Top 10 Olympians to ever compete at the Games

The Olympics have long been known to be a world stage for athletes to showcase their talents and skills in their respective sports

Tarek Ali Ahmad
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The Olympics have long been known to be a world stage for athletes to showcase their talents and skills in their respective sports. Over the course of the modern Olympics, legends have been shaped as world-records were set and broke. Al Arabiya English looks at the top 10 Olympic athletes to ever grace the Games.

Gert Fredriksson

Gert Fredriksson, the most successful male canoeist in Olympic history with six gold medals in four games. (reuters)
Gert Fredriksson, the most successful male canoeist in Olympic history with six gold medals in four games. (reuters)

Swedish sprint canoeist Gert Fredriksson was hailed as one of the best canoe racers of his time. Notching six gold medals at the Olympics from 1948 to 1960, Fredriksson was untouchable over the course of four Olympic tournaments in the 1000m sprint race event. Known as the most decorated Olympian Sweden has ever produced, Fredriksson was awarded the Mohammad Taher trophy by the International Olympic Committee as the number one sportsman in the world in 1956, the only canoeist to be presented with this trophy.

Paavo Nurmi

Finnish middle- and long-distance runner Paavo Nurmi dominated distance running in the 20s, winning gold in every Olympics from 1920 to 1928. At his time, Nurmi set 22 official world records in distance running, and was unbeaten throughout his 14-year career in cross country events and 10,000m runs.

Usain Bolt

Jamaica's Usain Bolt crosses the finish line to win the gold in the men's 200-meter final during the athletics competitions in the National Stadium at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing. (AP)
Jamaica's Usain Bolt crosses the finish line to win the gold in the men's 200-meter final during the athletics competitions in the National Stadium at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing. (AP)

Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt is one of two athletes on this list to still be competing and will appear in this summer’s Rio Olympic Games. ‘Lightning Bolt’, as he was sometimes referred to, shattered records across the sprinting events as he still dominates all three events – the 100m, 200m and 4 x 100m races. Regarded as the ‘fastest man on Earth, Bolt is the first modern Olympian to win six gold medals at sprinting. He was also the first athlete to complete a ‘double double’, winning gold in 100m and 200m races in two consecutive Olympic Games (2008 and 2012).

Aladar Gerevich

Alan Gerevich, Hungarian fencing champion. (AP)
Alan Gerevich, Hungarian fencing champion. (AP)

Hungarian Aladar Gerevich is regarded as the ‘greatest Olympic swordsman ever’ after dominating fencing at the Olympics. Gerevich won 10 medals at the Games from 1932 to 1960, seven of them being gold medals. The games were dismissed in 1940 and 1944 due to World War II, and many say Gerevich would surely have added more silverware to his cabinet had they tournament been played.

Birgit Fischer

Germany's seven-time kayaking gold medalist Birgit Fischer celebrates after she and her teammates won the Women's K4 500 meter final to take the gold medal, during the kayak flatwater event at the 2004 Olympic Games in Schinias near Athens, Greece, Friday, Aug. 27, 2004. (AP)
Germany's seven-time kayaking gold medalist Birgit Fischer celebrates after she and her teammates won the Women's K4 500 meter final to take the gold medal, during the kayak flatwater event at the 2004 Olympic Games in Schinias near Athens, Greece, Friday, Aug. 27, 2004. (AP)

German kayaker Birgit Fischer is highly regarded as one of the best female kayakers in the world. Having represented both East Germany and the reunited Germany at the Olympics from 1980 to 2004, Fischer has amassed a total of 12 Olympic medals, eight of them being gold. She holds the record of being both the youngest and oldest Olympic canoeing champion, where she won at 18 years old and again at 42 years old.

