Youngest and Oldest Olympic Gold Medal Winners

youngest and oldest olympic medal winners

15-year old Katie Ledecky became the youngest American gold medal winner after dominating the 800-meter freestyle at the London Olympic games

Just two months removed from completing her freshman year of high school, American Katie Ledecky stood tall on the Olympic podium, a 412 gram gold medal wrapped around her neck. The scene was London, just four years ago, as Ledecky captured the hearts of an adoring public who watched with amazement at the accomplishment of the then 15-year old.

Not only did the Washington D.C. native dominate the competition, clocking the second fastest 800-meter freestyle time in history, she also became the youngest American to win an Olympic gold since the modern Olympic games began in 1896. Since winning her Olympic gold success has followed her. Ledecky now holds the world record in the 400-, 800-, and 1,500-meter freestyle (long course). She also holds the fastest-ever times in the 500-, 1000-, and 1,650-yard freestyle events.

Ledecky’s polar opposite would be Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn, a sport where age doesn’t impact performance quite as much as swimming.

oldest olympic medal winner

Safe to say in today’s era, Oscar Swahn would be more popular than Gronk.

The 72-year-old Swahn won 6 Olympic medals over three Olympic games in a shooting sport called “Running Deer”. Swahn was at his peak performance at around the time Honus Wagner was dominating baseball, earning two Gold medals in 1908 at the age of 60. But it was his Silver medal in the 1920 Olympics that gave him the distinction of being the oldest medal winner in Olympics history.

Pretty good chance in today’s era Swahn would be a cult hero, with a robust twitter following and GoPro camera’s following his every move.

If you are as amazed by Olympic history as I am, reveling in the accomplishments and dreaming of what will come next, you’ll enjoy this interactive infographic put together by our friends at Athletic Edge Physiotherapy in Toronto. It’s a graphical study of the youngest and oldest gold medal winner organized by sport.

Enjoy the infographic and add your thoughts to the comments!

About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the sports media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for &

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  1. I met Jeannette Campbell in Argentina about 2001 – she swam at the 1932 Olympic and took the 200m silver medal at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. I even got to see her silver medal and competitor’s pass.