For twelve years (1952 to 1964) Takashi Ono was a terror to other gymnastics teams at the Olympics. He racked up an impressive thirteen medals that time, including four golds. He’s currently tied with the Soviet Union’s Boris Shakhlin for second all-time medals in male gymnastics.
He’s also the most decorated Japanese Olympic competitor in history, just barely beating fellow gymnast Sawao Kato, who has twelve. His best year was 1960, where he won six medals out of the eight competitions he was a part of.
1952 was a special year for Emil Zatopek, and indeed race fans everywhere. This Czechoslovakian runner did something that has yet to see a repeat: he won the 5,000-meter race, the 10,000-meter race, and the marathon all in the same year. Even more, mind-blowing, it was the first marathon that Zatopek had ever run.
The 10,000-meter race is only about six and a half miles, a marathon is an eye-popping 26.2. How he accomplished this staggering feat is unknown, other than his brutally tough training sessions, but he won the marathon by two and a half minutes. His trademark expression of pain is still known around the world.
Also known as Flo-Jo, Florence Griffith-Joyner achieved greatness during the 1988 Seoul Olympics when she ran the 200-meter competition in 21.34 seconds. No doubt that's fast, but it was so fast that it immediately became the world record. Even better, in 2021 it was STILL the world record! She won a total of four medals (three gold and a solitary silver) in 1988, and also got a silver for the 200 meters in Los Angeles in 1984.
A few world championship medals in 1987 in Rome have cemented her as one of the greatest female sprinters in history. She is related by marriage to Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Sadly, she passed away in 1998 due to a severe medical condition.
There aren't a lot of Cuban Olympic champions, but among them, Teofilo Stevenson stands tall. He won three-time consecutive gold medals in the Olympic boxing ring from 1972 to 1980, a feat that is nigh-impossible to achieve in any competition. Yet Stevenson did it all with just what he had in the Fidel Castro regime.
He was offered a million dollars to fight the great Muhammad Ali, but he turned the offer down, stating: “What is a million dollars against eight million Cubans who love me?” It's a question for the ages. After his competition days ended, Stevenson worked as a trainer and sports functionary.
Under incredible pressure, Jesse Owens pulled off the unthinkable. The 1936 games were held in Berlin, Germany, just before WWII began. There was one thing interfering with Germany's fame and that was Jesse Owens. Owens, from the United States, was a foreshadowing of things to come when he whupped the Aryan boys in the 100 meters, 200 meters, long jump, and the 400-meter relay, taking gold in all four.
Even better, the reason he won the long jump was because of a bit of friendly advice from fellow jumper Luz Long, who competed for...Germany. In 2016, the film "Race" was launched, telling the story of Jesse, a human being hero.