Top Ten Summer Olympic Games
Since 1896, the Summer Olympics have been hosted once every four years by amazing cities like Athens, Greece and Paris, France. Over the past 120 years, we have witnessed some of the most amazing sports moments once every four years except during World War I and World War II when the 1916, 1940, and 1944 Olympics were cancelled, and they were never a disappointment.
Jesse Owens defied Adolf Hitler during the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin, Michael Phelps disproved the theory that swimming athletes are no longer competitive past the age of 30, and Usain Bolt continues to easily run faster than any man in the history of the world. There have been so many impressive moments over the years that it is hard to rank the Olympics but we did figure out a way to do it using a method we can only describe as detailed.
(Note: Due to the ongoing 2016 games, we did not include them in rankings.)
10. 1988 – Seoul, South Korea
- Olympiad: XXIV
- Nations: 159
- Events (Sports): 237 (23)
- Opening – Closing Date: September 17th – October 2nd
- Medal Count Leader (Country Total): Soviet Union – 55 Gold, 31 Silver, 46 Bronze (132)
- Medal Count Leader (Athlete): Matt Biondi – 5 Gold, 1 Silver, 1 Bronze (7)
- Florence Griffith Joyner became known as one of America’s greatest Track & Field stars, ever, by winning three Gold medals and one Silver medal during 1988 Olympics in Seoul.
- Last Olympics where no NBA players starred on Team USA.
- Greg Louganis smashes his head on the springboard diving board in his preliminary dives only to come back and win two more Gold medals.
- Lawrence Lemieux derailed his Canadian team’s chances at winning a medal in their Finn class sailing event by heading off course to rescue a capsized South Korean boat in the ultimate show of sportsmanship.
- Steffi Graf wins an Olympic Gold medal in Tennis, the sport returned after a 64-year absence.
9. 1932 – Los Angeles, United States
- Olympiad: X
- Nations: 37
- Events (Sports): 117 (14)
- Opening – Closing Date: July 30th – August 14th
- Medal Count Leader (Country Total): United States – 41 Gold, 32 Silver, 30 Bronze (103)
- Medal Count Leader (Athlete):
- The infamous Olympic Village began in 1932 where the first one was built in Baldwin Hills for the men, and the Chapman Park Hotel for the women.
- Paavo Nurmi, one of the most decorated Olympians ever, was not allowed to participate in the 1932 games after being suspended by the IAAF.
- The Los Angeles games marked the first time a podium was used for each event’s medal celebration.
- Field Hockey only produced three nations, India, Japan, and the United States, securing each team an Olympic medal just by showing up.
8. 1956 – Melbourne, Australia
- Olympiad: XVI
- Nations: 72
- Events (Sports): 151 (17)
- Opening – Closing Date: November 22nd – December 8th
- Medal Count Leader (Country Total): Soviet Union – 37 Gold, 29 Silver, 32 Bronze (98)
- Medal Count Leader (Athlete)
- Viktor Chukarin: 4 Gold, 2 Silver (6)
- Agnes Keleti: 4 Gold, 2 Silver (6)
- Larisa Latynina: 4 Gold, 1 Silver, 1 Bronze (6)
- Margit Korondi: 1 Gold, 1 Silver, 4 Bronze (6)
- The 1956 Hungarian Revolution aimed towards the USSR caused for a bloody water polo match between Hungary and the Soviet Union. It became known as the Blood in the Water match.
- India continued to dominate Field Hockey and they won a 6th consecutive Gold medal in the event.
- For the first time ever, both East and West Germany combined to form one team, the Unified Team of Germany. It lasted until the 1968 Summer Olympics.
- The Olympic tradition of athletes being allowed to enter the Opening Ceremonies along side fellow athletes from various countries began. It was done to show world unity.
7. 1912 – Stockholm, Sweden
- Olympiad: V
- Nations: 28
- Events (Sports): 102 (14)
- Opening – Closing Date: July 6th – July 22nd
- Medal Count Leader (Country Total): United States – 25 Gold, 19 Silver, 19 Bronze (63)
- Medal Count Leader (Athlete): Vilhelm Carlberg – 3 Gold, 2 Silver (5)
- Tug of War was added as an Olympic sport. (A sport that honestly should bring back.)
- It was the first time women were allowed to compete in swimming and Fanny Durack and Mina Wylie became the first two ladies to medal in the 100m freestyle.
- Art was a sport in which medals were awarded in five categories: Architecture, Literature, Music, Painting, and Sculpture.
6. 1992 – Barcelona, Spain
- Olympiad: XXV
- Nations: 169
- Events (Sports): 257 (25)
- Opening – Closing Date: July 25th – August 9th
- Medal Count Leader (Country Total): Unified Team – 45 Gold, 38 Silver, 29 Bronze (112)
- Medal Count Leader (Athlete): Vitaly Scherbo – 6 Gold (6)
- The United States men’s basketball team changed the way the world looked at the NBA when they put together a Dream Team of future Hall of Famers in the first year that professional athletes were allowed to play basketball at the Olympics.
- At 13 years old, Fu Mingxia, a Chinese diver, became the youngest Olympic Gold medalist ever.
- Roller Hockey was demonstrated during the ’92 games but never became an Olympic sport. Could you imagine the amazing quality of talent that the women’s side of Roller Hockey would provide the fans?
- Spain, the host country, had never won a Gold medal in any running event during the Olympics until this year when Fermin Cacho won one in the 1,500m.
- Derek Redmond inspired us all when he tore his hamstring in the 400m semi-finals but didn’t quit. As he hobbled his way to the finish, his father busted through security and helped carry him the rest of the way as the tears came pouring down, from Derek, his father, and just about everyone watching.
