We all know about the star athletes who have found lasting success in different championships or who feature year-round in various tournaments and entertain us by winning medals and trophies. We though, might not be really known about the Olympic exploits of these champs. Here is a list of stars with Olympic medal(s) to their names which we generally might not be aware of!
Kobe Bryant has a globally recognized name due to his great achievements in the world of basketball. Before retiring from professional basketball, Bryant, 37, accomplished many firsts in his playing career. He has featured for the NBA All-Star team 18 times. Bryant was called up for national duty in the 2008 Olympics, where he scored 20 points and contributed six assists, as Team USA beat Spain 118–107 in the finals to take up gold. He returned for the 2012 Olympics where the team won gold once more. He then announced his retirement from the National team after this.
The prolific tennis player has won 22 Grand Slam singles titles in her career as well as several Olympic gold medals. Born in 1981, Williams began training in tennis aged 3. She has been ranked first by WTA in the women’s singles competition on six occasions and is rated as the greatest tennis player of all time in the women’s category. She has won 4 Olympic gold medals including 3 in the women’s doubles events at the 2000, 2008 and 2012 games, and the singles title in the 2012 London Olympics.
Ryan Lochte is a competitive swimmer who has won 11 Olympic medals, among them five golds in the sport. In the last Olympics in London, the 1.88 meter athlete won the 400-meter individual medley and 4-by-200-meter freestyle team event to take 2 golds, and also won silver in the 200-meter individual medley (losing out to compatriot Michael Phelps) and 4X100M relay. He was awarded with a reality show about his life on MTV.
Unfortunately we shall not be seeing this Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova at the Rio Olympics as she is currently serving a 2 year ban for doping. However this 29 year old Russian player’s exploits cannot be overlooked. Sharapova made her Olympic debut at the 2012 Olympics in London, where she lost to Serena Williams. This was her worst defeat to an American opponent.
Described as the greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan also accomplished the rare feat of collecting 2 gold medal honors in 2 separate Olympics- Los Angeles 1984, and Barcelona 1992. He not only won gold with, but did it in style, averaging 17 points a game in LA, and 15 points in Barcelona. The USA basketball team dubbed “The Dream Team” remained undefeated in both tournaments.
Bruce Jenner was a household name long before we came to know him on social media as Caitlyn Jenner. On July 30, 1976, he won American hearts by claiming the Olympics gold medal, when he crossed the finish line ahead of Soviet decathlete Mykola Avilov, dethroning the 1972 champion in the Montreal Olympics. This was a significant achievement as it was accomplished at the height of the cold war.
This 32 year old American professional basketball player needs no introduction. However we will not be seeing him at the Olympics after his decided to recuperate after a long season. Currently a free agent, James’ success on-court is summed up as follows: winner of 3 NBA championships in 2012, 2013, and 2016, Most Valuable Player in on four occasions and three Olympic medals. He lead the US team to a victory against Spain in London, and in the process managed to record the first triple-double witnessed in U.S. Olympic history chalking up with 11 points, 12 assists and 14 rebounds.
Tony Parker is a professional basketball player for the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA. Tony, 35, is a French national who plays the number 9 position as point guard and has won four NBA Championships. He appeared for the French National basketball team in 2012 Summer Olympics but missed out on a medal. He has announced his intention to retire after the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Tennis fans will be extremely disappointed not to see him at the Olympics, due to a knee injury. The Swiss tennis great is considered by many as the greatest tennis player of all time due to his exploits on the tennis court. He is a seven time Wimbledon winner, five time US Open champion. He has also won the Australian open title four times and the French Open once. However, he has not been as prolific at the Olympics, having collected only one gold medal at the 2008 games doubles men’s event, and a silver medal in the following Olympics at the men’s singles.
Amanda Ray Beard also known as Amanda Brown, is an American swimmer and a seven-time Olympic medalist. She made history when she won three medals at the Atlanta Olympics—one gold and two silver- becoming the second-youngest Olympian to win a medal in American swimming history. She has been named the American Swimmer of the Year twice, and has won twenty one medals in global competition including the Olympics and the World Championships. She has appeared as a model for FHM, the 2006 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, and Playboy magazine in 2007.
