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Facts and Figures in Athletics at the Olympics

Some 20,629 athletes from 219 country teams have competed in athletics at 28 stagings of the Olympic Games. Currently 953 gold medals have been awarded across 951 events. This total includes 950 regular golds plus three more. An extra gold in the 1908 menfs pole vault where there were two champions, plus the additional two golds awarded posthumously to Jim Thorpe for the 1912 Pentathlon and Decathlon. Excluded from that golds total is one more which was taken back by the IOC, and not redistributed as at June 10, 2016. That is the womenfs 100m of the 2000 Olympic Games. Marion Jones (USA) was disqualified for a doping violation, but the IOC did not pass her medal to the runner-up, Katerina Thanou (GRE) . Included in the total of 952 are golds from three 2012 events where the winner has been disqualified by the IAAF for drug-taking. These events are the menfs 50km Walk and womenfs 1500m & 3000m Steeplechase. As at June 10, 2016, the IOC have not publicly announced any re-allocations of all these medals, though Habiba Ghribi (TUN) already received a gold medal in a special ceremony on June 4, 2016. Another is planned for Jared Tallent (AUS) on June 17, 2016. For the purpose of this book, the winners of those three events . Tallent, Gamze Bulut (TUR) and Ghribi . are shown as the victors on placing tables. The medals and placings of those disqualified are not counted.

Katerina Thanou
The largest edition of Olympic athletics was in Sydney 2000 with 2137 athletes from 193 countries competing in 46 events. The number of participants was more than double that of the Games of 1968, 1976 or 1980. The official total of countries in 2000 was 194, but that included Nauru, whose one entrant (Cherico Detenamo) did not actually compete in the first round of the menfs 100m. The most countries to have competed at a Games is 202 in 2012. That total includes South Sudan and Curacao, whose representatives competed as Independent Olympic Athletes.

The most Games contested by a country in athletics is 28 (all of them, including 1906) by four countries, Australia, France, Great Britain & NI and Greece. Three more countries have missed just one year, Denmark (1904), Sweden (1904) and the United States (1980).

The most Games contested by an athlete is seven by sprinter Merlene Ottey/Page (JAM/SLO) in 1980-2004. The menfs record is six by distance runner Joao N'Tyamba (ANG) in 1988-2008, high jumper Dragutin Topi. (IOP/YUG/SCG/SRB) in 1992-2012 and walker Jesus Angel Garcia (ESP) also in 1992-2012.

The first Olympic Champion in athletics was James Connolly (USA), winner of the triple jump in Athens on April 6, 1896. The most recent champion was Stephen Kiprotich (UGA), who won the marathon in London on August 13, 2012.

The most medals won by a country is 785.8 by the United States, with the fraction resulting from the 1904 team race where only four-fifths of the silver-winning team were actually American.

James Conolly an American Won The First ‘Modern’ Olympic Medal
Shirley Strickland de la Hunty Australian athlete
The most medals won by an individual athlete is 12 by distance runner Paavo Nurmi (FIN) in 1920-28. His greatest year was 1924 with five golds including the 1500m and 5000m within 90 minutes. The most by a woman is nine by sprinter Merlene Ottey/Page (JAM) at 100m, 200m and 4x100m in 1980, 1984 and 1992-2000. She won three silvers and six bronzes, missing the 1996 100m gold by a margin of just five-thousandths of a second. Shirley Strickland (AUS) won seven medals at 100m, 200m, 80m hurdles and 4x100m relay in 1948- 1956. Photo-finish evidence from London 1948 proved that she should have taken one more medal, a bronze from the 200m. She was officially placed fourth and that result has so far not been amended, though Athletics Australia have made a new bid for Strickland to be awarded an additional medal.

The most individual medals, and also the most gold medals won is 10 by Ray Ewry (USA) at standing jumps events in 1900-1908. He scored 10 wins from 10 starts in the standing high, long and triple jumps, all events which have been discontinued. The women's record is held by Merlene Ottey/Page (JAM) at 100m (three medals) and 200m (four).

The most golds won by a woman is four by six women. Fanny Blankers-Koen (NED) won the 100m, 200m, 80m hurdles and 4x100m in 1948. Betty Cuthbert (AUS) won at 100m, 200m and 4x100m in 1956 then took the 400m title in 1964. Bδrbel Eckert/Wφckel (GDR) won at both 200m and 4x100m in 1976 and 1980. Evelyn Ashford (USA) won the 100m and 4x100m in 1984 and went on to take sprint relay golds at the next two Games. In 2012, Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards Ross (both USA) took their fourth golds. Felix won the 4x400m in 2008 and the 200m with both relays in 2012. Richards Ross won the 4x400m in 2004, 2008 and 2012 and also the individual 400m in 2012.

