olympics end, we have enjoyed providing the world with our statistical data and we hope you have found it useful, and perhaps fun to read and study. If we can make it better in anyway in the future, please let us know. You can reach me here or e-mail via [email protected].

Allyson Felix – Post-Rio

Allyson Felix won 2 gold medals in relays in Rio de Janeiro and a silver medal in the 400 metres. This gives her 6 gold medals and 3 silvers in track & field athletics. Here is where she now stands on various Olympic medal lists:

  • Felix moves into a tie for 1st among all women in track & field athletics, with 9 medals, equalling Merlene Ottey (JAM).
  • She moves into a tie for 3rd among all track & field athletes, with 9 medals, trailing only Paavo Nurmi (FIN) with 12, and Carl Lewis (USA) with 10, and tied with Usain Bolt (JAM). Counting the 1906 Olympics, Felix also trails Ray Ewry (USA) with 10 (8, not including 1906) and equals Martin Sheridan (USA) with 9 (4, not including 1906).
  • She moves into 4th among all US women in any sport, with 9 Olympic medals. The only ones ahead of her are three US swimmers who have won 12 Olympic medals – Dara Torres, Jenny Thompson, and Natalie Coughlin.
  • With 9 medals, Felix is now tied for 36th among all Olympians, including all sports; and tied for 13th among female Olympians, all sports.
  • With her 4×400 gold medal, Felix equals the mark of Evelyn Ashford (USA) and Sanya Richards-Ross (USA), as the only women to win three Olympic gold medals in the same event in track & field athletics, with Ashford doing so in the 4×100 relay and Richards-Ross in the 4×400.
  • Felix moves into a tie for 5th among all female Olympians, in any sport, with 6 gold medals. Felix trails Larysa Latynina (URS-GYM) with 9, Birgit Fischer-Schmidt (GDR/GER-CAN) and Jenny Thompson (USA-SWI) with 8 each, and Věra Čáslavská (TCH-GYM) with 7. Six other women have won 6 Olympic gold medals, three in the Winter Games and three in the Summer Games: Marit Bjørgen (NOR-CCS), Lyubov Yegorova (EUN/RUS-CCS), Lidiya Skoblikova (URS-SSK), Valentina Vezzali (ITA-FEN), Kristin Otto (GDR-SWI), and Amy Van Dyken (USA-SWI).
  • Felix is now tied for 5th among all Olympic track & field athletes, with 6 gold medals, trailing only Paavo Nurmi (FIN), Carl Lewis (USA), and Usain Bolt (JAM), with 9; and Ray Ewry (USA), with 8 (10, including 1906).
  • Felix is now =2nd among US female Olympians, in any sport, with 6 gold medals. The @TeamUSA record is held by Jenny Thompson (SWI), with 8, while Felix is tied with Amy Van Dyken (SWI), who has won 6.
  • Felix has won medals at 4 consecutive Olympics (2004-16) in athletics. This trails only Merlene Ottey (JAM), who won medals at 5 Olympic Games, although not consecutively, and Veronica Campbell-Brown (JAM), who won at her 5th consecutive Olympics in Rio. Felix’s 4 consecutive Olympics winning medals is tied for 2nd with 2 other women (Jackie Joyner-Kersee (USA), Irena Kirszenstein-Szewińska (POL)) and 6 other men. Among Americans, Felix is tied in this category with Joyner-Kersee, Al Oerter, Carl Lewis, and Ray Ewry (counting 1906).
  • Felix has won gold medals at 3 consecutive Olympic Games, tieing her, among women Olympians, with Sanya Richards-Ross (USA), Evelyn Ashford (USA), and Irena Kirszenstein-Szewińska (POL), although Kirszenstein-Szewińska’s were not consecutive. The men’s record is 4, held by Al Oerter (USA), Carl Lewis (USA), and  if you count 1906, Ray Ewry (USA).

100, 200, and 4×100 Medals

Usain Bolt did it, winning the 100-200-4×100 triple gold medal for the 3rd consecutive Olympic Games (2008-16), an unprecedented triple. Winning medals in the 100, 200, and 4×100 is not that unusual, as it has now been done 25 times at the Olympics, by 22 athletes, but winning gold medals in all 3 events is.

