Many athletes grow up dreaming of winning Olympic gold medals—the following are the 10 Olympic athletes with the most gold medals, having won many more than the one about which many athlete's dream.
- Michael Phelps is first on the list of 10 Olympic athletes with the most gold medals, having accumulated a total of 14. Phelps also has won two bronze medals. He has competed for the United States in swimming during three Olympic Games from 2000-2004. Phelps did not win any medals at his first Olympic Games, where he swam the 200 butterfly as a 15 year-old. In 2004, Phelps won six gold medals and two bronze, and in 2008 the swimmer won eight gold medals. He has not yet retired.
- Raymond Ewry is second on the list of Olympic athletes with the most gold medals with ten. An American track and field athlete, Ewry competed in the standing, triple and long jump events in three Olympic Games and one Intercalated Games from 1900-1908. Two of Ewry's 10 gold medals came at the Intercalated Games in Athens in 1906, which most historians consider to be Olympic competition. Even if those two medals were not counted, Ewry still would land on the list of 10 Olympic athletes with the most gold medals.
- Mark Spitz amassed nine gold medals during the course of his career, ranking third on the list of the 10 Olympic athletes with the most gold medals. Swimming for the United States in the 1968 and 1972 Olympic Games, Spitz won seven of the nine golds in 1972. He also won one silver and one bronze in his Olympic career. Spitz swam the freestyle and butterfly events and broke 33 world records before his retirement.
- Carl Lewis also won nine gold medals, tying him with Spitz on the list of the 10 Olympic athletes with the most gold medals. Lewis was an American track and field athlete competing in four Olympic Games between 1982-1996. Lewis competed in the sprint and long jump events. He was undefeated in 65 consecutive long jump competitions.
- Paavo Nurmi also is tied with nine among the athletes with the most gold medals. A mid and long-distance runner representing Finland, Nurmi won nine gold and three silver medals between 1920-1928. Though not retired, Nurmi was unable to compete in the 1932 games because he was considered a professional athlete by then. Nurmi held six world records during his career.
- Larissa Latynina won nine gold medals, making her the fourth athlete on the list to win nine golds. A gymnast representing the Soviet Union, Latynina also won five silver and four bronze medals competing in Olympic Games from 1956-1964. Latynina's specialty was the floor exercise.
Jenny Thompson was an American swimmer and seventh on the list of athletes with the most gold medals. Swimming in four Olympic Games, Thompson won eight gold medals, one silver, and one bronze. Each of her gold medals came in relay events.
- Bjorn Daehlie also won eight gold medals from 1992-1998. A cross country skier from Norway, Daehlie is considered the most winning cross-country athlete of all time. Daehlie also won four Olympic silver medals and nine world championship gold medals during his career. He was forced to retire ahead of his planned schedule after a roller skiing accident in 2000.
- Matt Biondi was an American swimmer who won eight gold medals from 1984-1992, tying him with Thompson and Daehlie on the list of athletes with the most gold medals. A butterfly and sprint swimmer, Biondi also won two silver and one bronze medals during his Olympic career. Biondi won five of his gold medals in 1988, leaving those Olympic Games with seven total medals and four world records.
- Birgit Fischer was a German rower, competing in six olympic games from 1980-2004. Fischer first represented the East German team, thus boycotting the 1984 Olympic Games, before representing the unified German team in later Olympic Games. During her Olympic career, Fischer earned eight gold medals and four silver medals. Because of her extended career, Fischer was both the youngest and oldest Olympic rowing champion in the 1980 and 2004 Olympic Games, respectively.