Merlene Ottey/Page (JAM)
Al Oerter won the discus throw in 1956, 1960, 1964 and 1968

The longest winning streak of Olympic titles at four successive Games is a distinction achieved four times by three men, all from the United States: Ray Ewry succeeded at the standing high and long jumps in 1900, 1904, 1906 and 1908. Al Oerter won the discus throw in 1956, 1960, 1964 and 1968. Carl Lewis was long jump champion in 1984, 1988, 1992 and 1996. The best “four Games” sequence by a woman is now held by Derartu Tulu (ETH) with her series of finishes in the 10,000m in 1992-2004 of gold-4th-gold-bronze.


The most golds won at a single Games is five by Paavo Nurmi (FIN) in 1924, with victories at 1500m, 5000m, 3000m team and cross country (individual and team). Four golds at one Games were won by Alvin Kraenzlein (USA) in 1900, Ville Ritola (FIN) in 1924, Jesse Owens (USA) in 1936 and Carl Lewis (USA) in 1984. Fanny Blankers-Koen (NED) was also a quadruple champion in 1948 as noted above.

The oldest Olympic Champion in athletics was Pat McDonald (USA), who won the 56-pound weight throw in 1920 at the age of 42 years 26 days. The oldest female winner was Ellina Zvereva (BLR), discus throw champion in 2000 at 39 years 316 days.
 The youngest gold medallist was Barbara Jones (USA), who ran the second leg for the winning sprint relay team in 1952 at 15 years 123 days. The youngest male winner was Bob Mathias (USA), decathlon champion in 1947 at 17 years 263 days.
Lia Manoliu (ROU)
 Sweeps of all available medals have been achieved 88 times, most recently by Jamaica in the men’s 200m of 2012.
 The most finals or placings in the top eight at the same event is six by discus thrower Lia Manoliu (ROU) who placed 6th-9th-bronze-bronze- gold-9th in 1952-1972. The most by a man is five by the Ukrainian Vladimir Golubnichniy (URS) at 20km walk in 1960-1976, Jan ŽZeleznύ (TCH/SVK/CZE) in the javelin throw 1988-2004, and Virgilijus Alekna (LTU) at discus throw in 1996-2012.
 The most races run in Olympic competition are 53 by Merlene Ottey/Page (JAM) in the various rounds of the 100m, 200m and both relays across seven Games. She won 25 of these, but never in a final. The most by a man is 33 by Pietro Mennea (ITA) at 100m, 200m and both relays in 1972-1988.
Feats which could be achieved in Rio 2016 include a first woman to win individual gold at the third successive Games. Shelly-Ann Fraser- Pryce (JAM), Tirunesh Dibaba (ETH), Barbora Špotαkovα (CZE) and Valerie Adams (NZL) all have the chance to do that. Could the USA’s Allyson Felix or Sanya Richards Ross become the first woman to win a fifth Olympic gold in athletics? Another sprinter, Veronica Campbell-Brown (JAM) could well join Merlene Ottey/Page as a medallist at five different Olympics, but the biggest Jamaican feat could be from Usain Bolt if he can win a third successive gold at 100m or 200m. That’s never been done in any individual track event. Jesϊs Αngel Garcνa (ESP) is already selected for the 50 kilometres walk, so is set to equal Merlene Ottey’s outright appearance record of seven Games. Finally, will the first South American Olympics see triple jumper Caterine Ibargόen win Colombia’s first Olympic athletics gold?

