The Olympic Games are a global phenomenon, bringing together the greatest athletes from around the world to compete in a wide variety of sports. As the world’s top athletes strive to reach the podium, many have come to dominate their respective sports and even the Games themselves by racking up a staggering number of medals. Here is a list of the 10 athletes with the most Olympic medals of all time.
10- Paavo Nurmi
Total Medals: 12
Photo Credit: Sky Sports
Paavo Nurmi of Finland is an athlete who won a total of twelve medals during his career. The Finnish athlete was renowned for his incredible speed and endurance, earning him the nickname of ‘The Flying Finn’. He earned nine gold medals, three silver medals, and no bronze medals, a feat that has never been matched. Nurmi’s Olympic career spanned three different games, starting with his first gold medal in the 10,000m at the 1920 Antwerp Olympics. He then won four more gold medals at the 1924 Paris Olympics, and four more at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics. His final three medals were a gold and two silvers at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. Paavo Nurmi’s record of nine gold medals remains one of the highest in Olympic history.
9- Takashi Ono
Total Medals: 13
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Takashi Ono is a Japanese Olympic gymnast who has won five gold medals, four silver, and three bronze across three Olympic Games. Ono first competed in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, where he won a silver and a bronze. He then competed in the 1960 Rome Olympics and won two gold medals and two silver medals. His last Olympic competition was in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, where he won three gold medals, one silver, and one bronze. Over the course of his Olympic career, Takashi Ono accumulated an impressive 14 medals. He is one of the most decorated Olympic athletes in history, and his legacy as one of the gymnastics greats will live on forever.
8- Ireen Wust
Total Medals: 13
Ireen Wust of the Netherlands is the athlete with the most Olympic medals of all time. She has won an incredible 6 gold medals, 5 silver medals, and 2 bronze medals for a total of 13 medals. This is an impressive achievement, considering that she has only participated in the Winter Olympics. Wust has been a dominant force in the world of speed skating for many years. She first competed in the 2006 Winter Olympics. At the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, Ireen Wüst earned a record sixth speed skating gold medal in the 1500 metres and a bronze medal in the team pursuit event, making her the most successful athlete of the Netherlands at the Olympics.
This followed her record thirteen Olympic medals, more than any other speed skater, which she earned at the 2006, 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympic Games. She is also a seven-time world all-around champion, a fifteen-time world single distance champion, and a five-time European all-round champion. In 2014, her outstanding accomplishments earned her the title of Sportswoman of the World, as chosen by Reuters. Her 13 total Olympic medals make her the most decorated speed skater in the history of the Winter Games.
7- Edoardo Mangiarotti
Total Medals: 13
Photo Credit: Listal
Edoardo Mangiarotti is the athlete who won a total of thirteen medals in fencing, six gold, five silver, and two bronze, over five appearances at the Olympic Games from 1936 to 1960. He won gold in the team foil and épée events at the 1936 Berlin games, a bronze in the individual foil at the 1948 London games, a silver in the team épée at the 1952 Helsinki games, and a gold in the same event in both the 1956 Melbourne and 1960 Rome Olympics. He also holds the record for the most medals in a single Olympics, with five in 1956. Mangiarotti was a true Italian fencing great, winning a total of thirteen world championship medals, as well as numerous other national and international titles. He was a true champion, demonstrating both skill and sportsmanship throughout his long career.
6- Boris Shakhlin
Total Medals: 13
Photo Credit: Sportmob
Boris Shakhlin was a legendary Soviet gymnast and one of the most decorated athletes in Olympic history. He won seven gold medals, four silver medals, and two bronze medals over three Olympic Games, spanning from 1956 to 1964. His gold medals were won in the rings, the parallel bars, the horizontal bar and the team all-around event. He also won silver medals in the pommel horse, the floor exercise and the team all-around event.
His bronze medals were won in the individual all-around and the team all-around. Shakhlin was the first gymnast to win seven gold medals in a single Olympic Games, surpassing the previous record of six gold medals by compatriot Viktor Chukarin. He was also the first gymnast to win eight medals at a single Olympic Games. Shakhlin’s remarkable achievements solidified his place in Olympic history and earned him the recognition of being one of the all-time greatest gymnasts.
