Famous 21st Century Athletes

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Find out more about the greatest 21st Century Athletes, including Ross Rebagliati, Usain Bolt, Oscar Pistorius, Debi Thomas and Jerry Collins.
Vote for Your Favourite 21st Century Athletes
 1 
Usain Bolt
(Olympic athlete)
Usain Bolt
12
Birthdate: August 21, 1986
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Sherwood Content, Jamaica

One of the greatest athletes ever, Usain Bolt is popular by the nickname ‘Lightning Bolt’. He holds the world record for 100 metres, 200 metres and 4 × 100 metres relay and is the only sprinter to win Olympic 100 m and 200 m titles at three consecutive Olympics (2008, 2012 and 2016).

 2 
Mo Farah
(Athlete)
Mo Farah
21
Birthdate: March 23, 1983
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Mogadishu
Long-distance runner Mo Farah shot to fame with his 10,000-meter and 5,000-meter wins at the 2012 London Olympics. The first athlete to score a quadruple double, Farah has won 10 major international titles. He became the European Athlete of the Year thrice and has also received the CBE.
 3 
Eliud Kipchoge
(Long-distance runner)
Eliud Kipchoge
12
Birthdate: November 17, 1984
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Kapsisiywa, Nandi County, Kenya
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 4 
Carl Lewis
(Track and field athlete)
Carl Lewis
10
Birthdate: July 1, 1961
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Birmingham, Alabama, United States

A dominant sprinter and long jumper, Carl Lewis has won ten Olympic medals, nine of them gold. From 1981 to 1991, he topped the world rankings in the 100 m, 200 m and long jump events, slowly starting to lose his dominance thereafter, eventually retiring in 1997. Currently a businessperson, he has also appeared in films and television productions.

 5 
Allyson Felix
(Track and field athlete)
Allyson Felix
7
Birthdate: November 18, 1985
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Los Angeles

The most-decorated track and field athlete, Allyson Felix, once bullied for having skinny legs, now has a record 9 Olympic medals, including 6 gold medals. Named to Time 100 in 2020, she is also part of the board of Right to Play, which caters to children in underdeveloped countries.

 6 
Michael Johnson
(American olympic athlete)
Michael Johnson
8
Birthdate: September 13, 1967
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Dallas

Four-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson remains the only man to win both the 200m and the 400m events in the same Olympics. He was the Track & Field News 1996 Athlete of the Year. In 2008, he returned his 2000 Olympic relay medal, as a teammate had taken performance-enhancing drugs.

 7 
Jessica Ennis-Hill
(Track & Field Athlete)
Jessica Ennis-Hill
9
Birthdate: January 28, 1986
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England

Jessica Ennis-Hill is a British retired track and field athlete. She specialized in multi-eventing disciplines and 100 meters hurdles. In 2012, she won an Olympic gold in the heptathlon. She was introduced to sports as a young girl and immediately took an interest in athletics. She has won several other titles as well in addition to her Olympic gold. 

 8 
Tyson Gay
(Sprinter, Athletics competitor)
Tyson Gay
9
Birthdate: August 9, 1982
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Lexington

Born into an athletic family, Tyson Gay naturally developed an interest in sports. One of the fastest sprinters in both the 100m and the 200m categories, he was part of the 2016 Olympic relay team that was stripped of its medal for breaking game rules.

 9 
Caster Semenya
(South African Middle-Distance Runner and Two-Time Olympic Gold Medalist)
Caster Semenya
9
Birthdate: January 7, 1991
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Pietersburg, South Africa

Two-time Olympic gold medalist middle-distance runner Caster Semenya in an intersex woman, with high testosterone levels. The two-time Olympic gold medalist was asked to take medication to decrease her testosterone levels, to participate in the 2021 Olympics women’s events, and filed a case in the European Court of Human Rights.