Statistics 1896 - 2012




4 Ray Ewry USA 1900, 1904, 1906, 1908
Al Oerter USA 1956, 1960, 1964, 1968
Vladimir Golubnichniy UKR URS 1960, 1964, 1968, 1972
Viktor Saneyev URS 1968, 1972, 1976, 1980
Carl Lewis USA 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996
Jan Železný SVK/CZE TCH/CZE 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000
3 Myer Prinstein USA 1900, 1904, 1906
John Flanagan USA 1900, 1904, 1908
Martin Sheridan USA 1900, 1904, 1908
Ralph Rose USA 1904, 1908, 1912
George Bonhag USA 1906, 1908, 1912
Eric Lemming SWE 1906, 1908, 1912
Matt McGrath USA 1908, 1912, 1924
Paavo Nurmi FIN 1920, 1924, 1928
Vilho Tuulos FIN 1920, 1924, 1928
Edvin Wide SWE 1920, 1924, 1928
Ugo Frigerio ITA 1920, 1924, 1932
Morgan Taylor USA 1924, 1928, 1932
Phil Edwards CAN 1928, 1932, 1936
Frank Wykoff USA 1928, 1932, 1936
Alain Mimoun FRA 1948, 1952, 1956
Bob Richards USA 1948, 1952, 1956
John Ljunggren SWE 1948, 1956, 1960
Parry O’Brien USA 1952, 1956, 1960
Ralph Boston USA 1960, 1964, 1968
Gergely Kulcsár HUN 1960, 1964, 1968
Gyula Zsivótzky HUN 1960, 1964, 1968
Ludvík Danek TCH 1964, 1968, 1972
Mohamed Gammoudi TUN 1964, 1968, 1972
Jānis Lūsis LAT URS 1964, 1968, 1972
Don Quarrie JAM 1976, 1980, 1984
Yuriy Sedykh RUS URS 1976, 1980, 1988
Edwin Moses USA 1976, 1984, 1988
Maurizio Damilano ITA 1980, 1984, 1988
Patrik Sjöberg SWE 1984, 1988, 1992
Seppo Räty FIN 1988, 1992, 1996
Steve Backley GBR 1992, 1996, 2000
Michael Johnson USA 1992, 1996, 2000
Robert Korzeniowski POL 1996 2000, 2004
Virgilijus Alekna LTU 2000 2004, 2008
Chris Brown BAH 2000 2008, 2012
Angelo Taylor USA 2000 2008, 2012
5 Merlene Ottey/Page JAM 1980, 1984, 1992, 1996, 2000
4 Irena Kirszenstein/Szewińska POL 1964, 1968, 1972, 1976
Jackie Joyner-Kersee USA 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996
Veronica Campbell-Brown JAM 2000, 2004, 2008
3 Shirley Strickland AUS 1948, 1952, 1956
Nina Romashkova/Ponomaryova RUS URS 1952, 1956, 1960
Galina Zybina RUS URS 1952, 1956, 1964
Lia Manoliu ROU 1960, 1964, 1968
Nadezhda Chizhova RUS URS 1968, 1972, 1976
Lyudmila Maslakova RUS URS 1968, 1976, 1980
Sara Simeoni ITA 1976, 1980, 1984
Marlies Oelsner/Göhr GDR 1976, 1980, 1988
Evelyn Ashford USA 1984, 1988, 1992
Heike Drechsler GDR 1988, 1992, 2000
Jearl Miles Clark USA 1992, 1996, 2000
Derartu Tulu ETH 1992 2000, 2004
Tatyana Lebedeva RUS 2000 2004, 2008
Yelena Isinbaeva RUS 2004 2008, 2012
Meseret Defar ETH 2004 2008, 2012
Tirunesh Dibaba ETH 2004 2008, 2012
Allyson Felix USA 2004 2008, 2012
Sanya Richards Ross USA 2004 2008, 2012
Sherone Simpson JAM 2004 2008, 2012
Novlene Williams-Mills JAM 2004 2008, 2012





14 Eric Lemming SWE
12 Paavo Nurmi FIN
11 Martin Sheridan USA
10 Ray Ewry USA
Carl Lewis USA
9 Elmer Niklander FIN
Ville Ritola FIN
Pietro Mennea ITA
8 Phil Edwards CAN
7 Meyer Prinstein USA
George Bonhag USA
Ralph Rose USA
6 João N’Tyamba ANG 1988-2008
Jesús Ángel García ESP 1992-2012
Dragutin Topić IOP/YUG/SCG/SRB 1992-2012
5 Paul Martin SUI 1920-1936
John Ljunggren SWE 1948-1964
Janusz Sidlo POL 1952-1968
Alex Oakley CAN 1956-1976
Abdon Pamich ITA 1956-1972
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan URS (RUS) 1956-1972
Urs von Wartburg SUI 1960-1976
Vladimir Golubnichniy URS (UKR) 1960-1976
Pietro Mennea ITA 1972-1988
Carlos Sala ESP 1980-1996
Chris Maddocks GBR 1984-2000
Giovanni De Benedictis ITA 1988-2004
Mathias Ntawulikura RWA 1988-2004
Jan Železný TCH/CZE 1988-2004
Branko Zorko YUG/CRO 1988-2004
Tim Berrett CAN 1992-2008
Jefferson Pérez ECU 1992-2008
Virgilijus Alekna LTU 1996-2012
Toni Bernadó AND 1996-2012
Aléxandros Papadimitríou GRE 1996-2012
Aleksander Tammert EST 1996-2012
Szymon Ziólkowski POL 1996-2012