5- Ole Einar Bjørndalen
Total Medals: 13
Photo Credit: ZDF
Ole Einar Bjørndalen is one of the most decorated Olympians of all time. He has a total of 13 Olympic medals, including 8 gold, 4 silver, and 1 bronze. He is the only biathlete to win 8 medals at the Winter Olympics. Ole won gold medals in the 10 km sprint, the 20 km, and the 4×7.5 km relay at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. He also won gold in the 10 km sprint and 4×7.5 km relay at the 2006 Turin Olympics.
At the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, he won silver in the 10 km sprint and bronze in the 4×7.5 km relay. In 2014, he won gold in the 4×7.5 km relay and silver in the 12.5 km pursuit at the Sochi Olympics. He won silver in the 10 km sprint and 4×7.5 km relay at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. His impressive Olympic medal tally makes him one of the greatest Olympians of all time.
4- Nikolai Andrianov
Total Medals: 15
Photo Credit: NY Times
Nikolai Andrianov was a Soviet gymnast who won an impressive 15 Olympic medals. He was the first gymnast ever to win medals in five consecutive Olympic games, from 1972 to 1988. During the 1972 Munich Olympics, Andrianov won gold medals in the team and vault competitions. At the 1976 Montreal Olympics, he earned three gold medals in the team and pommel horse events. Andrianov added two more gold medals in the 1980 Moscow Olympics, including one in the all-around competition. At the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, he won his 14th and 15th medals, a silver in the vault and a gold in the rings. Andrianov’s 15 Olympic medals make him the second most decorated gymnast in history, trailing only Larisa Latynina’s 18. He was also the first gymnast ever to receive the Order of Lenin, the highest award in the Soviet Union.
3- Marit Bjorgen
Total Medals: 15
Photo Credit: Eurosport
Marit Bjorgen is a Norwegian cross-country skier who has won an impressive total of 15 Olympic medals. She has won 8 gold medals, 4 silver medals, and 3 bronze medals. She made her Olympic debut in 2002, competing in the Salt Lake City Winter Games. Her most successful Olympics was in Vancouver in 2010, where she won 4 gold medals. She competed in her fourth Olympic Games in Sochi in 2014, where she won 3 medals – 1 gold, 1 silver, and 1 bronze. In 2018, she competed in her fifth Olympics in Pyeongchang, and won 2 gold medals. Bjorgen is the most decorated athlete in Winter Olympic history and has a total of 15 Olympic medals, which is more than any other athlete in history. She is a true inspiration to athletes everywhere, showing that with hard work and dedication, anything is possible.
2- Larisa Latynina
Total Medals: 18
Photo Credit: Olimpiada Tododia
Larisa Latynina is a legendary Soviet gymnast who is widely regarded as one of the greatest Olympic athletes of all time. She competed in three consecutive Olympics, from 1956 to 1964, and won a remarkable total of 18 Olympic medals – 9 gold, 5 silver and 4 bronze. She is the most decorated female Olympian ever, and holds the record for the most medals won in a single edition of the Olympics (6 in Melbourne in 1956).
Latynina’s achievements in gymnastics were remarkable, as she won medals in every single event she entered. She won gold medals in the all-around, floor exercise, team competition, vault, and uneven bars. Her silver medals came in the balance beam and team competition, while her bronze medals were in the all-around and uneven bars. Her 18 total Olympic medals have never been matched by any female athlete, and her record is unlikely to be ever broken.
1- Michael Phelps
Total Medals: 28
Photo Credit: New Yorker
Michael Phelps is an Olympic legend. He has won a total of 28 Olympic medals, making him the most decorated Olympian of all time. He has won an incredible 23 gold medals, 3 silver medals, and 2 bronze medals. His success in the Olympics has been unparalleled. Phelps’ Olympic career began in 2000 at the age of 15 when he competed in the Sydney games. He won his first gold medal in the 200m butterfly event. He went on to win 6 gold medals at the 2004 Athens Olympics and 8 gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Phelps won 4 gold medals and 2 silver medals at the 2012 London Olympics and 5 gold medals and 1 silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. He has truly achieved Olympic greatness and will be remembered for years to come.