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Which athletes have won the most medals in Olympic history?

We take a look at the most successful Olympians in the history of the Summer and Winter Games.

Which athletes have won the most medals in Olympic history?
Laurence GriffithsGetty Images

American swimming legend Michael Phelps has won more medals than any other athlete in the history of the modern Olympic Games, having amassed a total of 28 during his career.

Phelps' 28 Olympic medals include a record 23 golds

Phelps, who appeared at five Summer Games between 2000 and 2016, claimed 23 gold medals, three silvers and two bronzes. His haul of golds is also an Olympic record.

Phelps additionally boasts the record for the most medals won at a single Games, after collecting eight on two occasions, at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.

Phelps became most successful Olympian in 2012

Phelps became the Olympics’ most decorated athlete of all time at London 2012, surpassing a record tally that had remained unbroken for the previous 48 years.

He overtook former Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina, who accrued 18 medals - nine gold, five silver and four bronze - at Melbourne 1956, Rome 1960 and Tokyo 1964.

Latynina was in London to witness the race that saw Phelps beat her haul - and expressed a desire to present him with his record-breaking medal. However, she was told by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that Olympic rules did not allow it.

Most decorated Winter Olympian and Paralympian

The most successful athlete to have competed in the Winter Olympics is Norwegian cross-country skier Marit Bjorgen, who collected 15 medals - eight gold, four silver and three bronze - between 2002 and 2018.

Meanwhile, the most decorated Paralympian in history has almost as many medals as Phelps, Latynina and Bjorgen put together: between 1980 and 2004, US swimmer Trischa Zorn won no fewer than 55, of which 41 were gold, nine were silver and five were bronze.


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