In most sports and for most athletes, the Olympics are considered the Holy Grail. Held every four years, the Olympic Games alternate between the Summer Olympics and Winter Olympics, with both of those events being held every two years during a four-year period.
With approximately 200 nations competing in the Olympics, the event is widely considered the largest sporting event on the planet.
Winning an Olympic medal is the culmination of years of hard work, toil and sweat. Winning a single medal itself is considered the highlight of many athletes' careers and lives. However, there are some sporting legends who have gone on to win multiple medals in their discipline, transcending from Olympic medal-winners to Olympic legends.
Let's take a look at the 5 Female Sportspersons with the most medals in the history of the Summer Olympics.
(Note* - ranking is based on overall medals won; In case athletes have won the same number of overall medals, the number of gold medals won have been used as the deciding factor to rank them).
#5 - Natalie Coughlin - United States - Swimming - 2004, 2008, 2012
(Ranking - Athlete - Nation - Sports - Years of Olympic participation)
Total - 12 (Gold - 3, Silver - 4, Bronze - 5)
Natalie Coughlin has won 12 Olympic medals in her career, which includes 3 golds.
At the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Coughlin won five medals, including her first two gold medals.
Four years later, at the 2008 Summer Olympics, she won her biggest haul of six medals, including her third gold.
Coughlin won her 12th and final medal - a bronze - at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
With 12 medals, Coughlin is tied along with Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres for most all-time medals won by a female swimmer.
#4 - Dara Torres - United States - Swimming - 1984, 1988, 1992, 2000, 2008
Total - 12 (Gold - 4, Silver - 4, Bronze - 4)
Dara Torres has won 12 Olympic medals (four gold, four silver, four bronze) in her career.
She is one of three women with the most Olympic women's swimming medals (the others being fellow Americans Jenny Thompson and Natalie Coughlin).
Torres won her first medal - a gold - at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
She went on to win two medals at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul and a gold at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.
Torres' biggest haul came at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, where she won 5 medals, including 2 gold.
At her final Summer Olympics appearance in 2008, she won three silver medals to complete her Olympic career with 12 medals.
Torres is among a select group of Olympians to win a medal in five different editions of the Olympic Games.
#3 - Jenny Thompson - United States - Swimming - 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004
Total - 12 (Gold - 8, Silver - 3, Bronze - 1)
Jenny Thompson has won 12 Olympic gold medals in her career - eight of those being gold.
All of Thompson's eight gold medals have came in the relay events - the 4x100m freestyle (1992, 1996, 2000), the 4x200 freestyle (1996, 2000) and the 4x100m medley (1992, 1996, 2000).
Thompson also won a silver at the 1992 Summer Olympics and a bronze at the 2000 Summer Olympics.
At the 2004 Summer Olympics, she won two silvers to end her Olympic career with a 12-medal haul.
#2 - Birgit Fischer - Germany - Canoe Sprint - 1980, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004
Total - 12 (Gold - 8, Silver - 4, Bronze - 0)
At 20-years-old, Birgit Fischer won her first gold at the 1980 Moscow Games - making her the youngest champion in the history of Olympic kayaking.
After missing the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles due to East Germany’s boycott, Fischer returned at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, where she won 2 golds and a silver.
She went on to claim 1 gold and 1 silver each at the next two Olympic Games, followed by two golds at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney.
In Athens in 2004, Fischer came out of retirement for one last hurrah, winning one gold and one silver at the age of 42.
With 12 medals in canoe sprint, she is the sport's leading Olympic medal winner.
#1 - Larisa Latynina - Soviet Union - Gymnastics - 1956, 1960, 1964
Total - 18 (Gold - 9, Silver - 5, Bronze - 4)
Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina won four gold medals in her appearance at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, including the vault women, floor exercises, individual all-round, and team competition.
At the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Latynina picked up another six medals, including three gold in the team competition, floor exercises, and the individual all-round.
In her final Summer Olympics appearance at the 1964 Games in Tokyo, Latynina picked up her another six medals - including two golds in the floor exercises and the team competition.
Latynina was the first athlete in any sport to have won 18 Olympic medals, a record that has been bettered only by the legendary American swimmer Michael Phelps.