Bolt is the only one to have won medals in all three events at 3 Olympics, much less gold medals. Renate Stecher (GDR) won medals in all sprint events in 1972 and 1976, the only other sprinter to do so more than once.

Eight athletes have won gold medals in all three events at one Olympics and they are mythic names. Here are the athletes who have achieved the sprint triple.



Jesse Owens,M,USA,1936

Bobby Joe Morrow,M,USA,1956

Carl Lewis,M,USA,1984

Usain Bolt,M,JAM,2008

Usain Bolt,M,JAM,2012

Usain Bolt,M,JAM,2016

Fanny Blankers-Koen,F,NED,1948

Betty Cuthbert,F,AUS,1956

Wilma Rudolph,F,USA,1960

Florence Griffith-Joyner,F,USA,1988


In Rio, Tori Bowie pulled off an unusual feat, winning a gold-silver-bronze in the three sprint events, with gold in the relay, silver in the 100, and bronze in the 200. This has also been done before, however, now in fact 4 times, and 3 times by women. Here are the athletes to have hit for the cycle in the sprints:



Justin Gatlin,M,USA,2004

Renate Stecher,F,GDR,1976

Carmelita Jeter,F,USA,2012

Tori Bowie,F,USA,2016


What about just winning medals in all three events at 1 Olympic Games? Here are the 25 times that has been done, by 11 men (13 occurrences), and 11 times by women (12 occurrences)



Charley Paddock,M,USA,1920

Jesse Owens,M,USA,1936

Barney Ewell,M,USA,1948

Bobby Joe Morrow,M,USA,1956

Thane Baker,M,USA,1956

Valeriy Borzov,M,URS,1972

Carl Lewis,M,USA,1984

Justin Gatlin,M,USA,2004

Usain Bolt,M,JAM,2008

Usain Bolt,M,JAM,2012

Yohan Blake,M,JAM,2012

Usain Bolt,M,JAM,2016

André de Grasse,M,CAN,2016

Fanny Blankers-Koen,F,NED,1948

Betty Cuthbert,F,AUS,1956

Wilma Rudolph,F,USA,1960

Edith McGuire,F,USA,1964

Renate Stecher,F,GDR,1972

Renate Stecher,F,GDR,1976

Annegret Richter,F,FRG,1976

Florence Griffith Joyner,F,USA,1988

Veronica Campbell-Brown,F,JAM,2004

Carmelita Jeter,F,USA,2012

Shelly-Ann Fraser,F,JAM,2012

Tori Bowie,F,USA,2016


Note that this has been twice in the same year several times – by men in 1956 by Thane Baker and Bobby Joe Morrow, in 2012 by Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake, and among the women, in 1976 by Renate Stecher and Annegret Richter, and in 2012 by Carmelita Jeter and Shelly-Ann Fraser (-Pryce).

Siblings Finishing 1-2 In Olympic Individual Events

With the Brownlee brothers finishing 1-2 in men’s triathlon just now, here are all the cases of siblings finishing 1-2 in an Olympic individual event. This is the 13th time this has occurred. Note that the Goitschel sisters did it twice in alpine skiing in 1964 at Innsbruck.



John / Sumner Paine,pistol shooting,1896
Platt / Ben Adams,athletics standing high jump,1912
Nedo / Aldo Nadi,fencing sabre,1920
Jennison / Jack Heaton,skeleton,1928
Edoardo / Dario Mangiarotti,fencing épée,1952
Raimondo / Piero D’Inzeo,equestrian jumping,1960
Phil / Steve Mahre,alpine skiing slalom,1984
Philipp / Simon Schoch,snowboard PGS,2006

Alistair / Jonathan Brownlee,men’s triathlon,2016


Christine / Marielle Goitschel,alpine skiing slalom / giant slalom,1964
Doris / Angelika Neuner,luge singles,1992

Justine / Chloe Dufour-Lapointe,freestyle skiing moguls,2014


Big Medals Day for USA in Track & Field Athletics

@TeamUSA had a great night (and day) in Olympic track & field on Wednesday. They won 7 medals, with 2 golds, 3 silvers, and 2 bronzes.

