There is something about competitive sports that draws us in, whether we have participated in a local basketball or softball league or have trained diligently for them throughout our high school and college careers. The Olympics, which are a showcase of athletic prowess, endurance, and accomplishment, and an occasion to witness athletes pushing the envelope of human performance, serve as an even better example of this allure.
An aspirant athlete’s path to the Olympics is not an easy one; hours of intense practice, mental imagery, and meticulous self-care are all necessary components of the success formula that must be followed in order to win the gold. With the Tokyo Olympics taking place after a year’s delay, there is undoubtedly excitement in the air and more people watching than in previous years. Let’s take a look at some of the most incredible records in Olympic history that might endure.
Nadia Comaneci: Perfect 10 Score – Gymnastics, 1976 (Montreal)
We had nothing to look forward to but nearly flawless gymnastics routines up until the tiny pistol Nadia Comaneci stepped up to represent Romania in Montreal in 1976. When you consider that Comaneci was only 14 at the time, this is even more astounding.
She not only received a perfect score of 10 from each judge, but she also went on to win six more gold medals at the Olympics with six more perfect scores, making her a legend in her field.
Javier Sotomayor: 2.45 Meters – High Jump, 1992 Olympics (Barcelona)
In the 1990s, Javier Sotomayor was the athlete to watch in the high jump competition because of his strength, endurance, and speed.
Sotomayor is the only person to date to have cleared this height in competition; his personal best was an impressive 2.45 meters, or over 8 feet.
Usain Bolt: 9.54 and 19.30 Seconds – 100 Meter And 200 Meter Relays, 2008 (Beijing)
Usain Bolt of Jamaica won three gold medals at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, where he competed against American swimmer Michael Phelps for the top prize.
The Jamaican sprinter’s times of 9.54 for the 100-meter and 19.30 for the 200-meter were arguably impressive, despite the majority of attention being on Phelps’ eight gold medals.
United States: 239 Overall Medals, 1904 (St. Louis)
While statistically speaking, the United States has performed well in all Olympic competitions, none are quite as memorable as the 1904 games in St. Louis, where they completely dominated the competition.
With 78 gold, 82 silver, and 79 bronze medals, this victory on home soil is the most comprehensive in Olympic history.
China: 53 Gold Medals in Table Tennis
If you are a devoted Olympic fan, you have probably noticed China’s significant advantage over the rest of the world in table tennis.
Astonishingly, 53 gold medals have been won thanks to disciplined training, and South Korea is making an effort to catch up with only 18 victories.
Dick Fosbury: 7 Feet, 4 Inches – High Jump, 1968 (Mexico City)
Since Fosbury made his international debut for the United States in 1968, his record-breaking maneuver has become so well-known that it has been used to secure victories in the high jump.
Fosbury’s “Flop,” a patented back arch over the high jump bar, allowed him to jump 7’4″ and set an Olympic record in 1968.
Greg Louganis: 99-Point Dive – Diving, World Aquatic Championships (1983)
Greg Louganis, an American who was already becoming well-known in the early 1980s, missed the Olympics in 1980 because of the Soviet Union’s boycott, making the 1984 Los Angeles Games his first Olympics.
With a score of 100 points higher than his silver-clad competitors in both springboard and platform, Louganis destroyed the competition on the board.
Bob Beamon: 8.90 Meters – Long Jump, 1968 (Mexico City)
The long jump performed better than anticipated at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. Bob Beamon volunteered to win the gold in this rare occurrence. Officials in Mexico City initially lacked the tools necessary to measure Beamon’s jump because it was so far away.
Despite seeing 8.90 meters on the scoreboard, Bob Beamon, who is not accustomed to using metric measurements, was unaware that this translated to 29 feet and 2.5 inches, which is nearly 22 inches longer than the previous record.
Florence Griffith Joyner: 10.62 seconds – 100-Meter Dash, 1988 (Seoul)
Florence Griffith Joyner is the fastest female competitor and runner in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes, earning her two impressive titles.
Others have since clocked times faster than her impressive 10.62 and 21.34 seconds, but none in an Olympic setting. She was the first to receive the honor, which she renown won in Seoul, South Korea.
US Softball Team: .343 Team Batting Average – Softball, 2004 (Athens)
With an astounding.343 team batting average and combined 73 hits over the nine games, the 2004 US Softball team earned the moniker “The Real Dream Team” from sportscasters as they shattered opponents and set records at the summer games.
The team won the competition with a 51:1 score, breaking nine other records while only allowing one run in the sixth inning. One of the ten Olympic teams inducted into the United States is this one. Sports Hall of Fame.
Inge de Bruijn: 53.80 Seconds – 100-Meter Butterfly, 2008 (Beijing)
The Dutch swimmer Inge de Bruijn is always looking to push past her own boundaries and shatter her own personal records.
She had previously broken a record in Sydney in 2000, but it seems that wasn’t good enough for her. In 2008 in Beijing, she swam the 100-meter butterfly in 53.80 seconds, beating her previous record by a full body length.
Kenenisa Bekele: 12:57.82 Minutes – 5000 Meter Race, 2008 (Beijing)
Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele won gold in several long-distance events, shattering records that date back to 1980.
Bekele broke his previous records for 2004 by winning gold in both the 5000- and 10,000-meter races in Beijing. He also broke the previous 5000-meter record by a full eight seconds, securing his position as the world champion.
Birgit Fischer: Medals 24 Years Apart – Kayaking, 2004 (Sydney)
After competing in five Olympic games, Birgit Fischer simply wasn’t winning enough gold; she had to return 24 years after her first one to do so. As the youngest and oldest paddler to win a gold medal, she holds the distinction.
The legendary kayaker helped Germany win a sixth gold medal despite being behind her team and four Hungarian competitors at the halfway point.
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Michael Phelps: 23 Gold Medals – Swimming, 2004-2016 (Athens, Beijing, London, Rio)
Michael Phelps, an American, may be the greatest Olympian to ever compete; from 2004 to 2016, his resounding victories in the pool earned him 23 gold medals. He even surpassed his fellow countryman Mark Spitz’s 2008 Olympic record of seven gold medals.
It’s unlikely that anyone will surpass this feat any time soon because he has more medals under his speedo than nations like Portugal, Morocco, and Nigeria.