The Most Dominating Countries in Summer Olympic Sports

Tug 560x281Over the past 120 years, the Olympics have grown from 9 sports (43 events) to 28 sports (306 events). There have even been sports that have come and gone too. A few of those sports that once had an Olympic presence were baseball, polo, softball, cricket, lacrosse, and even, tug of war. So all joking aside, tug of war was once an Olympic event that lasted from 1900 until 1920.  It sounds funny but if you could imagine how exciting that would be today, especially with social media and live streaming, it would be the most popular sport.

Dream Team 560x266For the sports that remain, there have been certain ones that specific countries have flat out dominated since 1896. There are the obvious choices like Team USA men’s basketball or men’s swimming thanks to Michael Phelps. But then there are several others you might not have even realized were dominated by one country. When we say dominate, we should let you in on a little secret, dominate means at least doubling the number of Golds as the second place country, all-time.

Some of those countries deserve to be highlighted now that we are all celebrating the end of the 28th Summer Olympic games. So here they are…

Men & Women Combined Sports

Archery – South Korea

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  • Olympics Active: 17 (1900-1908, 1920, 1972-2016)
  • No. of Gold Medals (Total): 23 (39)
  • Most Dominate Year: 2000
    • 5 Olympic Records Broken
    • 3 Gold Medals (5 Total)
  • Most Dominate Athlete: Yun Mi-jin (3 Gold Medals)
  • Olympic Records Owned: 13 of 15

Badminton – China

China Badminton 560x368

  • Olympics Active: 9 (1972, 1992 – 2016)
  • No. of Gold Medals (Total): 16 (39)
  • Most Dominate Year: 2012
    • 5 Gold Medals (8 Total)
  • Most Dominate Athlete: Gao Ling – 4 Medals (2 Gold, 1 Silver, 1 Bronze)

Judo – Japan

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  • Olympics Active: 14 (1964, 1972-Present)
  • No. of Gold Medals (Total): 37 (82)
  • Most Dominate Year: 2004
    • 8 Gold Medals (10 Total)
  • Most Dominate Athlete: Ryoko Tamura-Tani – 5 Medals (2 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Bronze)

Shooting – USA

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  • Olympics Active: 26 (1896-1900, 1908-1924, 1932-Present)
  • No. of Gold Medals (Total): 53 (107)
  • Most Dominate Year: 1920
    • 13 Gold Medals (23 Total)
  • Most Dominate Athlete: Carl Osburn – 11 Medals (5 Gold, 4 Silver, 2 Bronze)
  • Bonus Data: USA now owns 9 Olympic Records including the 10m Air Rifle record Virginia Thrasher broke just recently during the 2016 Rio Summer games.

Taekwondo – South Korea

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  • Olympics Active: 7 (1988-1992, 2000-Present)
  • No. of Gold Medals (Total): 11 (16)
  • Most Dominate Year: 2008
    • 4 Gold Medals (2 Men, 2 Women)
  • Most Dominate Athlete: Hwang Gyeong-Seon – 3 Medals (2 Gold, 1 Bronze)

Volleyball – Russia

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  • Olympics Active: 13 (1964-Present)
  • No. of Gold Medals (Total): 8 (19)
  • Most Dominate Year: 1968
    • 2 Gold Medals (Men & Women)
    • Men’s Team: 17 points, 8-1 Record, 26-8 Sets, 464-326 Points
    • Women’s Team: 14 points, 7-0 Record, 21-3 Sets, 333-194 Points
  • Most Dominate Athlete: Inna Ryskal – 4 Medals (2 Gold, 2 Silver)
  • Trivia
    • How does Russia reach 19 Olympic medals in both men’s and women’s volleyball when they haven’t been participating in enough Olympics to qualify? Because the FIVB considers Russia the inheritor of both the Soviet Union and the Unified Team’s medals giving Russia a total that includes all three countries.