 10 
Cathy Freeman
(Australian Former Sprinter Who Specialised in the 400 metres Event)
Cathy Freeman
9
Birthdate: February 16, 1973
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Mackay, Queensland, Australia

Cathy Freeman is a former sprinter known for her achievements in the 400 meters events. Her personal best of 48.63, set at the 1996 Olympics, makes her the eighth-fastest woman of all time. She gave Australia an Olympic gold at the 2000 Olympics. Also a humanitarian, Freeman is credited with founding the Cathy Freeman Foundation.

 11 
Justin Gatlin
(Athlete)
Justin Gatlin
10
Birthdate: February 10, 1982
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Five-time Olympic medalist and renowned sprinter Justin Gatlin is a specialist in the 100m and the 200m categories. In 2005, he became the first to win both the 100m and the 200m world titles. He was a childhood fan of Mike Tyson and had initially been a hurdler.

 12 
Yohan Blake
(Athlete)
Yohan Blake
9
Birthdate: December 26, 1989
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: St. James Parish, Jamaica

Yohan Blake is a Jamaican sprinter who became the youngest 100 meters world champion when he won a gold medal at the World Athletics Championships in 2011. He also won gold medals at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games as part of the Jamaican relay team. Yohan Blake is the second-fastest man in both 100 meters and 200 meters events.

 13 
Linford Christie
(Retired Sprinter)
Linford Christie
7
Birthdate: April 2, 1960
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Saint Andrew, Jamaica

Linford Christie is a Jamaican-born British former sprinter who won gold medals in the 100 meters at the Olympic Games, the World Championships, the European Championships, and the Commonwealth Games. He is one of the most highly decorated British athletes of all time. He was awarded the BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1993. 

 14 
Denise Lewis
(Athletics competitor)
Denise Lewis
5
Birthdate: August 27, 1972
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: West Bromwich

Denise Lewis is a British sports commentator and former athlete. She won the heptathlon gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and became the first European to win Olympic gold in the heptathlon. A two-time Commonwealth Games champion, Lewis also won silver medals in the 1997 and 1999 World Championships. She was also the 1998 European Champion. 

 15 
Kelly Holmes
(Middle-Distance Runner Who Won Two Golds in the 2004 Olympics in Athens)
Kelly Holmes
7
Birthdate: April 19, 1970
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Pembury, Kent, England

Kelly Holmes is a retired English middle-distance athlete who specialized in the 800 meters and 1,500 meters events. She won gold medals for both distances at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. Beginning her career with the British Army, she turned to professional athletics in 1993. She took part in her final major championship in 2004. 

 16 
Oscar Pistorius
8
Birthdate: November 22, 1986
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sandton, South Africa

From being an infant whose both legs were amputated below knee, Oscar Pistorius went on to become a top athlete with wins in Paralympic Games and other sporting events. The South African sprinter also became the first amputee runner to compete at the Olympics Games. However, later, he was convicted for the murder of his girlfriend and is currently imprisoned.

 17 
Haile Gebrselassie
(Former Ethiopian Long-Distance Track Athlete and Two-Time Olympic Gold Medalist)
Haile Gebrselassie
4
Birthdate: April 18, 1973
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Assela, Ethiopia
 18 
Daley Thompson
(Decathlete)
Daley Thompson
7
Birthdate: July 30, 1958
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Notting Hill, London, United Kingdom

Daley Thompson is a British former athlete who specialized in decathlon. He has won gol medals in decathlon at the 1980 and 1984 Olympics. He also broke the world record for decathlon on four occasions. He also won three Commonwealth titles and is regarded as the greatest decathlete ever. 

 19 
Allison Stokke
(American Pole Vaulter and Fitness Model)
Allison Stokke
9
Birthdate: March 22, 1989
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Newport Beach, California, United States

Allison Stokke became an internet sensation after a few of her images went viral when she was 17. The talented high-school pole vaulter earned the 2011 All-American honors. She later gained more fame as a fitness model and a sex symbol than as a sportsperson. She also failed her Olympic trials.