14 Merlene Ottey/Page* JAM
9 Shirley Strickland AUS
Raelene Boyle AUS
Veronica Campbell-Brown JAM
8 Gwen Torrence USA
Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie BAH
7 Fanny Blankers-Koen NED
Ingrid Becker/Mickler FRG
Irena Kirszenstein/Szewińska POL
Evelyn Ashford USA
Grace Jackson* JAM
Jackie Joyner-Kersee USA
Juliet Cuthbert* JAM
Sandie Richards JAM
Allyson Felix USA
Sanya Richards-Ross USA
* Also qualified for a further final (the 1988 4x100m), but did not compete due to injury of Ottey
7 Merlene Ottey/Page JAM/SLO 1980-2004
6 Lia Manoliu ROU 1952-1972
Tessa Sanderson GBR 1976-1996
Maria Mutola MOZ 1988-2008
Nicoleta Grasu ROU 1992-2012
5 Olga Fikotová/Connolly USA 1956-1972
Willye White USA 1956-1972
Irena Kirszenstein/Szewińska POL 1964-1980
Pauline Davis BAH 1984-2000
Sabine Braun FRG/GER 1984-2000
Trine Solberg/Hattestad NOR 1984-2000
Gail Devers USA 1988-2004
Fiona May GBR/ITA 1988-2004
Mary Onyali NGR 1988-2004
Fernanda Ribeiro POR 1988-2004
Sandie Richards JAM 1988-2004
Letitia Vriesde SUR 1988-2004
Laverne Eve BAH 1988-2008
Ellina Zvereva URS/BLR 1988-2008
Jackie Edwards BAH 1992-2008
Susana Feitór POR 1992-2008
Irina Yatchenko URS/BLR 1992-2008
Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie BAH 1996-2012
Lidia Șimon ROU 1996-2012
Chandra Sturrup BAH 1996-2012
María Vasco ESP 1996-2012




These are lists of the most rounds contested by a particular athlete. So, for instance, Pietro Mennea has contested a total of 32 different heats,
quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals at the Olympic Games
32 Pietro Mennea ITA 1972-1988
29 Carl Lewis USA 1984-1996
27 Don Quarrie JAM 1972-1984
26 Linford Christie GBR 1988-1996
25 Robson da Silva BRA 1984-1996
53 Merlene Ottey/Page JAM 1980-2004
33 Pauline Davis BAH 1984-2000
Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie BAH 1996-2012
32 Mary Onyali NGR 1988-2004
30 Raelene Boyle AUS 1968-1976
29 Irena Kirszenstein/Szewińska POL 1964-1980
27 Gail Devers USA 1988-2004
26 Shirley Strickland AUS 1948-1956
Juliet Cuthbert JAM 1984-1996
Grace Jackson JAM 1984-1992
Chandra Sturrup BAH 1996-2008
25 Veronica Campbell-Brown JAM 2000-2012


1896 High Jump USA
Long Jump USA
1900 4000m Steeplechase GBR
110 Metres Hurdles USA
Triple Jump USA
Shot Put USA
Hammer Throw USA
Standing High Jump USA
Standing Triple Jump USA
1904 60 Metres USA
100 Metres USA
200 Metres USA
400 Metres USA
800 Metres USA
1500 Metres USA
110 Metres Hurdles USA
200 Metres Hurdles USA
400 Metres Hurdles USA
Pole Vault USA
Long Jump USA
Triple Jump USA
Shot Put USA
Hammer Throw USA
Standing High Jump USA
Standing Long Jump USA
Standing Triple Jump USA
1906 Standing Long Jump USA
Javelin Throw SWE
1908 10 Miles Walk GBR
110 Metres Hurdles USA
Discus Throw USA
1912 100 Metres USA
800 Metres USA
110 Metres Hurdles USA
Pole Vault USA
Triple Jump SWE
-1912 Shot Put USA
Javelin Throw Both Arms FIN
1920 400 Metres Hurdles USA
Javelin Throw FIN
1924 Pole Vault USA
Shot Put USA
1928 3000m Steeplechase FIN
Pole Vault USA
1932 200 Metres USA
Javelin Throw FIN
1936 10,000 Metres FIN
High Jump USA
Decathlon USA
1948 3000m Steeplechase SWE
110 Metres Hurdles USA
Shot Put USA
1952 200 Metres USA
110 Metres Hurdles USA
Shot Put USA
Decathlon USA
1956 200 Metres USA
110 Metres Hurdles USA
400 Metres Hurdles USA
Discus Throw USA
20 Kilometres Walk URS RUS/LTU/EST
1960 110 Metres Hurdles USA
400 Metres Hurdles USA
Shot Put USA
Discus Throw USA
1968 400 Metres USA
1976 Hammer Throw URS RUS/RUS/UKR
1980 Hammer Throw URS RUS/RUS/EST
1984 200 Metres USA
1988 400 Metres USA
Pole Vault URS
Long Jump USA
Hammer Throw URS RUS/RUS/EST
1992 3000m Steeplechase KEN
Long Jump USA
Hammer Throw EUN TJK/BLR/RUS
2004 200 Metres USA
400 Metres USA
3000m Steeplechase KEN
2008 400 Metres USA
400 Metres Hurdles USA
2012 200 Metres JAM
1952 Discus Throw URS RUS/RUS/GEO
1976 Pentathlon GDR
1980 800 Metres URS UKR/RUS/RUS
Pentathlon URS UKR/RUS/RUS
2004 Long Jump RUS
2008 100 Metres JAM


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