The highlights were the women’s medal sweep in the 100 metre hurdles, with Brianna Rollins winning gold, Nia Ali silver, and Kristi Castlin bronze; Britney Reese and Tianna Bartoletta winning gold-silver in the women’s long jump; Evan Jager winning a silver medal in the men’s 3,000 metre steeplechase, the first by a USA runner since 1920, and the first better than a bronze since 1952; and Tori Bowie taking bronze in the women’s 200 metres.

How does 7 medals in athletics (track & field) stack up against previous dominant days for @TeamUSA?

Well, all in all, we’ve done much better than that before, but that includes going back to the unusual 1900 and 1904 Olympics, and pre-WWII days. At more recent Games, this was one of the most successful days ever by @TeamUSA athletes.

This is the 24th day on which @TeamUSA athletes won 7 or more medals in athletics. Going back to 1948, however, it is tied for the 4th best day, trailing 9 on 6 August 1992, and 8 on 24 November 1956 and 8 August 1984 – and the 1984 Olympics are a special case because of the Soviet-led boycott. So one could make a case it is the =3rd best day for the USA since the 1936 Olympics.

Here is the full list of days on which @TeamUSA athletes have won 6 or more medals in track & field on a single day (35 days).







































Medal Sweeps at the Summer Olympic Games

The @TeamUSA women swept the medals in the 100 metre hurdles tonite in Rio, with Brianna Rollins winning gold, Nia Ali silver, and Kristi Castlin bronze. Here are the stats on medal sweeps by a single nation at the Summer Olympics Games (SOG) – these will not include Winter Olympic (WOG) medals sweeps, although there have been 46 medal sweeps at the WOG.

  • 283rd medal sweep by a nation at the Summer Olympics
  • 86th medal sweep in athletics (track & field)
  • 57th medal sweep by women (any sport)
  • 7th medal sweep by women in athletics (3 Soviet Union, 1 GDR, 1 Russia, 1 Jamaica)
  • 1st medal sweep in the women’s 100 metre hurdles (or 80 metre hurdles)
  • 157th medal sweep by @TeamUSA (any sport) – by far the most of any nation (Great Britain, with 26, is 2nd) – more than all other nations combined
  • 25th medal sweep by @TeamUSA women
  • 62nd medal sweep by @TeamUSA in athletics (track & field)
  • 1st medal sweep by USA women in athletics
  • Medal sweeps at most recent SOG – 2000 – 2; 2004 – 4; 2008 – 7; 2012 – 2; 2016 – 1 (to date)
  • Most recent medal sweep in athletics – 2012 Jamaica – men’s 200 metres
  • Most recent medal sweep by @TeamUSA – 2008 – men’s athletics 400 metres and men’s 400 metre hurdles; and women’s individual sabre fencing

Simone Biles Rio Medal Collection

Simone Biles starred in the gymnastics competition in Rio, winning four gold medals, with three individual golds in the all-around, on floor, and on the vault. How does that stack up against previous Olympic gymnasts or previous USA women?