 20 
Donovan Bailey
(Former Sprinter)
Donovan Bailey
4
Birthdate: December 16, 1967
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Manchester, Jamaica

Donovan Bailey is a retired Jamaican-Canadian sprinter. He once held the world record for the 100 meters and is considered the greatest Canadian sprinter of all time. Noted for his top speed, he became the first Canadian to legally break the 10-second barrier in the 100 meters. In 2004,  he was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame.

 21 
Wim Hof
(Dutch Extreme Athlete Who Practices Cold Tolerance )
Wim Hof
9
Birthdate: April 20, 1959
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Sittard, Limburg, Netherlands
 22 
Antonio Rüdiger
(Footballer)
Antonio Rüdiger
9
Birthdate: March 3, 1993
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
 23 
Lolo Jones
(Hurdler)
Lolo Jones
4
Birthdate: August 5, 1982
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Des Moines, Iowa, United States

While she believes missing out on the gold medal at the 100m hurdles at the 2008 Beijing Olympics was her most painful experience, American hurdler and bobsledder Lolo Jones is still quite a star. She has penned a memoir and has also appeared on shows such as Celebrity Big Brother.

 24 
Valerie Adams
(Retired New Zealand Shot Putter and Two-Time Olympic Gold Medallist)
Valerie Adams
5
Birthdate: October 6, 1984
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Rotorua, New Zealand
Star shot-putter of New Zealand Valerie Adams boasts of two Olympic golds and four World Championship titles. IAAF’s 2014 World Athlete of the Year, she was one of 18 children born to an English father and a Tongan mother and first gained attention after breaking a 20-year school shot-put record.
 25 
Sergey Bubka
(Former Soviet-Ukrainian Pole Vaulter Who Broke the World Record for Men's Pole Vault 35 Times)
Sergey Bubka
7
Birthdate: December 4, 1963
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Luhansk, Ukraine

Russian star pole-vaulter Sergey Bubka had started training at age 9. He soared to fame after winning the world championship in Finland at age 15 and later became the first to jump 6.1m. He won the 1988 Seoul Olympic gold and shattered the global men’s pole vault record 35 times.

 26 
Alex Scott
(Footballer)
Alex Scott
13
Birthdate: October 14, 1984
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: London, England

Alex Scott is an English TV presenter and former professional football player. Apart from playing for popular clubs like Arsenal and Birmingham City, Scott also represented the women's national football team. She also played for Great Britain at the London Olympics. In 2019, she was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame.

 27 
Kerri Walsh Jennings
(Beach Volleyball player)
Kerri Walsh Jennings
6
Birthdate: August 15, 1978
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Santa Clara, California, United States

American beach-volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings was born to a baseball player father and a volleyball player mother, and was naturally drawn toward sports. She later attended Stanford on a sports scholarship and won three gold medals at the Olympics. She is married to fellow beach-volleyball player Casey Jennings

 28 
Milkha Singh
(Indian track and field athlete)
Milkha Singh
6
Birthdate: November 20, 1929
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Govindpura, Muzaffargarh District, India
Died: June 18, 2021

Indian track and field legend Milkha Singh, also known as "The Flying Sikh,” was orphaned during the Partition of India. The former army man won four Asian Games gold medals. He also competed in the 1956, 1960, and 1964 Summer Olympics, finishing fourth in the 400-meter event in 1960.

 29 
Aimee Mullins
(First Amputee to Compete Against Able-bodied Athletes in NCAA Events)
Aimee Mullins
5
Birthdate: July 20, 1975
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Allentown, Pennsylvania, United States

Born without fibular bones, Aimee Mullins had to have her legs amputated below the knee as an infant. Undeterred, she grew up to be a Paralympic record-breaker, competing as a track and field athlete with prosthetic legs. She has walked the ramp for Alexander McQueen and has starred in films, too.

 30 
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce
(Sprinter, Athletics competitor)
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce
4
Birthdate: December 27, 1986
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kingston

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is a Jamaican sprinter who achieved international recognition in 2008 when she won the gold medal at the Olympic Games in Beijing. She then went on to win gold medals at the 2012 and 2020 Olympic Games. Counted among the greatest sprinters of all time, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce also has many World Championship gold medals under her belt.

