The Summer Olympics have the majority of all major sports events. It is an opportunity for top level athletes to show what they're made of and represent their country. The best three in every event get a medal for their country and earn massive recognition.
To even earn a medal at all at the Olympics is an incredible achievement, but to be a record holder of any kind at one of the highest stages is something else. These athletes are truly the best of the best.
Many names probably come to mind like Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt when it comes to breaking Summer Olympics records, but we have so much more. Without further ado, here are the top 25 most impressive Summer Olympics records!
25. 800 m women's event (Nadezhda Olizarenko)
Nadezhda Olizarenko holds the Summer Olympics record for the fastest 800 m event. She broke this record at the 1980 Summer Olympics when she earned gold and ran it at 1:53.43.
Olizarenko also came in third at the 1500 m event at the same Olympics. She had the world record for the 800 m event which was broken years later, but not at a Summer Olympics event so she is still the record holder.
24. Shot put (Ryan Crouser)
Ryan Crouser is an American athlete who holds the Summer Olympic record for longest shot put both indoors and outdoors. He broke the indoor record January 2021 and broke the Summer Olympic record in 2016.
Crouser set a new record at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro when he won gold and threw the shot put 22.52 m (73 ft 10 in). He is also third in the world for all time longest throws.
23. 3,000 m steeplechase (Conseslus Kipruto)
Conseslus Kipruto is a Kenyan middle distance runner who only competes in the 3000 m steeplechase. He won gold in the 2016 Summer Olympics, 2017, and the 2019 World Championship.
Kipruto broke the Summer Olympics records in 2016 when he ran the 3000 m steeplechase in 8:03.28. He has broken his own record in 2019 when he ran it at 8:01.35 but it wasn't for the Summer Olympics.
22. Oldest gold medalist (Oscar Swahn)
Oscar Swahn was a Swedish shooter who won six medals including three gold. Not only is he the oldest person to win gold, he's also the oldest person to win any medal and the oldest to ever compete in a Summer Olympics.
At the 1912 Summer Olympics, Swahn became the oldest gold medalist when his team won the single shot running deer team, he was 64 years and 258 days of age at the time.
21. 200 m womens (Florence Griffith Joyner)
Florence Griffith-Joyner, also known as Flo-Jo, was an American track and field athlete. Not only does she have two olympic records, she is also the fastest woman of all time!
Flo-Jo broke the Summer Olympic record in 1988 for the 200 m when she ran it in 21:34. This is not only a Summer Olympic record, it still stands as a world record that no one has come close to beating.
20. Most gold won in a single women's tournament (Kristin Otto)
Kristin Otto is a German swimming champion who held the world records for the 100 meter and 200 meter freestyle events. She was also the first woman to swim the 100 meter backstroke in under a minute.
Otto is most famous for winning six gold medals in a single Summer Olympics games. She did this at the 1988 Seoul Olympic games. In the same Olympics, she also set records in the 50 m freestyle and 100 m butterfly events.
19. Beating a three-time defending olympic champion (Rulon Gardner)
Rulon Gardner is a retired Greco-Roman olympic gold medalist wrestler. This is particularly impressive because of what he accomplished in 2000. At the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympic games Gardner pulled off the impossible.
Gardner got to the final of the competition where he had to face Russia's Aleksandr Karelin. Karelin was unbeaten for 13 years in international competitions and had not given up a single point in 6 years. Gardner was able to defeat the world champion when he was freshly out of college.
18. Biggest game score (USA vs Nigeria)
Basketball is a popular Summer Olympic sport. No team does it better than the United States when it comes to basketball and in this particular game the US really showed how good they truly are.
At the 2012 Summer Olympics, the United States faced off against Nigeria in a game that would break records. The US beat Nigeria 156-72 for a total of 229 points. That record hasn't even been close to being beaten since.
17. Bowling gold medal performance (Arianne Cerdena)
Arianne Cerdena has a record that as of right now at least, will never be beaten. The 1988 Summer Olympics are the only ones to ever feature Bowling as one of their sports. So at least for now, this record can't be broken.
Cerdena placed first and is the only woman ever to have a gold medal in bowling at the Summer Olympics. Bowling was discontinued because it is not easy for people in third-world countries to develop skill in bowling.
16. 200 m men (Usain Bolt)
Usain Bolt is a Jamaican sprinter who is now retired. He is considered by many as the greatest sprinter of all time and he holds three world records. He is also an eight-time Olympic gold medallist.
Bolt is the only sprinter to win the Olympic 100 m and 200 m titles in three consecutive Olympics (2008, 2012, and 2016). No one has come close to beating his time except himself, so we expect this record to stand for a while.
15. Most medals in a single Olympics women (Maria Gorokhovskaya)
Maria Gorokhovskaya was a Soviet gymnast who has the record for the most medals won by any woman in a single Olympics. She did this at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland.
Gorokhovskaya won seven medals which is still the record to this day. That was the first Olympics that the Soviet Union even participated in and they completely dominated. She retired in 1954 and then became a judge until she passed in 1991.
14. Most medals in one Olympics (USA)
The United States has the most medals as it is when it comes to the Summer Olympics, but this record is outstanding. At the 1904 Summer Olympics the United States hosted the event in St.Louis, Missouri.