  • Biles’ 4 golds equals the mark for female gymnasts at a singles Olympics held by Agnes Keleti (HUN-1956), Larisa Latynina (URS-1956), Věra Čašlavska (TCH-1968), and Ecaterina Szabo (ROU-1984). Of these, only Čašlavska won all 4 golds in individual events. The record for any sport is 6 by East German swimmer Kristin Otto in 1988, with 5 other women also winning 4 golds at a singles Games – Dutch sprinter Fanny Blankers-Koen in 1948, Soviet speedskater Lidiya Skoblikova in 1964, and three swimmers, Kornelia Ender (GDR-1976), Amy Van Dyken (USA-1996), and Missy Franklin (USA-2012).
  • Biles’ 4 golds equals the best mark for @TeamUSA women at a singles Olympics, in any sport, previously set by Amy Van Dyken (SWI-1996) and Missy Franklin (SWI-2012).
  • Biles won 3 individual gold medals, which is the 2nd best mark for a single Olympics by female gymnasts, held by 6 women – Agnes Keleti (HUN-1956), Larisa Latynina (URS-1956), Věra Čašlavska (TCH-1964), Nadia Comanĕci (ROU-1976), Ecaterina Szabo (ROU-1984), and Daniela Şilivas (ROU-1988). The record of 4 individual gold medals by a gymnast at 1 games was set by Čašlavska in 1968. Two other women in other sports have won 4 individual golds at 1 games – Lidiya Skoblikova (URS-SSK-1964) and Kristin Otto (GDR-SWI-1988). Other than the gymnasts, listed above, 13 women in other sports have won 3 individual gold medals at 1 Olympic Games.
  • Biles 3 individual golds medals equals the @TeamUSA mark for any sport, by a female, previously held by swimmers Debbie Meyer (1968) and Janet Evans (1988).
  • Biles’ 5 medals (including a bronze on beam) trails only swimmer Natalie Coughlin among @TeamUSA women, who did it in 2008. Biles is now tied with 8 other American women who have won 5 medals at 1 Olympic Games – Shirley Babashoff (SWI-1976), Mary Lou Retton (GYM-1984), Shannon Miller (GYM-1992), Dara Torres (SWI-2000), Natalie Coughlin (SWI-2004 [again]), Nastia Liukin (GYM-2008), Missy Franklin (SWI-2012), and Allison Schmitt (SWI-2012). The record for women, any nation, any sport, is 7 by Mariya Horokovskaya, Soviet gymnast in 1972. Nine women, including Coughlin, have won 6 medals at 1 Olympics. Five female gymnasts have done this, including Larysa Latynina, who did it three times, in 1956, 1960, and 1964.

Of Goats And Fish

As Fonzie once said, or at least tried to say, “I was wrr- …, I was wrrooo … OK, I was not right.” Michael Phelps is the GOAT – he is the greatest Olympian of all-time.

I kept resisting this idea, that a swimmer, who gets the opportunity to compete in far more events than most Olympians, was the greatest simply because of his absurd medal count. But the numbers are out of reach. I admit it.

I had, until Rio, always stood up for a guy many of you do not know, Al Oerter. Who? Oerter was a discus thrower who won gold medals in 1956, 1960, 1964, and 1968. More importantly, it was the way he won them. He never won the US Olympic Trials. He never led the yearly discus throw list going into the Olympics. He was never a favorite, although maybe co-favorite in 1960. At each Olympics he set a personal best. At each Olympics he broke the Olympic record. At each Olympics he simply came through, as has no other Olympian, to win the discus gold medal.

When others spoke of Carl Lewis, or Phelps, or Paavo Nurmi, I would admit they were good choices, but there was something romantic, almost mystical, about this systems engineer, Oerter, the true amateur, who once said, “There is no job, no money, no amount of power, that can match the Olympic experience.” And who also said, after his Tokyo 1964 gold medal, won despite immense pain from a torn rib cartilage and a months old lingering neck injury, “These are the Olympics. You die for them.”

But I can no longer ignore Phelps’ medal counts. There are no adequate words to describe them, although of course, I will try (why else would I be writing this?).

I have a good friend named Steve Rerych, who you do not know, though perhaps you should. He is a cardiac surgeon with whom I trained in residency. Steve won 2 gold medals in relay swimming at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. Two of his teammates were Mark Spitz and Don Schollander (another swimmer sadly lost in the mist of Olympic history). Of Spitz, Rerych once told me, “He’s a fish, not a human being.” Steve explained that Spitz really didn’t train as hard as many swimmers, he wasn’t the hardest worker, but he had an innate ability to swim faster than anybody else in the world. He would simply hop in the pool, proclaim he would set a world record today, and often did.

Phelps has similar innate ability, whether it is his physiognomy, his cardio-respiratory output, his technical prowess, or whatever it is. He combines this with what was very hard work, at least through the 2008 Olympics, and probably since 2014, making him the greatest swimmer the world has ever seen.

Phelps has won in a myriad of manners. He won as a youth in Athens, challenging Spitz’s 7 Munich gold medals when Phelps won 6. He sparkled at the height of his powers in Beijing, winning a record 8 gold medals, albeit aided by the 4×100 freestyle anchor leg of Jazon Lezak, who held off France’s Alain Bernard. Phelps struggled at London in 2012, coming off an alcohol and marijuana fog of the past 4 years, but still won 4 gold medals, while his coach, Bob Bowman, said he was really only going through the motions. And he was resplendent in Rio de Janeiro, winning 5 gold medals at a swimmer’s fossil-like age of 31.

