The 32nd edition of the Summer Olympics finally seems to be starting in a few days. After the postponement due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Tokyo 2020 edition will start in these days. An edition that will go down in history for the shift from 2020 to 2021. But hopefully it will also be remembered for the many competitions that will take place. In today’s article we are going to analyse the Olympic medals from 1896 to 2016. We will show the nations with the most medals, the most successful athletes and much more. Enjoy your reading: Olympic Games medal table – 1896/2021.
Olympic Medals Table – Top 15 Nations by Gold Medals – 1896/2021
Let’s start with the simplest fact. Who is in the lead in the Olympic medal table? In this case we are talking about gold medals. At the end of the Rio 2016 Olympics, the nation with the most gold medals at the Summer Olympics was the United States. With 1023, the United States definitely leads the list of nations with the most gold medals at the Olympics. In second place is the USSR, which with 395 gold medals is firmly behind the United States. If we add the medals of the USSR and Russia, the total is 547. More than half as many as the USA. In third place is Great Britain with 264 and in fourth place China with 227 gold medals. In the top positions we find many European nations including France with 211, Italy with 206 and Germany with 192. Again, the calculation of Germany does not include East and West Germany. The Netherlands closes the list of the world’s top 15 nations for gold medals with 85. Japan, the host nation of the 32nd edition, is also in the top 15.
And who won the most gold medals in the first edition in Athens in 1896? With 14 participating nations, the first edition of the Olympics was still led by the United States, which won 11 gold medals over 120 years ago. In second place was Greece with 10 gold medals and in third place Germany with 6. In the first edition in 1896, 4 nations did not win a single medal (gold, silver and bronze). These included Bulgaria, Chile, Italy and Sweden. All other nations won at least one gold, including the Mixed Team who won a total of 2 medals, 1 gold and 1 bronze. Greece was also the nation that won the most medals overall: 46. Of these, 19 were bronze, 17 silver and 10 gold.
All-time Olympic Games medal table
As we said above, the counting of the medal table can be done in two ways. Taking into account the evolution of nations or not. If, for example, the data of the USSR and Russia are added together, the figures change. In fact, the total number of medals won in this case is 1556, of which 50 gold, 486 silver and 480 bronze. The same can be said for Germany (with some historical differences). If we add the data from East and West Germany to Germany, the total number of medals won rises to 1346. This includes 428 gold, 444 silver and 474 bronze medals. Geramnia’s lead over the USA is still strong, but not as strong as before. Not only that, but Geramnia is close to Russia.
The situation is completely different if we consider the Soviet Union as a single nation and if we consider East and West Germany individually. The case of the Soviet Union is very interesting: although it participated in only 10 Olympic Games, it won a total of 1010 medals, of which 395 were gold, 319 silver and 296 bronze. Even East Germany, despite having participated in only five games, ranks ninth in the total with 409 medals, 153 of which are gold.
Gold Medal evolution
In the following graph you can see the trends nation by nation of gold medals won.
Not only that, in this graph you can see the comparative trend of nations.
Top 10 nations for gold medals
But the current top 10 nations in the world by number of gold medals, in what editions did they go “strong”? In this graph it is interesting to note that the United States from the first edition onwards have always won many medals. Except for the edition held in 1980 in USSR, in Moscow, where the United States did not participate (the same happened 4 years later for USSR that did not participate in Los Angeles 1984) the American state has always had a linear growth of the curve. A different matter instead for China that until 1980 has never won a gold medal but since 1984 has continued to grow winning 26 gold medals only in the last edition of the Olympics going from 201 to 227.
Top 60 multiple Olympic medalists
But having seen which nations have won the most medals at the Summer Olympics, let’s try to answer the second question. Which athletes have won the most medals at the Olympic Games?
(The number refers to the position in relation to the Summer and Winter Olympics). At the top of this list is Michael Phelps. Between 2004 and 2016, the American swimmer won a total of 28 medals. Of these, 23 were gold, 3 silver and 2 bronze. Phelps holds the record for the most medals won by a single athlete at the Summer Olympics, followed by Larisa Latynina. The Soviet Union gymnast who won a total of 18 medals from 1956 to 1964, half of which – nine – were gold. In the first positions three athletes are from the Soviet Union. In addition to the aforementioned Latynina, we find Andrianov and Shakhlin. In fifth place is an Italian, Edoardo Mangiarotti, who won a total of 13 gold medals from 1936 to 1960. Mangiarotti is fifth for total medals won in the Summer Olympics and seventh if we also count the winners of the Winter Olympics medals. Among the top positions are also two Japanese: Takashi Ono, with 13 medals, five of them gold, and Sakao Kato with 12 medals, eight of them gold.
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