530 American competitiors participayed in 16 different sports events. The US won 239 medals in 1904 (78 gold, 82 silver, 79 bronze). The Soviet Union is second coming in at 195 medals at the 1980 Summer Olympics.
13. 100 m men (Usain Bolt)
Usain Bolt really needs no introduction. The eight-time Olympic gold medallist has many countless records but this one stands above his 200 m race one because this one was a harder time to beat.
Bolt ran the 100 m in 9.63 which is a Summer Olympic record and was a world record until 2009 when it was broken, by himself to make it 9.58 in Berlin. Bolt is one of the best and most successful sprinters of all time.
12. Most gold medals (USA)
As we have previously stated, no one does it like the US when it comes to the Summer Olympics. With that being said, it is still crazy to see the numbers that the US has put up compared to other countries.
Great Britain is in third place with 263 gold medals, the Soviet Union is second with 395 gold medals, and the US is first coming in at 1022 gold medals. The US has almost three times the gold medals that the second place has.
11. 5,000 and 10,000 m race (Kenenisa Bekele)
Kenenisa Bekele is an Ethiopian long-distance runner who holds both the 5,000 m and 10,000 m world records. He beat the 5,000 m record in 2004 and the 10,000 m in 2005 but he holds both records for the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Bekele is the most successful runner in the history of the IAAF World Cross Country Championships. His 5,000 m record is 12:49.60 and the 10,000 m record is 27:01.17. One of the best runners ever!
10. Springboard event (Greg Louganis)
Greg Louganis is an American Olympic diver who won gold medals at the 1984 and 1988 Summer Olympics. He is the only man in Olympic history to dominate the diving events in consecutive Olympic games.
Louganis has been called the greatest American diver of all time numerous times and he was the 1988 "Athlete of the Year". He was the first diver to ever score a perfect 10 from all seven judges and his score of 754.41 has yet been beaten.
9. Most table tennis gold medals (China)
No country is as dominant in a single event as China in table tennis. China has been dominating the Summer Olympic sport since it was first introduced in 1988. China has failed to get at least one medal only one time ever.
China has a total of 53 medals in 32 events, including 28 out of a possible 32 gold medals. It is safe to assume that China will never be overtaken in table tennis at the Summer Olympics.
8. Gold after 24 years (Birgit Fischer)
Birgit Fischer is a former German athlete who won eight gold medals in Olympic games. She is both the youngest and oldest ever Olympic canoeing champion (ages 18 and 42).
Fischer has won many gold medals representing both Germany and East Germany. She holds the record for the longest time between her first and last gold medals. She won her first one in 1980 and her last one in 2004 before she retired, thats 24 years apart!
7. Softball team score (USA)
At the 2004 Summer Olympics the United States had one of the most dominant runs ever seen at the Olympics. Softball was one of three sports that was for women only along with synchronized swimming and rhythmic gymnastics.
The United States won the gold by beating Australia 5-1 in the final. That one point was the only one that the US conceded in all 9 games that they played at the Olympics. The US side outscored its opponents 51-1, something never seen before.
6. Most Olympic appearances (Ian Millar)
Ian Millar is a Canadian athlete for show jumping. He is a two-time winner of the Show Jumping World Cup and he is often referred to as "Captain Canada" for his accomplishments and longetivity in show jumping.
Millar holds the record for most Olympic appearances by any athlete with 10. Despite being to 10 Olympics he has never won a gold medal, only a silver one in 2008. To even go to the Olympics at all is extremely impressive, making it to 10 is just showing off at that point!
5. Youngest gold medal winner (Marjorie Gestring)
Marjorie Gestring was an American competitive springboard diver. She has earned gold in 3 national finals and the 1936 Summer Olympics for her 3 m springboard dives representing the United States.
Gestring has the Olympic record for being the youngest person to ever win a gold medal at 13 years and 268 days. She was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame and the Stanford Athletic Hall of Fame.
4. A perfect 10 (Nadia Comaneci)
Nadia Comaneci is a retired Romanian gymnast who won five Olympic gold medals. She was the first person to ever receive a perfect score of 10.0 and she did it at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.
Comaneci received 6 more perfect scores in her journey to win three gold medals. Her score couldn't even be displayed on the board because it didn't have the number 10 as no one had ever received that score before.
3. 7 world records in 8 days (Mark Spitz)
Mark Spitz is a retired American competitive swimmer who has won nine Olympic gold medals. Spitz set records that only Michael Phelps was able to beat 36 years later. That should show how good he really was.
Spitz was the most successful athlete at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. He won 7 golds medals in the span of eight days, all of them breaking records. Between 1968 and 1972, Spitz set 35 world records, insane!
2. Most gold medals (Michael Phelps)
Michael Phelps is a retired American swimmer and the most successful and decorated Olympian of all time. Phelps also broke Mark Spitz record of 7 first place finishes at any Olympic event when he got 8 in 2008.
Phelps has the record for the most Olympic gold medals with 23. He also holds the record for the most gold medals in individual events and most overall medals in individual events as well.
1. Men's long jump (Bob Beamon)
Bob Beamon is a retired American track and field athlete who will always be remembered for the record he broke in the 1968 Summer Olympics. His record is the longest standing Olympic record.
Beamon shocked the world in 1968 when he broke the existing long jump record by 55 cm (21 in). He jumped 8.90 m (29 ft 2 in). When he found out he broke the record by so much, he suffered a brief cataplexy attack making him drop to his knees.