Phelps’ numbers simply make my arguments for Oerter difficult to support any more, no matter how much I admired the man. Consider a few besides the simply astronomical count of 23 golds and 28 medals.

  • Phelps has won 5 or more gold medals at 3 Olympics (2004, 2008, 2016). Only 9 other Olympians have 5 gold medals at an Olympics, and none has done so at more than 1.
  • Phelps has won 4 or more gold medals at 4 consecutive Olympics (2004-16). Only 29 Olympians have won 4 medals at an Olympics. Three of them have done it more than 1 time – Bjørn Dæhlie (NOR-CCS), Larysa Latynina (URS-GYM), and Phelps, who has done it as often as Dæhlie and Latynina combined.
  • Phelps has won 6 or more medals at 4 consecutive Olympics (2004-16). Only 30 Olympians have won 6 medals at one Olympics, and besides Phelps, only Latynina (3 times) and Aleksey Nemov (twice) (RUS-GYM) have done it more than once.
  • If he were an NOC, Phelps would now be tied for 38th on the all-time most gold medals won list. He would now be 50th on the all-time most medals won list.
  • Phelps has won 28 medals – only two other Olympians have won at least half that number – Larysa Latynina (URS-GYM) with 18, and Nikolay Andrianov (URS-GYM) with 15.
  • With 23 gold medals, Phelps has more than 2½ times the next four best Olympians, who have won 9 – Paavo Nurmi (FIN-ATH), Carl Lewis (USA-ATH), Larysa Latynina (URS-GYM), and Mark Spitz (USA-SWI).

Look at that last stat – Phelps has more than 2½ times the gold medals of Paavo Nurmi, Carl Lewis, Mark Spitz, and Larysa Latynina, and those four have always been considered among the Olympic GOATs.

I give. Phelps is the Olympic GOAT.

Harting Brothers and Consecutive Olympic Golds

Rob Harting (GER) won the discus throw at the 2012 London Olympics. Today in Rio, his brother, Christoph Harting (GER) won the same event at the 2016 Olympics. Has it ever happened before that siblings have succeeded themselves as champions in the same individual Olympic event? The media has been all over us about this, and here is the answer.

It had never happened at the Summer Olympics before the Harting brothers. So the answer was basically no.

However, at the Winter Olympics, it has happened twice. In 1956 Hayes Allen Jenkins (USA) won the men’s figure skating, and he was succeeded by his brother, David Jenkins (USA) at the 1960 Squaw Valley Games. In 1964 Christine Goitschel (FRA) won the women’s Alpine skiing slalom, and was then succeeded in 1968 by her sister, Marielle Goitschel (FRA).

Anthony Ervin Again – How Old is Old?

Anthony Ervin won the men’s 50 metre freestyle tonite 16 years after he won the same race at the Sydney 2000 Olympics. Anthony Ervin is 35-years-old, which is Methuselah-like for an Olympic swimmer. How does this compare to previous elderly Olympic swimmers, especially successful ones?

  • Ervin became the 7th oldest Olympic swimming medalist tonite, at 35-079 (years-days), and the 6th oldest man
  • He became the 4th oldest USA Olympic swimming medalist, after Dara Torres (41-125 in 2008), Jason Lezak (36-260 in 2012), and Edgar Adams (36-151 in 1904).
  • Ervin became the oldest Olympic swimming gold medalist, surpassing Dara Torres from 2000, when she was 33-162 and 33-155 when she won relay gold medals; and among men, Jason Lezak, who was 32-279 and 32-273 in 2008, also winning in relays.
  • He is the 4th oldest individual swimming medalist, after Torres from 2008 (50 free), William Robinson (GBR-1908, 200 breaststroke; 38-026), and Edgar Adams (1904 plunge  for distance; 36-151).
  • Ervin is easily the oldest individual swimming gold medalist ever, surpassing Inge de Bruijn (NED-2004, 30-363) among all swimmers, and among the men, going way back to Duke Kahanamoku (USA-1920, 30-009), although Michael Phelps had  bettered that earlier in Rio.