 31 
Bob Beamon
(Best Known for His World Record in the Long Jump at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968)
Bob Beamon
4
Birthdate: August 29, 1946
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: South Jamaica, New York, United States

Bob Beamon is a former American track and field athlete who won the gold medal for the long jump at the 1968 Olympics. He created a world record in the process of winning the gold medal; the record was broken by Mike Powell almost 23 years later. Beamon was inducted into United States Olympic Hall of Fame.

 32 
Ben Johnson
(Sprinter)
Ben Johnson
4
Birthdate: December 30, 1961
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Falmouth, Jamaica
 33 
Ashton Eaton
(Retired American Decathlete and Two-Time Olympic Gold Medalist)
Ashton Eaton
6
Birthdate: January 21, 1988
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Portland, Oregon, United States

Two-time Olympic decathlon champion Ashton Eaton began his international career in 2008, winning his first international medal, a silver, at the 2011 World Championships. In the following year, he won two gold medals, one in Heptathlon at the World Indoor Championships and the other in Decathlon in London Olympic Games, defending his Olympic title four years later in Rio de Janeiro.

 34 
Katarina Johnson-Thompson
(Athletics competitor)
Katarina Johnson-Thompson
13
Birthdate: January 9, 1993
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Liverpool

Katarina Johnson-Thompson is an English heptathlete whose performance at the 2018 Commonwealth Games earned her a gold medal. She also won the gold at the 2019 World Championships. Katarina Johnson-Thompson holds the British record for the women's pentathlon with 5,000 points. A highly talented athlete, Katarina Johnson-Thompson also holds the British records for high jump in both outdoors and indoors.

 35 
Wayde van Niekerk
(South African Track and Field Sprinter Who Competes in the 200 and 400 Metres)
Wayde van Niekerk
4
Birthdate: July 15, 1992
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Cape Town, South Africa

Wayde van Niekerk is a South African athlete who competes as a sprinter in the 200 and 400 metres. He is the current Olympic and world record holder in the 400 metres. Wayde van Niekerk holds the world record in the 300 metres as well. He won the gold medal in the 400 metres event at the 2016 Olympic Games.

 36 
Armand Duplantis
(Pole vaulter)
Armand Duplantis
4
Birthdate: November 10, 1999
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Lafayette, Louisiana, United States

Armand Duplantis is a Swedish pole vaulter. He currently holds the world indoor record with a height of 6.18 meters. When he was 15 years old, Duplantis won a gold medal at the 2015 World Youth Championships. He then went on to win a gold medal at the 2018 European Championships and a silver medal at the 2019 World Championships.

 37 
Jim Kelly
(Martial Artist and Actor Known for His Action Films ‘Enter the Dragon’ and ‘Black Belt Jones’)
Jim Kelly
4
Birthdate: May 5, 1946
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris, Kentucky, United States
Died: June 29, 2013

Athlete and martial artist Jim Kelly won hearts with his Afro hairstyle and his roles in action film such as Enter the Dragon and Black Belt Jones. Apart from films, he also excelled in karate, winning contests such as the International Middle Weight Karate Championship. He has also played professional tennis.

 38 
Roger Bannister
8
Birthdate: March 23, 1929
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Harrow, England
Died: March 3, 2018

British middle-distance athlete and neurologist Sir Roger Gilbert Bannister was the first athlete to run a mile in less than four minutes. Before achieving such feat, Bannister set a British record in the 1500 metres during the 1952 Summer Olympics. In the medical field, Bannister became a neurologist and Master of Pembroke College, Oxford.

 39 
Magnús Scheving
(Creator of the Children's Television Series ‘LazyTown’)
Magnús Scheving
4
Birthdate: November 10, 1964
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Borgarnes, Iceland

Magnús Scheving is best known as the creator of the BAFTA-winning children’s series Lazy Town, which has its roots in Scheving’s first book and centers around children’s fitness. The Icelandic aerobic gymnastic champion is also a motivational speaker and has previously been a fitness trainer at a school.

