The United States’ Olympic track and field team has enjoyed its fair share of dominance over the storied history of the Olympic Games.
U.S. sprinter Carl Lewis won nine gold medals during his career, tied with Finnish distance runner Paavo Nurmi for most all time in track and field. Jamaica’s Usain Bolt is next on the list with eight gold medals. Bolt ran nine races and won nine gold medals, but his 2008 4x100m relay gold was stripped from him after one of Bolt’s teammates, Nesta Carter, tested positive for a banned substance.
U.S. sprinter Allyson Felix has the most gold medals of any woman in Olympic history with six.
Evelyn Ashford and Sanya Richard-Ross are tied for the second-most Olympic medals among American women in track and field with four each.
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As America’s best track and field stars head to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, here is a look at the most dominant runners and field athletes in Olympic history:
Which country has won the most gold medals in track and field?
The United States has won the most Olympic gold medals in track and field history with 335, followed by the Soviet Union with 71 and Great Britain with 56. Finland has the fourth most Olympic gold medals with 48.
Which male Olympian has won the most track and field medals?
Finland’s Paavo Nurmi holds the most Olympic medals in track and field history with 12. Nurmi, who specialized in the men’s 5000m and 10,000m events, captured nine gold medals and three silver medals in the 12 events he participated in during the 1920, 1924 and 1928 Olympics. Nurmi was part of a talented group of Finnish athletes who were nicknamed the “Flying Finns.”
Which female Olympian has won the most track and field medals?
American sprinter Allyson Felix and Jamaica’s Merlene Ottey hold the women’s track and field record for most Olympic medals in history with nine each. Ottey competed in five Olympic games from 1980 to 2000. She won her first bronze medal in the 200m at the 1980 Moscow Games and returned in 1984 to take home two bronze medals in the 100m and 200m in Los Angeles. Ottey won another medal in the 1992 Barcelona Games, where she finished third in the 200m.
Felix is a four-time Olympian, competing in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016. She took home silver in the 200m event at the 2004 Athens Games and returned in 2008 to win silver in the 200m again. Felix secured the first Gold medal of her career as part of the women’s 4x400m team at the 2008 Beijing Games.
Felix didn’t stop there. She made her third straight Olympic appearance at the 2012 London Games and dominated almost every event she competed in. Felix captured the long-awaited Olympic gold medal that had eluded her the past eight years in the 200m event. The U.S. women’s 4x400m relay team defended its Olympic title in London. As part of the 4x100m relay team, Felix won her third gold medal of the 2012 Games by leading the U.S. women to an Olympic record-setting time of 40.82 seconds.
Felix took things to the next level in her fourth Olympic appearance, helping the U.S women’s 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams defend both titles at the 2016 Rio Games. She added a silver medal in the 400m to her total to become one of the most decorated female sprinters in Olympic history.
Which male Olympian won the most track and field medals in a single Olympics?
Finland’s Ville Ritola put on an incredible performance at the 1924 Paris Games, winning six medals in the process. Ritola won gold medals in the 10,000m, the steeplechase, the cross-country and 3,000m team events. Ritola also won silver in the 5000m and cross country individual races, coming in second to his teammate, Nurmi, who won five gold medals of his own that year.
Which female Olympian won the most track and field medals in a single Olympics?
Florence Griffith-Joyner and Fancina Blankers-Koen are tied for the most track medals in a single Olympic Games. Flo-Jo sprinted to three gold medals and a silver medal at the 1988 Seoul Games. She set world records in both the 100m and 200m races that have stood for over 30 years and won her third gold in the 4x100m relay. She added her fourth medal as part of the 4x400m relay team, taking home silver. Griffith-Joyner earned the title of fastest woman alive with her sensational effort at the Seoul Games and became known as one of the most dominant sprinters in Olympic history.
Dutch athlete Fancina “Fanny” Blankers-Koen won four medals at the 1948 London Olympics at 30 years old. The mother of two was a star in London, winning gold in the 100m, 200m and 80m hurdles and helping the Netherlands win the 4x100m relay. Blankers-Keon accomplished the incredible feat while pregnant with her third child. She rightfully earned the nickname “the Flying Housewife” and was one of the most successful athletes of the 1948 Games.
What are the Olympic records in track and field?
Here are some of the Olympic records in track and field:
Men’s 100m: Usain Bolt | 9.63 seconds | Aug. 5, 2012
Women’s 100m: Florence Griffith-Joyner | 10.62 seconds | Sept. 24, 1988
Men’s 200m: Usain Bolt | 19.30 seconds | Aug. 20, 2012
Women’s 200m: Florence Griffith-Joyner | 21.34 seconds | Sept. 29. 1988
Men’s 4x100m relay: Jamaica (Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, Yohan Blake, Usain Bolt) | 36.84 seconds | Aug. 11, 2012
Women’s 4x100m relay: United States (Tianna Bartoletta, Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight, Carmelita Jeter) | 40.82 seconds | Aug. 10, 2012
Men’s 4x400m relay: United States (LaShawn Merritt, Angelo Taylor, David Neville, Jeremy Wariner) | 2:55.39 seconds | Aug. 23, 2008
Women’s 4x400m relay: Soviet Union (Tatyana Ledovskaya, Olga Nazarova, Mariya Pinigina, Olga Bryzgina) | 3:15.17 seconds | Oct. 1, 1988
Men's 110m hurdles: Liu Xiang | 12.91 seconds | Aug. 27, 2004
Women’s 100m hurdles: Sally Pearson | 12.35 seconds | Aug. 7, 2012
Men’s 400m hurdles: Kevin Young | 46.78 seconds | Aug. 6, 1992
Women’s 400m hurdles: Melanie Walker | 52.64 seconds | Aug. 20, 2008
Men’s steeplechase: Conseslus Kipruto | 8:03.28 seconds | Aug. 17, 2016
Women’s steeplechase: Gulnara Samitova-Galkina | 8:58.81 seconds | Aug. 17, 2008
Men's high jump: Charles Austin | 7 feet, 10 inches | July 28, 1996
Women’s high jump: Yelena Slesarenko | 6 feet, 9 ⅛ inches | Aug. 28, 2004
Men’s long jump: Bob Beamon | 29 feet, 2 ½ inches | Oct. 18, 1968
Women’s long jump: Jackie Joyner-Kersee | 24 feet, 5 ½ inches | Sept. 29, 1988
Men’s triple jump: Kenny Harrison | 59 feet, 4 ¼ inches | July 27, 1996
Women’s triple jump: Francoise Mbango Etnone | 50 feet, 5 ⅞ inches | Aug. 17, 2008
Men’s decathlon: Ashton Eaton | 8893 | Aug. 18, 2016
Women’s heptathlon: Jackie Joyner-Kersee | 7291 | Sept. 24, 1988
Men’s shot put: Ryan Crouser | 73 feet 10 ½ inches | Aug. 18, 2016
Women’s shot put: Ilona Slupianek | 73 feet 6.28 inches | July 24, 1980