You don’t have to expound on the fact that Olympic Athletes are talented individuals, right? Still, not all Olympic athletes are made equal and some are much more talented than others. We decided to pull together a list of the 30 most talented athletes to ever compete in the Olympics. Enjoy!
Babe Didrikson – Track
We’ll kickstart our list with a true multi-talented individual, Babe Didrikson. Didrikson is a Hall of Fame golfer, a hero in college basketball, and an accomplished Olympian for her work in the 1932 games.
Haile Gebrselassie – Track
Gebrselassie is one of the greatest marathon competitors of all time and, of course, he did it on the biggest stage possible.. Gebrselassie dominated the 10,0000m run in 1996 and 2000 where he won gold at both games. There will never be another marathon runner like him so you can guarantee he doesn’t have to scrape around to beat bad credit car loans online. In fact, he’s probably more reliable than a car anyway.
Fanny Blankers – Track
Can you believe it, Fanny Blankers was once known as the ‘Flying Housewife’ because she competed in the Olympics even after getting married and having children. Blankers was progressive for her time and she was a multiple gold winning Olympic competitor as a result. Yeah, we’re pretty sure that Blankers can afford her own maid services and home cleaning service bills.
Boris Shakhlin – Gymnastics
The Soviet Union sure knows how to pump out incredible gymnasts. Boris is the first Soviet talent to make our list and he won’t be the last. Shakhlin won 13 medals, seven of which were gold, through the ’60s.
Matt Biondi – Swimming
Biondi set the world record for the 50 meter freestyle back in 1988 but that wasn’t what he was known for. Biondi was a prolific competitor and a true talent in the relay swimming pool. Every relay team that Biondi competed with would end up winning.
Richard Fosbury – High Jump
The 1968 Olympic Games saw something entirely new occur during the high jump — the Fosbury Flop. Fosbury won Olympic Gold in Mexico City back in 1968 when he created this now common high jumping style. Fosbury was an innovator and he’ll be remembered for it.
Al Oerter – Discus
Oerter was as consistent as they come. He won his first gold back in 1956 and his last gold in 1968 at the Mexico City games. Oerter won gold every single time he competed, always in the same event. He retired from Olympic competition at 32 years old.
Nikolay Adrianov – Gymnastics
Adrianov was once the world record holder for most medals earned at 15. Of course, Adrianov would see his record broken by a certain swimmer named Michael Phelps. Still, for a period in time there was no gymnast more accomplished than Adrianov.
Sawao Kato – Gymastics
This Japanese gymnast dominated the Olympic world from 1968 to 1972. Kato was a force on the mat, racking up 12 medals and eight golds along the way.
Bob Mathias – Decathlon
Mathias won back to back decathlons despite struggling to remember all of the rules in his first competition. Mathias still came back and competed again four years later, racking up a win by over 900 points — the largest gap in the history of the game. He also played fullback for Stanford and played in the Rose Bowl that year.
Michael Johnson – Track
When you sweep the 200m and 400m you deserve a spot on our list. Johnson compared the art of competitive running with the freedom of flying. His numerous gold medals as a track star mirror that idea.
Alexei Nemov – Gymastics
Nemov was the Russian sensation for the gymnastics events in the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games. Nemov won 12 medals in his career and famously had the crowd defend his skills by booing the judges so long that the games had to stop.
Aleksandra Karelin – Greco Roman Wrestling
Karelin would train for wrestling by carrying refrigerators on his back up and down stairs. Yeah, gyms in Russia were pretty rough. Still, Karelin’s work paid off and he won gold medals in three consecutive games.
Wilma Rudolph – Track
Rudolph was afflicted with polio and scarlet fever as a kid and she was forced into a body brace until 9 years old. Still, Rudolph became the fastest female competitor in the world. She was inspired by an Olympian who will appear on our list: Jesse Owens.
Emil Zatopek – Track
Zatopek is a true Iron Man thanks to his work as a runner. Zatopek won the 5,000m, 10,000m, and the marathon event all at the same Olympic game.
Teofilo Stevenson – Boxing
Stevenson is the rare Olympic athlete who dominated his sport but never went pr. Stevenson won three gold medals while fighting in the heavyweight division, upsetting Duane Bobick in 1972 along the way.
Nadia Comaneci – Gymnastics
This Romanian athlete knocked back five golds during her time competing in the Olympics. Nadia landed a perfect score on the uneven bars and showcased that an event could be perfected.
Steve Redgrave – Rowing
Steve Redgrave is probably the most prolific rower in the history of the Olympics. He won gold medals t five straight Olympic Games which ranged from 1984 to 2000.
Jackie Joyner-Kersee – Track
Jackie Joyner-Kersee is one of the greatest heptathlon competitors in the history of the games. She also dominated college basketball and set records throughout her Olympic games. She was probably the greatest female athlete of the ’80s.
We are only going to include one athlete from the Olympic Dream Team. Michael Jordan is the greatest player to ever pick up a basketball. He was integral in leading the United States to Olympic Gold.
Birgit Fischer – Kayaking
Fischer won’t move the meter for many casual fans but she really is one of the greatest Olympians of all time. FIscher is considered the most dominant kayak competitor in the history of the game — grabbing eight gold medals through six different Olympic games.
Gert Fredriksson – Sprint Canoeist
Now here’s a game that most people don’t talk about much. Fredriksson is a gold medal winning Olympian from Sweden. His most notable achievement came when he racked up gold over four straight Olympic games — making him the best male canoeist in the history of the event.
Paavo Nurmi – Track
This Finnish athlete racked up nine gold medal wins in his career. He was an Olympic record setter in the 1,5000 and 5,000 meter run and he was one of the most intense athletes of his generation.
Mark Spitz – Swimming
He won’t be the last swimmer on our list, but let’s talk about Spitz first. Spitz won seven golds during the same Olympic games back in 1972.
Carl Lewis – Track
Lewis has seen his legacy stumble after it was revealed that he failed multiple drug tests for the 1988 Olympic Games. Still, Lewis dominated the long jump and he was also a prolific 100m and 4x100m rely runner. Lewis is a legend even if his stats have an asterisk next to them.
Larisa Latynina – Gymnastics
Latynina is a gymnast from the Soviet Union who won 14 medals from 1956 to 1964. Latynina dominated floor exercise, uneven bars, balance beams and vaults. She’s one of the most decorated Olympians in the history of the competition.
Usain Bolt – Track
A true living legend, Bolt is the fastest sprinter of all time. Bolt has six gold medals to his name and he has swept his races in the past two Olympics. He even posed with a Cheetah that one time.
Michael Phelps – Swimming
It feels odd to be watching a living legend compete. Phelps is the greatest swimming Olympian of all time and one of the most decorated. Phelps competed in races ranging from 100m to 400m, showcasing his rare mix of speed and stamina.
Ray Ewry – Long, Triple and Standing Jump
Here’s a name most people won’t know. Ewry competed in the 1900 Paris Games where he won 10 gold medals in long jump, triple jump, and high jump. He compted in Olympic games for two more ‘seasons’ becoming one of the greatest ever as a result. Oh, and did we mention he overcame Polio as a child?
Jesse Owens – Track
Track and Field is probably the most entertaining sport to watch in the Olympics. Jesse Owens dominated the 1936 Olympic Games by winning 4 Gold Medals and setting two different World Records. Owens also did it with Adolph Hitler in the crowd and Nazism cursing through the world.