The Most Successful Olympic Athletes Ever

Every four years, the world is treated to an amazing showcase of people with almost superhuman abilities in various sports during the Summer Olympics. Both veteran and new athletes compete with their counterparts from other countries, in the hopes of winning gold medals and breaking world records along the way.
As the 2012 Olympics in London draws near, its worth reviewing the past glories earned by some of the most successful athletes throughout Olympic history:
1. Ray Ewry
America continues to be an indomitable team when it comes to the Olympics. One of the earliest athletes to give honour to the Stars and Stripes was Ray Ewry, who made a sweep of medals at the long jump competitions in the 1900, 1904, and 1908 Olympics. It is interesting to note that a bout with polio had left him relying on a wheelchair for mobility during his childhood days but his eight gold medal haul proved that the human spirit can beat all odds.
2. Sawao Kato
Gymnastics has always drawn crowds at the Olympics; it is unarguably one of the Games most popular events. And of all the gymnasts in the world, the most successful one ever in the history of the quadrennial games is Japans Sawao Kato, who bagged eight gold medals in the 1968, 1972, and 1976 Olympic Games, in the floor exercise, parallel bars, and team events.
3. Carl Lewis
Named as the Sportsman of the Century by the Olympics organizers, Carl Lewis remains one of the finest superstars of all time in track and field, due to the nine gold medals that he earned from four consecutive Olympics, from 1984 to 1996, where he excelled not only in the sprint and relay competitions but in the long jump category as well.
4. Larisa Latynina
The ultimate superwoman of the gymnastics world is Russian Larisa Latynina, who has won an amazing 18 medals a feat that no other Olympian has ever achieved! Her nine gold medals, part of her illustrious Olympic career that spanned three summers from 1956 to 1964, makes her the most successful female Olympian to this day.
5. Mark Spitz
The breaking of world records is one of the most awaited moments in any event during the Summer Olympics. American swimmer Mark Spitz certainly made the wait worth the crowds while in Munich, in 1972, when he broke seven world records and won seven gold medals. In another year, he also won two more golds, from the Mexico games. Throughout his career, he was able to break the world record 33 times.
6. Paavo Nurmi
In the field of athletics, there was one Finnish athlete who reigned supreme from 1920 to 1928: Paavo Nurmi. During his career, he scored nine gold medals and became known as the best middle- and long-distance runner during his time.
7. Michael Phelps
In the Beijing Olympics, Michael Phelps was young enough to be joining the Olympic Games at least one more time in the future years. And yet, 2008, he swam as if it were his last day on Earth, winning 8 gold medals, ending up with a whopping total of 14 golds in his young career. The London 2012 Olympics may be his last, but then, what else does he need to prove?
If you are lucky enough to attend the London 2012 Olympic Games to witness more greats in the making you can travel by
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