The Olympics are a world event that captures the attention of people all over the globe. Hundreds of thousands enjoy every moment of the games either by going to the stadia where the games are being held or by watching the proceedings on television. With the 2016 Rio Olympics fast approaching, one of the questions going through the minds of fans across the world is who are the greatest olympians ever? Having been in existence since ancient Grecian times, hundreds of athletes have competed in the olympics. Here are the 15 greatest olympians of all time.

Gert Fredriksson

Hailing from Sweden, Gert is a canoeing gold medalist. He won a total of 6 gold medals in this event. As a result, Gert is the most successful olympic athlete that Sweden has ever produced. He appeared in four Olympics during which he gathered the coveted medals.

Larisa Latynina

She was a queen of gymnastics from Russia. Having competed for 19 medals, she won 18 of them. The one time that she did not win a medal was when she tied for the fourth position in the 1956 Olympics held in Melbourne, Australia. Out of her total tally of medals, 6 of them were gold medals.

Usain Bolt

Currently the fastest man alive, Usain is a Jamaican legend. He has won multiple gold medals in the 100 meter dash. Not only has he set a world speed record of 9.69 seconds, he has broken it too. According to statistics, Usain is the fastest man in the history of the olympics. He definitely deserves a place in the list of the greatest olympians ever.

Paavo Nurmi

His achievements read like a fantasy. Paavo set a total of 22 official olympic world records during his running days in the 1920s. He was the first olympian to ever win 5 gold medals in the same olympics. He once ran with a stopwatch held in his hand so as to track his performance in the race. In the sport of long distance running, Paavo is a legend.

Aladar Gerevich

Hailing from Hungary, Aladar was a gold medalist fencer. Alongside his team, Aladar won gold at every olympic event from 1932 to 1960. If the second World War had not interrupted their winning streak, Aladar and his team would have won 8 successive gold medals over the years that the Olympics were canceled due to war. He is definitely one of the greatest Olympians of all time.

Sir Steve Redgrave

This is a champion rower who won 5 gold medals consecutively in the Olympics between 1984 and the year 2000. He comes from Britain and his achievements are unmatched by any other endurance athlete in the sport of rowing. Thanks to his exceptional performance, Redgrave was knighted by the Queen of England and is now recognized with the title of Sir.

Brigit Fischer

Many Olympic athletes are good at only one event. Very few can participate in more than one and actually excel. One of this chosen few is Brigit Fischer. Brigit performed in six different sports and amassed 12 medals. 8 of these were gold medals. Over the years, Brigit emerged as the youngest and the oldest champion in the sport of olympic canoeing. Brigit won a medal for the first time in the sport when she was only 18 years old and appeared again on the winner's podium when she was 42 years old. She is definitely one of the greatest olympians.

Carl Lewis

Participating in the long jump and the relay race events, Carl Lewis won four gold medals and was the undisputed long jump champion over the course of ten years. He helped the American team win gold medals and set world records in the 4 x 100 meter relays. In 1988 he was involved in a drug test controversy. However, his reputation as one of the best olympians remains rock solid.

Michael Phelps

No other swimmer has had a prolific career such as Michael Phelps. He is the undisputed king of the pool. Michael has won 22 medals in the Olympic swimming event. Of these, 18 are gold medals. Hailing from the United States, Michael is definitely one of the top olympians to ever grace the games.

Ray Ewry

Few olympians can say that they never ever experienced defeat during their Olympic career. Having participated in the standing high and triple jumps, Ray won gold medals in these events over the course of four olympic games. In the olympic games of 1900 and 1904, Ray won three gold medals in one day. This is an olympic achievement that no one had ever done before and it made Ray a legend.

Alexei Nemov

Participating in the sport of gymnastics, Alexei was a champion Russian athlete. He participated in the Olympics in the years of 1996 and 2000. He won a total of six medals in each one of these Olympic games which brought his total medal haul to 12 in two meetings. This launched his name into olympic history.

Florence Griffith-Joyner

Florence is remembered for her winning exploits in the games of 1984 and 1988. She was recognized by fans all over the world for how fast and athletic she was during these Olympic meetings. In her first appearance, she won a silver medal in the 200 meter event. She added 4 more medals in her second appearance and etched her achievements in the memories of fans.

Nadia Comaneci

When she was 14 years old, Nadia achieved her first gold medal in gymnastics. She went ahead to become the first olympic athlete to earn 10 points during the games in her event. She achieved the feat in the 1976 olympic games that were held in Montreal. By doing this, she cemented her place among the greatest olympians.

Michael Johnson

He was a prolific athlete from the United States. He participated in the 1996 Atlanta games and the 2000 Sydney games. He won a total of 4 gold medals in these meetings. In the Atlanta games, Michael ran the 200 meter race faster than anyone had ever done before. He completed the race in 19.32 seconds and his record in the event stood for 12 years. He explained that he felt like he was flying as he ran that race. By setting this record in a remarkable way, he is recognized as one of the greatest olympians ever.

Jesse Owens

No other Olympic athlete has ever had such significance in the games. Jesse won four gold medals in different events in the 1936 Berlin Olympics under the rule of Hitler. The destructive dictator had remarked that the Aryan race was far more superior to any other in the world. Jesse was African American and this meant that he was expected to lose. However, he shocked Hitler and the rest of the world by amassing so many medals that all his naysayers were left in amazement. He practically showed that a man was not to be underestimated due to the color of his skin. Jesse Owens is very likely the greatest olympian of all time.

The Important Take Away

The Olympics are a chance for the whole world to be united in one sporting event. Athletes achieve their dreams at these events. The list above indicates those who not only achieved their dreams but left a legacy that we all look up to today.