Men’s Sports

Basketball – USA

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  • Olympics Active: 19 (1936-Present)
  • No. of Gold Medals (Total): 14 (17)
  • Most Dominate Year: 1992
    • Final Record: 8-0 (Gold Medal)
    • Avg. Margin of Victory: 43.8
    • Most Points, Points per Game, Assists, Blocks, Steals in US History
  • Most Dominate Athlete: Charles Barkley (18.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.38 apg, 2.63 spg)
  • Highlights
    • The key to the dominance of the one and only Dream Team was defense. They played better defense than any other Team USA Olympic squad ever. They own almost every USA men’s basketball record in Olympic play too.

Gymnastics – Soviet Union

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  • Olympics Active: 10 (1952-1988)
  • No. of Gold Medals (Total): 23 (55)
  • Most Dominate Event: Men’s Individual All-Around (15 Total Medals, 6 Gold)
  • Most Dominate Athlete: Nikolay Andrianov – 15 Medals (7 Gold, 5 Silver, 3 Bronze)
  • Highlights
    • Before the Soviet Union disbanded following the 1988 Summer Olympics, it dominated Gymnastics beginning in 1952.
    • Nine Soviet Union gymnasts have more than 5 Olympic medals including:
      • Nikolay Andrianov – 15
      • Borys Shakhlin – 13
      • Viktor Chukarin – 11
      • Aleksandr Dityatin – 10
      • Yury Titov, Mikhail Voronin – 9 each
      • Vladmiir Artyomov, Viktor Lisitsky, Valentin Muratov – 5 each

Swimming – USA

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  • Olympics Active: 28 (1896-Present)
  • No. of Gold Medals (Total): 134 (299)
  • Most Dominate Event: 100m Backstroke – 35 Medals (14 Gold, 14 Silver, 7 Bronze)
  • Most Dominate Athlete: Michael Phelps – 28 Medals (23 Gold, 3 Silver, 2 Bronze)
  • Highlights
    • Besides Michael Phelps owning the pool over the past five Olympics, Team USA has produced some of the greatest Olympic swimmers of all-time. They have several men that have six or more medals including:
      • Michael Phelps – 28 Total
      • Ryan Lochte – 12
      • Mark Spitz, Matt Biondi – 11 each
      • Gary Hall Jr. – 10
      • Nathan Adrian, Don Schollander, Charlie Daniels, Jason Lezak – 8 each
      • Tom Jager, Aaron Peirsol – 7 each
      • Matt Grevers, John Hencken, Brendan Hansen – 6 each

Track & Field – USA

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  • Olympics Active: 28 (1896-Present)
  • No. of Gold Medals (Total): 257 (600)
  • Most Dominate Event: 110m Hurdles – 57 Medals (20 Gold, 20 Silver, 17 Bronze)
  • Most Dominate Athlete
    • Carl Lewis – 10 Medals (9 Gold, 1 Silver)
    • Ray Ewry – 10 Medals (10 Gold)
  • Highlights
    • Team USA, the male athletes, has won the most medals in 28 different events in the history of the Olympics
    • 3 of the Top 5 most decorated Track & Field athletes are part of Team USA and have contributed  29 medals into the Team USA pot. (Lewis – 10 medals, Ewry – 10 medals, and Martin Sheridan – 9 medals)

Water Polo – Hungary

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  • Olympics Active:
  • No. of Gold Medals (Total): 9 (15)
  • Most Dominate Year:
  • Most Dominate Athlete:
  • Fun Fact
    • Dominance isn’t based on total medals. If so, Hungary wouldn’t qualify as they have a total of 15 but the United States has 13. However, no country has been able to come anywhere close to their nine Gold medals. (Italy has 4)

Women’s Sports

Basketball – USA

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  • Olympics Active: 10 (1976-Present)
  • No. of Gold Medals (Total): 7 (9)
  • Most Dominate Year: 2012
    • Team Defense: 56.25 points per game
    • Average Margin of Victory: 34.4 points
  • Most Dominate Athlete: Diana Taurasi – 12.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 15 3PM, 2.89 apg
  • Highlights
    • Although this wasn’t the highest scoring team USA has ever put together during the women’s side of the Olympics basketball event, it certainly was the best. The held opponent’s, in only 8 games, to under 57 points per game, an unreal total during the Olympics.