5. 1984 – Los Angeles, United States
- Olympiad: XXIII
- Nations: 140
- Events (Sports): 221 (21)
- Opening – Closing Date: July 28th – August 12th
- Medal Count Leader (Country Total): United States – 83 Gold, 61 Silver, 30 Bronze (174)
- Medal Count Leader (Athlete): Li Ning – 3 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Bronze (6)
- The Soviet Union returned the favor of boycotting the Olympics following the 1980 Moscow games by staying home in 1984 along with 13 other countries. (Notable countries: East Germany, Cuba, Hungary, Poland, Vietnam, Czechoslovakia)
- Joan Benoit won the first ever women’s marathon
- Xu Haifeng won China’s first Olympic medal, ever. Since then, China has claimed another 472 medals during the Summer games.
- Carl Lewis made his first Olympic appearance and changed the face of Track & Field following his exciting and dominate four Gold medal run.
- Prior to the United States recent four year streak of winning the Gold medal in the women’s Gymnastics Individual All-Around, they only had won it once, in 1984, when Mary Lou Retton became an American Olympic icon.
4. 1936 – Berlin, Germany
- Olympiad: XI
- Nations: 49
- Events (Sports): 129 (19)
- Opening – Closing Date: August 1st – August 16th
- Medal Count Leader (Country Total): Germany – 33 Gold, 26 Silver, 30 Bronze (89)
- Medal Count Leader (Athlete): Konrad Frey – 3 Gold, 1 Silver, 2 Bronze (6)
- Historic Storylines
- Jesse Owens traveled to Germany to accomplish a few goals but none more important than securing four Gold medals for the United States and to be able to hear the national anthem played in the stadium Adolf Hitler expected only German’s to be victors in.
- The 1st torch relay, from ancient Olympia to the host country, happened during the 1936 Berlin games. It has become one of the most coveted Olympic traditions but not many people realize the idea was invented by the Nazi’s.
- Hitler watched as the eight-man rowing team from the United States upset both the Germans and Italians to win another Gold medal for America.
- Betty Robinson Schwartz won a Gold medal in the 100m sprint during the 1928 Olympics becoming the first woman to ever win a Gold medal in Track & Field. She ended up being involved in a terrible plane crash in 1931 where she was believed to be dead. However, after her body was recovered from the wreckage and brought to an undertaker, someone realized she was in a coma. She spent the next few years recovering from the accident and returned to compete in the 1936 Summer games where she helped Team USA upset the heavily favored German’s in the 4x100m relay event.
3. 1960 – Rome, Italy
- Olympiad: XVII
- Nations: 83
- Events (Sports): 150 (17)
- Opening – Closing Date: August 25th – September 11th
- Medal Count Leader (Country Total): Soviet Union – 43 Gold, 29 Silver, 31 Bronze (103)
- Medal Count Leader (Athlete): Boris Shakhlin – 4 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Bronze (7)
- Paul Elvstrom, Denmark, won his fourth consecutive Gold medal in the same event, Finn class sailing, becoming one of only a few athletes ever to four-peat in the same event.
- Muhammad Ali won his one and only Olympic Gold medal under his birth name, Cassius Clay.
- US men’s basketball team featured a roster of some of the NBA’s greatest players ever, in their collegiate gear of course. Players like Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Walt Bellamy, and Jerry Lucas formed an amazing lineup that won a 5th consecutive Gold medal.
- Wilma Rudolph earned the title of “the fastest woman in the world,” after winning 3 Olympic Gold medals in the 100m, 200m, and the 4x100m Relay.
2. 2012 – London, England
- Olympiad: XXX
- Nations: 204
- Events (Sports): 302 (26)
- Opening – Closing Date: July 27th – August 12th
- Medal Count Leader (Country Total): United States – 46 Gold, 28 Silver, 29 Bronze (103)
- Medal Count Leader (Athlete): Michael Phelps – 4 Gold, 2 Silver (6)
- Michael Phelps returned to the Aquatics center and won another 6 medals in what was supposed to be his final Olympic appearance. He ended 2012 with 22 Total medals, 18 of them Gold, both Olympic records.
- 32 World Records
- China, Great Britain, and the United States each set 5 World Records a piece, in various different events.
- Jessica Ennis-Hill, Greg Rutherford, and Mo Farah captured the heart’s of an entire nation on the final Saturday of the games when each athlete won a Gold medal in their respective sports in front of thousands of screaming hometown fans.
- Team USA’s “Fab Five” won the women’s Gymnastics Team Gold Medal, finally living up to the expectations of everyone behind them.
- Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings concluded their amazing Olympic run winning, shockingly, another Gold medal in Beach Volleyball, their 3rd in a row.
1. 2008 – Beijing, China
- Olympiad: XXIX
- Nations: 204
- Events (Sports): 302 (28)
- Opening – Closing Date: August 8th – August 24th
- Medal Count Leader (Country Total): United States – 36 Gold, 38 Silver, 36 Bronze (110)
- Medal Count Leader (Athlete): Michael Phelps – 8 Gold (8)
- 125 Olympic Records
- 37 World Records
- Michael Phelps set the record for most Gold medals in a single Olympics with 8, defeating the previous record held by former US swimmer, Mark Spitz. Two of his races have become legendary because of the final 50m in each. In the 4x100m relay, Jason Lezak, who never qualified for any Olympic individual event, needed to overcome a significant lead by France’s powerhouse, Alain Bernard. In one of the most amazing comebacks, Lezak spent the final 25m swimming his heart out, literally, to keep Phelps Gold medal record hopes alive. The next big obstacle came during the 100m butterfly when Phelps defeated Milorad Cavic, of Serbia, by one-hundreth of a second.