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Top 25 American Olympic Athletes
1. Carl Lewis
won 10 Olympic medals including 9 golds, and 10 World Championships medals, of which 8 were golds, in a career that spanned from 1979 when he first achieved a world ranking to 1996 when he last won an Olympic title and subsequently retired.
1984 Los Angeles Gold 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay, Long jump
1988 Seoul Gold 100m, Long jump, Silver 200m
1992 Barcelona Gold 4x100m relay, Long jump
1996 Atlanta Gold Long jump
ranked among the all-time greatest athletes in the women's heptathlon as well as in the women's long jump. She won three gold, one silver, and two bronze Olympic medals, in those two different events. "Sports Illustrated" magazine voted her the Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th century.
1984 Los Angeles Silver Long jump, Heptathlon
1988 Seoul Gold Long jump, Heptathlon
1992 Barcelona Bronze Long jump
1996 Atlanta Bronze Long jump
3. Jesse Owens
surprised many by winning four gold medals: On August 3, 1936 he won the 100m sprint, defeating Ralph Metcalfe; on August 4, the long jump (later crediting friendly and helpful advice from German competitor Luz Long); on August 5, the 200m sprint; and, after he was added to the 4 x 100 m relay team, his fourth on August 9, a performance not equaled until Carl Lewis won gold medals in the same events at the 1984 Summer Olympics.
1936 Berlin Gold 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay, Long jump
4. Mark Spitz
holds the record for most gold medals won in a single Olympic Games, which he set at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany. He remains the only Olympic athlete to both win a gold medal in every individual event he entered in a given year, and to set a new world record in each such event.
1968 Mexico Gold 4x100 meter freestyle, 4x200 meter freestyle
1968 Mexico Silver 100 meter butterfly
1968 Mexico Bronze 100 meter freestyle
1972 Munich Gold 100 m freestyle, 200 m freestyle, 100 m butterfly, 200 m butterfly, 4x100 m freestyle relay, 4x200 m freestyle relay and the 4x100 m medley relay
5. Michael Johnson
is the only male sprint athlete in history to win both the 200 m and 400 m events at the same Olympics, a feat he accomplished at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. Johnson is the only man to successfully defend his Olympic title in the 400 m.
1992 Barcelona Gold 4x400 m relay
1996 Atlanta Gold 200 m and 400 m
2000 Sydney Gold 400 m
6. Bob Beamon
set a world record for the long jump with a jump of 29 ft. 2½ inches. It was one of the most astounding feats in the history of the Olympics. When the announcer called out the distance for the jump, an astonished Beamon collapsed to his knees and placed his hands over his face in shock. Prior to Beamon’s jump, the world record had been broken thirteen times since 1901, with an average increase of 6 cm (2½ in) and the largest increase being 6 inches. Beamon’s gold medal mark bettered the existing record by 21 inches as he became the first person to reach both 28 and 29 feet.
1968 Mexico Gold - Long Jump
7. Al Oerter
was the first modern track and field athlete to win four consecutive Olympic titles in one event. Oerter won Olympic gold medals in 1956, 1960, 1964 and 1968. Only Carl Lewis has duplicated the record, winning the long jump from 1984 through 1996. Oerter’s sweep was all the more remarkable because in each case he broke the Olympic record, beat the world record holder, overcame an injury and was not the favorite to win. His winning throws were 184 feet 11 inches in Melbourne in 1956, 194-2 in Rome in 1960, 200-1 in Tokyo in 1964 and 212-6 in Mexico City in 1968.
1956 Melbourne Gold - Discus
1960 Rome Gold - Discus
1964 Tokyo Gold - Discus
1968 Mexico City Gold - Discus
8. Wilma Rudolph
became the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field during a single Olympic Games, despite running on a sprained ankle. A track and field champion, she elevated women's track to a major presence in the United States. But, as a child, she had polio and her mother, Blanche Rudolph kept telling her polio-stricken daughter she would one day walk without braces.
1956 Melbourne Bronze - 4 x 100 m relay
1960 Rome Gold - 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay
9. Jim Thorpe
is considered one of the most versatile athletes in modern sports. He won Olympic gold medals in the pentathlon and decathlon in Stockholm in 1912. King Gustav V of Sweden said to Thorpe, "Sir, you are the greatest athlete in the world!" Thorpe replied, "Thanks, King."
1912 Stockholm Gold - Pentathlon and Decathlon
10. Babe Didrikson
sentered eight events in the 1932 AAU Championships(the de facto US Olympic Trials), She won five outright and tying first for a sixth. In the process, she set five world records in a single afternoon. Didrikson's performance was enough to win the team championship, despite being the only member of her team.
As the AAU Championships were the de facto US Olympic Trials, Didrikson qualified for the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. She was limited to entering three events there, the javelin throw, the 80 m hurdles and the high jump. She nearly won all three events: she won gold medals in the javelin and hurdles and cleared the same height as compatriot Jean Shiley in the high jump (with whom she had tied in the AAU Championship). The jury, however, disapproved of her style of jumping over headfirst and declared Shiley the Olympic champion. After the Games, Shiley and Didrikson split their medals.
1932 Los Angeles Gold - Javelin, 80m Hurdles
1932 Los Angeles Silver - High Jump
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