Gymnastics – Soviet Union

Soviet Women Gym e1471798401493 560x315

  • Olympics Active: 10 (1952-1988)
  • No. of Gold Medals (Total): 30 (71)
  • Most Dominate Event: Team Final
  • Most Dominate Athlete: Larisa Latynina – 18 Medals (9 Gold, 5 Silver, 4 Bronze)
  • What about Russia?
    • If the countries still included with the defunct Soviet Union, which lasted from 1955 to 1988, still counted towards the amazingly dominate totals they have had for many years now, the gap would be much larger. If you were to simply add Russia’s numbers to the Soviet Union’s for Women’s Gymnastics, the totals would jump to 35 Gold Medals (90 Total).
    • They won the Team Final Gold Medal for a record, 10 consecutive Olympic games.
    • Just like the men, there are nine female Soviet Union gymnasts with more than 5 Olympic medals including:
      • Larysa Latynina – 18
      • Polina Astakhova – 10
      • Lyudmila Turishcheva – 9
      • Sofiya Muratova – 8
      • Mariya Horokhovska – 7
      • Olga Korbut, Tamara Manina, Nelli Kim – 6
      • Svetlana Boginskaya – 5

Soccer – USA

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  • Olympics Active: 6 (1996-Present)
  • No. of Gold Medals (Total): 4 (5)
  • Most Dominate Year: 2012
  • Most Dominate Athlete: Christie Pearce-Rampone – 4 Medals (3 Gold)
  • Highlights
    • Sadly, the USA was eliminated from the 2016 games after a shocking loss to Sweden in the Quarterfinals of the knockout round. It marks the first time that they did not medal at the Olympics.
    • At the 2012 London games, 80,203 people attended the Gold medal match between USA and China, beating the previous record from the 1996 Gold medal match between USA and China face-off 16 years prior. (76,489 in 1996)

Swimming – USA

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  • Olympics Active: 24 (1912-Present)
  • No. of Gold Medals (Total): 87 (208)
  • Most Dominate Event: 100m Freestyle – 27 Medals (8 Gold, 9 Silver, 10 Bronze)
  • Most Dominate Athlete
    • Jenny Thompson – 12 Medals (8 Gold, 3 Silver, 1 Bronze)
    • Dara Torres – 12 Medals (4 Gold, 4 Silver, 4 Bronze)
    • Natalie Coughlin – 12 Medals (3 Gold, 4 Silver, 5 Bronze)
  • Highlights
    • There has never been a more dominate sport that Team USA women have owned at the Olympics then Swimming.
    • Several female swimmers own at least six or more medals, including:
      • Jenny Thompson, Natalie Coughlin, Dara Torres – 12 each
      • Shirley Babashoff – 9
      • Allison Schmitt – 8
      • Dana Vollmer, Amanda Beard – 7 each
      • Amy Van Dyken, Katie Ledecky, Missy Franklin, Angel Martino, Rebecca Soni – 6 each

Track & Field – USA

USA W Track e1471798435839 560x328

  • Olympics Active: 21 (1928-Present)
  • No. of Gold Medals (Total): 38 (76)
  • Most Dominate Event: 100m Sprint – 18 (9 Gold, 7 Silver, 2 Bronze)
  • Most Dominate Athlete
    • Allyson Felix – 7 Medals (4 Gold, 3 Silver)
  • Highlights
    • The women have the unfortunate luck of not being able to participate in the Olympics until 1928, and have a lot less events to compete in than the men. Because of this, their dominance isn’t as impressive if you compare the two. However, the women’s teams own the most all-time medal count in seven different events, which is an Olympic record of its’ own.