Then known as Cassius Clay, Ali at only 18 years of age, emerged victorious in all his four fights. The climax of the boxing competition was his victory over three-time European champion Zbigniew Pietrzykowski in the light heavyweight category, where he took gold. Ali would later lose the gold medal, but received a replacement at the Atlanta Games in 1996.
Shaun White earned a place among the winter Olympics greats by winning the snowboarding Olympic gold medal twice. In Turin in 2006, Shaun recorded a score of 46.8 out of 50 to win the half pipe event ahead of fellow American Danny Kass. While at the Vancouver games his record score of 48.4 was enough to see him ward off all competition and take gold with his signature Tomahawk move.
This 31 year old American is the most decorated Olympian of all time, having won a combined 22 medals in three different Olympic Games. His first gold came at the 2004 Olympics in Greece, winning the 400-meter individual medley with a world record time of 4:08.26. He went on to win 8 gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games, and 4 gold, and two silver medals in the 2012 Olympics in London making him the most successful athlete at the Olympics in 3 times in a row. Phelps’ record-breaking performances have seen him win the World Swimmer of the Year Award seven times, and American Swimmer of the Year Award on nine occasions.
If you’re a lover of tennis then you’re no stranger to this talented athlete who is considered to be one of women’s tennis all-time greats. Venus has won 4 Olympic gold medals, three in women’s doubles event and one in singles category. Together with her sister Serena, they have won more gold medals at the Olympics than any other male or female tennis player. The 2000 Sydney Olympics saw Williams become only the second player (after Helen Wills Moody in 1924) to win both singles and doubles gold medals at the same Olympic Games.
This 26 year old world-renowned gymnast and Olympian is the 2008 Olympic all-around individual champion. She is also a four-time all-around U.S. national champion, and is credited with nine World Championships medals, seven of which she has won as individually. Liukin is tied with her compatriot Shannon Miller as having won the most medals in a single non-boycotted Olympic Games as an American gymnast. She retired from the sport in 2012 after failing to make the US Olympic team after a series of falls.
This American born 36 year old has the honor of being the most decorated figure skater in U.S. history. Apart from winning gold twice at the Olympics (in 1998 and 2002) she is also a five-time World champion and nine-time U.S. champion at the sport. Kwan took a break from skating to focus on her education after the 2006 Olympics, enrolling at the University of Denver for her undergraduate studies. She is also a lawyer and diplomat.
“Mia” Hamm-Garciaparra, the former American soccer player was part of the U.S. women’s national soccer team for 17 years. She is also a FIFA Women’s World Cup winner(1991 and 1999) and two time Olympic gold medalist in 1996 and 2004. Having joined the United States national team at 15 Mia Hamm scored her first goal at an international tournament when she was only 18. Hamm retired to start a family after the 2004 Olympics.
This Texas born figure skater also doubles up as an actress, and sports commentator. Tara Lipinski first gained international acclaim when, at just 13, she qualified for the 1996 world championships in the United States team. She went on the following year to finish first at the championships, and became the youngest world champion in figure skating history. She is the 1998 Figure Skating Olympic champion (Nagano, Japan) and the 1997 World champion competition in Lausanne.
Anna Kournikova is one of the best known tennis stars in the world due to her great looks and celebrity status. Even though she never won a medal at Olympics, but a special mention here because it was 1996 Olympics which gave her the real fame. Kournikova of Russia moved to the United States at 10 to pursue tennis and turned professional in 1995. However, Kournikova never managed to win a WTA title in her career, reaching a career high ranking of No.8 in 2000. She represented her country at the 1996 Olympics but was eliminated in the first round.
Apolo Anton Ohno, 35, the star speed skater who holds the record for the highest number of medals won by a U.S. national in the winter Olympics. In 2002 he scored gold and silver at the Winter Olympics in the 1500m and 1000m respectively. He won the silver in the 1500m event four years later at the Winter Olympics held in Salt Lake City. In the 2010 Games, Ohno won silver in the 1500-meter event, and followed it up with the overall silver in the 1000-meters. In doing so he also broke the record for most medals won by a U.S. Winter Olympian. Apolo has used his Olympic fame to enter Dancing With The Stars in 2007 and won the season!