By winning seven medals – four gold, three bronze – at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Australian Emma McKeon set the record for the female athlete with the most medals at a single Games, tying with Soviet gymnast Maria Gorokhovskaya in 1952. McKeon is also Australia’s most successful Olympian, with a total career haul of 11 medals.
In Tokyo, she was the swimmer who won the most medals, ahead of American Caeleb Dressel, who won five medals. Not only that: McKeon was also the athlete with the most medals, among all sports. Instagram’s Swimming States page has published the list of the athletes with the most medals in each Olympics over the last 50 years.
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In those 13 Olympic Games, seven of them had a swimmer as the top medalist, including the last five. In fact, Michael Phelps was the sole athlete from 2004 to 2016 to be the top medalist.
Actually, never before 1972 a swimmer had topped the medals list at any Olympics, so Mark Spitz was the first one.
In 1964, Soviet Larisa Latynina was the athlete with the most medals with six. Until this year, she was the last female athlete to do so. So, McKeon’s feat is something that hasn’t been achieved by a female athlete in more than 50 years.
Winning seven or more medals at a single Games is something that was achieved before by only three swimmers in history: Mark Spitz in 1972, Matt Biondi in 1988, and Michael Phelps in 2004 and 2008. So McKeon’s feat is unprecedented among female swimmers.