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Most medals won by US athletes in a single edition of the Summer Olympics

Michael Phelps: 8 gold medals: Beijing Olympics: Swimming
Michael Phelps: 8 gold medals: Beijing Olympics: Swimming
ANALYST
Modified 11 Feb 2021
Feature

The USA has been a dominant force at the Summer Olympics, having won a plethora of medals in the past editions of the Games. The United States' dominance is reinforced by the fact that they occupy the numero uno position in the overall medal tally at the Summer Olympics.

Most medals won by US athletes in single Olympic Games
Most medals won by US athletes in single Olympic Games

Team USA has stood atop the medal tally in five of the six previous editions of the Games, establishing their hegemony further. One of the major reasons for this is its galaxy of sporting legends who have earned multiple medals in single editions of the Olympics.

Let's take a look at the athletes from the United States who have won most medals in a single edition of the Games.


#5 Willis A Lee - 5 golds, 1 silver, 1 bronze at 1920 Antwerp Olympics

The US Olympic team at the 1920 Antwerp Olympics
The US Olympic team at the 1920 Antwerp Olympics

Willis Augustus Lee was the most successful athlete at the 1920 Summer Olympics. The skilled shooter participated in 14 events at the Games, taking home 7 team medals, including five gold, one silver, and one bronze.

He won gold medals in 600m free rifle, 300+600m free rifle, free rifle, 300m free rifle, and 50m small-bore rifle. Further, Lee won a silver in 300m free rifle (standing) and a bronze in the 10m running deer event.

Lee, along with his teammate, Lloyd Spooner, held the record for most medals won at a single Olympics for more than 60 years.

#4 Matt Biondi - 5 golds, 1 silver, 1 bronze at 1988 Seoul Olympics

Matt Biondi at 1988 Seoul Olympics
Matt Biondi at 1988 Seoul Olympics

Matt Biondi is a former competitive swimmer and a 11-time Olympic medallist. The American swimmer was at his best at the 1988 Games when he tried to replicate Mark Spitz’s Munich haul of seven gold medals.

Biondi succeeded in winning seven medals but failed to win seven golds. He won 5 gold, 1 silver, and 1 bronze medal. Biondi's five golds came in the 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, and all three relays. Besides, he finished 2nd in 100m butterfly and third in 200m freestyle.

#3 Mark Spitz - 7 golds at 1972 Munich Olympics

Mark Spitz
Mark Spitz

Mark Spitz is one of the greatest swimmers of all time. After a disappointing performance at the 1968 Mexico Olympics, Spitz came back stronger 4 years later at the 1972 Olympics.

Over 8 days, he entered 7 events, won all of them, and set a world record in each. Spitz's victories came in 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle, 100m butterfly, 200m butterfly, 4*100m freestyle relay, 4*200m freestyle replay, and 4*100m medley relay.

Notably, Spitz held the record for most gold medals won at a single Olympic Games for 36 years.

#2 Michael Phelps - 6 Golds and 2 bronze medals at 2004 Athens Olympics

Michael Phelps at Athens
Michael Phelps at Athens

Michael Phelps entered the 2004 Athens Olympics with an intent to break Mark Spitz's record of 7 gold medals in a single edition. He started with a gold in the 400m individual medley and then won bronze medals in the 4x100m freestyle and 200m freestyle events.

Phelps stood atop the podium again in 200m butterfly, which was followed by a gold in the 4*200m freestyle relay. Further, he won two more golds in the 200m individual medley and 100m butterfly event.

Surprisingly, Phelps opted out of the 4x100m medley final, allowing Ian Crocker to swim. Eventually, the American team won and even Phelps was offered a gold medal.

Within a week, the 19-year-old won 5 gold and 2 bronze medals. Phelps became the second male swimmer ever to win more than two individual titles at a single Games with four, tying Spitz.

#1 Michael Phelps - 8 Golds at 2008 Beijing Olympics

Beijing Olympics: US Swimming Team
Beijing Olympics: US Swimming Team

Michael Phelps has won the most medals in a single edition of the Summer Olympics. He is the most decorated Olympian of all time. From Athens 2004 to Rio 2016, Phelps won 23 gold medals, along with three silver and two bronze medals.

However, the star American swimmer's standout performances were at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He won a staggering 8 gold medals - in 4*100m medley, 100m butterfly, 200m butterfly, 200m individual medley, 4*200m freestyle relay, 200m freestyle, 400m individual medley, and 4*100m freestyle relay.

In doing so, Phelps broke Mark Spitz's 36-year record of seven gold medals won at the Munich Games.

Published 09 Feb 2021
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