 40 
Maurice Greene
(Track & Field Sprinter)
Maurice Greene
5
Birthdate: July 23, 1974
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kansas City, Kansas, United States

Maurice Greene is a former track and field athlete and a former world record holder in 100-metre dash. Greene won four Olympic medals, including two gold medals, representing the United States of America in two Olympic Games. Maurice Greene also has five gold medals at the World Athletics Championships under his belt.

 41 
Helen Skelton
(Co-Presenter of the BBC Children's Program 'Blue Peter' and 'Countryfile')
Helen Skelton
10
Birthdate: July 19, 1983
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kirkby Thore, Cumbria, England

Best known for her work on BBC productions like Blue Pete, English television presenter Helen Skelton is also a trained lap dance teacher and an adventurer, who kayaked the entire length of River Amazon to raise fund for Sports Relief 2020. Author of Amy Wild: Amazon Summer, she is also the first person to reach South Pole using a bicycle.

 42 
Dafne Schippers
4
Birthdate: June 15, 1992
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Utrecht, Netherlands
 43 
Paula Radcliffe
(Marathon runner, Long-distance runner, Athletics competitor)
Paula Radcliffe
8
Birthdate: December 17, 1973
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Northwich

Paula Radcliffe is a retired distance runner, credited with winning the London Marathon and the New York Marathon three times each. Born into an athletic family, she emerged as a running talent by the time she was in her teens, winning the world junior cross-country title at the age of nineteen, eventually. She held the Women's World Marathon Record from 2003 to 2019.

 44 
Matt Miazga
(Association football player)
Matt Miazga
5
Birthdate: July 19, 1995
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Clifton

American soccer player and Chelsea defender Matt Miazga has previously also represented the New York Red Bulls. Born to Polish immigrant parents in the U.S., Miazga is a staunch Christian and often expresses his religious views on social media. He was part of the American Olympic campaign in 2016.

 45 
Teemu Selänne
(Former Finnish Ice Hockey Player Who Played as a Winger)
Teemu Selänne
4
Birthdate: July 3, 1970
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Helsinki

Teemu Selänne is a Finnish retired ice hockey player who played as a winger. Dubbed the Finnish Flash, Teemu is the highest scoring player from Finland in the history of the National Hockey League (NHL). In 2017, he became only the second Finn after Jari Kurri to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

 46 
Dominique Dawes
(American Retired Artistic Gymnast and Olympic Gold Medalist)
Dominique Dawes
5
Birthdate: November 20, 1976
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Silver Spring, Maryland, United States

Known as Awesome Dawesome, Dominique Dawes is a retired star gymnast from the U.S. who was part of the gold-winning team at the Atlanta Olympics. She also became the first African-American to earn an individual Olympic medal, with her bronze. She is also part of the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.

 47 
Sebastian Coe
(Middle Distance Runner, Politician)
Sebastian Coe
8
Birthdate: September 29, 1956
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Hammersmith

Sebastian Coe is a politician and former athlete who represented Great Britain in two Olympic events. He won four Olympic medals including two gold medals as a middle-distance runner. In 2012, he was inducted into the IAAF Hall of Fame. The same year, Coe was honored at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. 

 48 
Edwin Moses
(Athletics competitor)
Edwin Moses
4
Birthdate: August 31, 1955
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Dayton
 49 
Hicham El Guerrouj
(One of the Greatest Middle-Distance Runners in History)
Hicham El Guerrouj
4
Birthdate: September 14, 1974
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Berkane, Morocco

Moroccan former middle-distance runner Hicham El Guerrouj is a four-time 1500m world champion. The UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador became the second athlete to win both the 1500m and 5000m titles in the same Olympics. He won the IAAF World Athlete of the Year thrice and holds many indoor and outdoor records.

 50 
Efren Reyes
(Pool player)
Efren Reyes
8
Birthdate: August 26, 1954
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Angeles