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).
Widely regarded as one of the greatest track and field athletes of all time, Jesse Owens' three world records in less than an hour in 1935 came to be known as the greatest 45 minutes ever in sports. He was credited with destroying Adolf Hitler's myth of Aryan supremacy when he won four gold medals at the 1936 Summer Olympics.
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.
Sprinter Wilma Rudolph made history by becoming the first American female athlete to win three track and field gold medals in a single Olympic game. As a child, she needed orthopedic shoes to help her walk. The sports icon lost her life to cancer but was immortalized through books and movies.
The first to score over 7,000 points in the heptathlon, Jackie Joyner-Kersee is considered by many as one of the greatest female athletes ever. While in school, she excelled in sports such as volleyball, basketball, and track, and also did well in studies. She later won three Olympic golds medals.
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.
10 Ben Johnson
11 Jim Kelly
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.
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.
13 Phil Davis
Mr. Wonderful Phil Davis is a popular American MMA fighter who represents Bellator MMA. He has previously been a four-time NCAA D-I All-American at Penn State and also boasts of a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He had also excelled in tennis and cross-country running in his younger days.
Track and field sprinter Christian Coleman has two World Championship golds in his kitty. Born into a sports-oriented family, with his sister being a track and field athlete, he was naturally drawn toward sports. He was banned for missing his drug tests and, as a result, missed the Tokyo Olympics 2021.
17 Bob Hayes
Bob Hayes was an American athlete and a football player. An Olympic gold medalist and a Super Bowl ring winner, Hayes was inducted into both Pro Football Hall of Fame as well as the United States Olympic Hall of Fame. He won gold medal in 100m and 4 x 100m relay in 1964 Tokto Oympics Hayes was once regarded as the world's fastest human.
19 John Carlos
John Carlos is a former football player and track and field athlete. Carlos won a bronze medal at the 1968 Summer Olympics. After his track career, he helped organize the 1984 Summer Olympics as part of his work with the United States Olympic Committee. In 2003, Carlos was made an inductee of the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame.
20 Louis Smith
With his 2008 Beijing Olympic bronze medal, Louis Smith became the second Black male gymnast to have won the medal. A pommel horse expert, he later won three more Olympic medals. He had ADHD as a child and later also won a choral scholarship but chose to focus on gymnastics instead.
23 Ugo Monye
Ugo Monye is an English former rugby union player turned sports pundit. He was a star athlete as a youth and played for Hampshire RFC U17s and U20s. He then joined Harlequins and played 241 times for them. He won both the second division and then the Premiership title with Harlequins. He has also played for England.
Known for his signature laughter, Kriss Akabusi is a former track and field athlete who has three Olympic bronze medals to his credit. He also became a European Champion in 1990, breaking a 22-year British 400m hurdles record. He had previously also been part of the British Army.
27 Marion Jones
Marion Jones became the first female athlete to win five track and field medals in a single Olympic game. She was, however, stripped of all her Olympic medals after she admitted to using steroids. She also spent 6 months in jail for being involved in a check-fraud case.
30 Issa Hayatou
31 Woody Strode
One of the first Black football players of the NFL, Woody Strode was also a talented decathlete. He had dabbled in professional wrestling, too, but later gained fame solely for his film roles, such as that of gladiator Draba in Spartacus, for which he earned a Golden Globe nomination.
32 Ato Boldon
35 Debi Thomas
Former figure skater Debi Thomas is also an Olympic bronze medalist. She began skating at 5 and participated in her first figure-skating contest at 9. A Stanford engineer and a qualified orthopedic surgeon, too, Thomas surprisingly ended up being broke and began living in a trailer in the Appalachian mountains.
36 Tommie Smith
Winner of the 200-meter sprint finals at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico, Tommie C. Smith finished the race in 19.83 seconds, thus becoming first to break the 20 seconds barrier. Today however he is better remembered for raising a black gloved fist over his head at the victory stand in protest against the injustice meted out to the blacks.
38 Sifan Hassan
39 Mijain Lopez
40 Johnny Oduya
Swedish former ice-hockey player was born to a Swedish mother and a Kenyan father, in Stockholm. As part of the Chicago Blackhawks of the NHL, he has won two Stanley Cups. He won a World Championship bronze and also played at the Olympics twice, winning a silver for Sweden.
41 Julius Yego
Dwain Chambers is a British track sprinter known to be one of the fastest European sprinters in the history of athletics. He is the European record holder for the 60 meters with 6.42 seconds. He has won gold medals at the world and European levels in different tournaments. He faced a doping ban from 2006 to 2012.
43 Marqise Lee
British track and field athlete, Lawrence Okoye played rugby for his school before taking up discuss throw. She won gold medal at the 2011 European Athletics U23 Championships and thereafter competed in the 2012 London Olympics in the following year. Later, he concentrated on football, participating in the NLF, before returning to discuss throwing, securing first place at 2021 European Athletics Team Championships.
46 Almaz Ayana
Ibtihaj Muhammad is an American sabre fencer. An important member of the US fencing team, Muhammad is the first Muslim woman to wear a hijab while competing in the Olympics for the United States. In 2016, she became the first Muslim American woman to win an Olympic medal while wearing a hijab; she won a bronze medal for her team.