American competitive swimmer Natalie Coughlin must have a huge room to stow all her medals and certificates. While studying at the University of California, Berkeley, she set a record in the 100 m backstrokes by being the first woman to complete it in less than a minute. Six years after that, she won six Olympic gold medals during the 2008 Summer Olympics, the first American female to do so in a single Olympiad.
Coughlin has won a grand total of 60 medals, all from international events. Thanks to her glitzy sports career, she’s become a brand ambassador. Her name is practically synonymous with victory. She’s also a business investor in a food corporation.
While many athletes would be content to make it to the Olympics or win a medal at the highest level of competition, Michael Phelps aspired for so much more. He was regarded as the most successful Olympian in history, and definitely, the most decorated of all time, winning a total of 28 medals, with 23 of them being gold.
He first retired from the sport in 2012, after the London Olympics. But sensing he still had so much more left in him, plus being constantly challenged by a rival, re-ignited his passion to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, where he won his last five gold medals and a silver. He is widely regarded as the best swimmer in history.
As a track and field sprinter, Allyson Felix seems to be making a statement each time she competes. She specializes in the 100 m, 200 m, and 400m categories, but she’s also an advocate for an all-natural body enhancement approach. Having competed as an Olympian since the 2008 Olympics, she’s come to actually walk the talk by still competing up to this day. She plans to compete in the 2020 Olympics as well.
No woman has ever won six gold medals in her sport, a feat she proudly holds at the age of 30. She often speaks about the necessity to keep the sport clean and promotes regular, random illegal substance testing.
Kerri Walsh Jennings
During her college years at Stanford University, Kerri Walsh Jennings was considered to be among the best all-around players ever in collegiate volleyball. Her skills improved as she transitioned into beach volleyball, where she became a three-time Olympic gold medalist.
Along with her partner, Misty-May Treanor, the duo is considered to be the “Greatest Beach Volleyball Team” in history. Kerri Walsh continues to compete, and she also makes appearances on film and television. She holds a record for women’s career earnings — $2,561,635.
American retired competitive swimmer Mark Spitz would not only become an outstanding Olympian and gold medalist, but he would forge on to set world records in seven of his events. He was a nine-time Olympic champion. Only Michael Phelps would break his record of winning seven gold medals during the 1972 Summer Olympics.
Perhaps Mark Spitz could have achieved more before he decided to retire after the Munich Olympics. He was only 22 years old at the time. He tried his hand at show business, worked as a commentator, and focused on his real estate business, and other entrepreneurial projects. He continues to travel around the world to give lectures based on his Olympic experiences.