Sir Steve Redgrave

Steven Redgrave acknowledges the crowd after receiving a special gold pin Saturday, Sept. 23, 2000, at the Sydney International Regatta Center in Penrith, Australia. He received the pin in honor of winning five consecutive gold medals. Looking on at left is teammate James Cracknell. (AP)
Steven Redgrave acknowledges the crowd after receiving a special gold pin Saturday, Sept. 23, 2000, at the Sydney International Regatta Center in Penrith, Australia. He received the pin in honor of winning five consecutive gold medals. Looking on at left is teammate James Cracknell. (AP)

British Olympic rower Stever Redgrave competed in the Olympics from 1984 to 2000, winning five consecutive gold medals. He is regarded as one of Great Britain’s finest athletes, and received BBC’s Sports Personality of the year – lifetime achievement award in 2011. After his athletic heroics over the course of the past Olympics, Commonwealth games, and Rowing World Championships, Redgrave was appointed a knight bachelor by Queen Elizabeth II in 2001.

Carl Lewis

The USA’s Carl Lewis, center, Houston, Tex., hits the line ahead of Japan’s Tatsuo Sugimoto (left), and Cuba’s Jorge Luis Aguilera Ruiz, in the semi-final of the Men’s 4×100 meter relay at Barcelona’s Olympic Stadium, Friday, August 7, 1992. Each team qualified for the final with Lewis finishing first, Ruiz second and Sugimoto fourth. (AP)
The USA’s Carl Lewis, center, Houston, Tex., hits the line ahead of Japan’s Tatsuo Sugimoto (left), and Cuba’s Jorge Luis Aguilera Ruiz, in the semi-final of the Men’s 4×100 meter relay at Barcelona’s Olympic Stadium, Friday, August 7, 1992. Each team qualified for the final with Lewis finishing first, Ruiz second and Sugimoto fourth. (AP)

US track and field athlete Carl Lewis topped the 100m and 200m runs as well as the long jump from 1984 to 1996. He won 10 Olympic medals, nine gold and one silver. Lewis was named “World Athlete of the Century” by the International Association of Athletics Federations and “Sportsman of the Century” by the International Olympic Committee, ‘Olympian of the Century’ by Sports Illustrated in 1982, 1983 and 1984.

Nikolai Andrianov

Nikolai Andrianov of the Soviet Union works with the rings in men's gymnastics in Moscow Olympics Thursday evening July 24, 1980. Andrianov captured the silver medal in the event as the gold was won by teammate Alexandr Distyatin. (AP)
Nikolai Andrianov of the Soviet Union works with the rings in men's gymnastics in Moscow Olympics Thursday evening July 24, 1980. Andrianov captured the silver medal in the event as the gold was won by teammate Alexandr Distyatin. (AP)

Russian born Nikolai Andrianov is the third most decorated athlete ever, holding 15 Olympic medals, seven of them being gold. Having represented the former Soviet Union from 1972 to 1980 at the Olympic Games in gymnastics, Andrianov won the most individual medals in 1976 with six in total.

Larisa Latynina

Larisa Latynina of Russia during her performance on the beam at the final of the woman's gymnastics held Sept. 9, 1960 at Rome's Terme Di Caracalla. She won second place in this event. (AP)
Larisa Latynina of Russia during her performance on the beam at the final of the woman's gymnastics held Sept. 9, 1960 at Rome's Terme Di Caracalla. She won second place in this event. (AP)

Ukranian gymnast Larisa Latynina represented the now-defunct Soviet Union at the Olympics from year 1956 to 1964. Over the course of these Games, Latynina won 18 medals, a record total number that was unsurpassed until the 2012 London Games when US swimmer Michael Phelps broke her record. The former Olympic gymnast bagged a total of 9 gold medals.

Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps displaying his eighth gold medal after the men's 4x100-meter medley relay final at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing. (AP)
Michael Phelps displaying his eighth gold medal after the men's 4x100-meter medley relay final at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing. (AP)

US champion swimmer Michael Phelps is the second athlete on this list to still be competing to this day and will represent his country at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Phelps shattered records and grabbed headlines all throughout 2008’s Beijing Games when he won eight gold medals – a feat no athlete had completed in a single tournament. In 2012, Phelps bagged four gold medals, which made him the most decorated athlete of all time – holding 18 in total, double the second highest holding record (9).

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