Emma McKeon Becomes First Woman Since 1964 To Lead Medal Count At An Olympics

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.

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.

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ACC
2 months ago

And the most by anyone not named Michael Phelps since 1988!

Pez
2 months ago

so glad shes getting the recognition she deserves!

Corn Pop
Reply to  Pez
2 months ago

Some commenters on SwSw said only recently she had never won anything much . She’s gone & done an Inge De Bruin.

Last edited 2 months ago by Corn Pop
Mr Piano
Reply to  Corn Pop
2 months ago

Salty and bitter Americans

swimswamsers
Reply to  Mr Piano
2 months ago

Americans don’t care enough about Australia to hate on them.

Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
Reply to  swimswamsers
2 months ago

Emma McKeon has yet to win an individual gold medal at the FINA World Aquatics Championships. Emma McKeon has yet to win an individual gold medal at the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships.

Robbos
Reply to  Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
2 months ago

Emma McKeon, Ariane Titmus & Kaylee McKeown, it must just hurt so much for you.

Sub13
Reply to  Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
2 months ago

Emma McKeon:
5 x gold at Olympics
4 x gold at world champs
4 x gold at Pan Pacs
8 x gold at Commonwealth Games
5 x World Record breaker

That’s all the stats I need

Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
Reply to  Sub13
2 months ago

Emma McKeon
FINA World Aquatics Championships
Individual gold medals – 0

Emma McKeon
Pan Pacific Swimming Championships
Individual gold medals – 0

Emna McKeon
World Records (LCM)
Individual world records – 0

In addition, no one gives a crap about the Commonwealth Games.

Last edited 2 months ago by Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
SHG
Reply to  Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
2 months ago

The 50+ countries that compete in the Commonwealth Games care very much. The same as the European championships and the Pan American Games do you say “who cares a crap” about them.

Sub13
Reply to  Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
2 months ago

If you’re talking about the general public, no one gives a crap about the Pan Pacs or World Champs either. I promise you more people in the world would know what the Commonwealth Games are than World Champs and Pan Pacs combined.

John Smithson
Reply to  Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
2 months ago

What you actually mean is no one in the US gives a crap about the Commonwealth games, well you should. In Toyko, Commonwealth countries of Australia, Canada, South Africa, and the UK, with a population, a bit of half of the US, won 15 gold, 10 Silver, and 11 bronze. Unless it is about the US, you’re not interested. Perhaps you should take more notice.

Admin
Reply to  John Smithson
2 months ago

I’m not taking sides here…but the combination of Australia, Canada, South Africa, and the UK had 4 times the qualifying opportunities of the US.

Population doesn’t always work as a direct representation of efficiency, given that each country can only send the same number of people. If the US could send 8 swimmers per event, you probably would have seen more medals. Not because of “the US is going to go 1-8,” but because it would’ve given more opportunities for the 3rd or 4th swimmer at Trials to hit their taper better at the Games and win a medal where the 1st or 2nd was unable to.

Troyy
Reply to  Braden Keith
2 months ago

Just a bit of a crude thought experiment but if there was a theoretical nation called “the Commonwealth” that selected its team based on FINA rankings before the Olympics taking the top 2 in each individual event the number of individual medals would only be 1 silver and 1 bronze less. That’s ignoring relays because that’s a bit too complicated.

John Smithson
Reply to  Braden Keith
2 months ago

Thanks, Braden, I agree in part, but a pool of 332 million people in a first-world country is going to provide you a much great opportunity to find exceptional talent and win regardless of the number of spots available, either 2 per event or 8. I checked the start list for all 35 event finals and on only 8 occasions was the commonwealth represented by more than 2 swimmers per final. 5 times with 4 entries and 3 times with 3 entries, so it was never going to place from 1 to 8. There was only 1 clean sweep out of the 8 events where there were 3 or more entrants from the commonwealth countries, and I expect without doing… Read more »

Sub13
Reply to  swimswamsers
2 months ago

If by “don’t care” you mean “obsessed with and talking about constantly” then yes, I agree

Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
Reply to  swimswamsers
2 months ago

What more impressive is five gold medals in five consecutive Summer Olympics. That’s legendary.

Troyy
Reply to  swimswamsers
2 months ago

Hilarious. You musn’t know Americans well then. Certainly you must be new to the Swimswam comment sections.

Texas Tap Water
Reply to  swimswamsers
2 months ago

Obviously they care enough to trash comment on SwimSwam

Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
Reply to  Corn Pop
2 months ago

Inge de Bruijn broke world records (LCM):

50 meter freestyle – 3
100 meter freestyle – 2
100 meter butterfly – 3

Robbos
Reply to  Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
2 months ago

Emma gold medal in 50/100 free in the Olympics, that must hurt.

Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
Reply to  Robbos
2 months ago

You know what hurts:

Tokyo 2021 Olympics
Olympic Aquatics Centre
Medal Table
USA – 11G, 10S, 9B
AUS – 9G, 3S, 8B

The short end of the stick, yet again. Better luck next time. LOL!

Sub13
Reply to  Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
2 months ago

Shall we compare the women’s teams that you love so much?

Australian women: 8 golds, 11/18 team members Olympic Champions
US women: 3 golds, 2/26 team members Olympic champions

I know which women’s team I would name my account after lol

Robbos
Reply to  Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
2 months ago

WOW, you really struggling, I’m not hating on the US team & happy of the golds they got.
But you really hating on McKeon, who just won the 50/100 free, the most competitive of all the events in Olympic record time, in the 100, the fastest anyone has swam, apart for 1 person who swim was in a low key relay leg with no pressure as Sweden doesn’t win medals in the relays.
You really must be hurting.

Troyy
Reply to  Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
2 months ago

Aussies are stoked about our medal count so that’s not much of an insult.

Greenanger78
Reply to  Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
2 months ago

26 million population v 333 million population. Think about that stat sunshine.

John Smithson
Reply to  Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
2 months ago

332 million Vrs 25 Million, Can you to Maths, and yes it’s Maths, I had a fight with the bloody spell checker to stop changing it to US spelling.

whever
Reply to  Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
2 months ago

You should change your username to McKeown-Hodges-McKeon-Campbell, because according to your favorite wikipedia and fina.org, they are the medley relay champions at the 2021 Summer Olympics. 😀

Sub13
Reply to  Corn Pop
2 months ago

She swims the same events too. Emma, Inge and Dressel all swim the same individual events. Interesting coincidence.

Rafael
2 months ago

Well.. pretty much impossible to have 7 medals unless you are a swimmer.

Some sports did not even have doubles or team just recently. Only other athlete which could come close to 7 was Scherbo and he missed his performance on one event.

It we take even if Bolt were as good as he was on 100/200 on the 400 he would not be able to have more than 5 medals..

The “Body Fit” for track and field is pretty much decisive to avoid you doing amazing on more than one/two events

Awsi Dooger
Reply to  Rafael
2 months ago

Imagine if gymnastics adds one or two mixed events. I’m kind of shocked it hasn’t happened already, since it’s already being done in swimming, track, biathlon and figure skating, etc.

Torchbearer
Reply to  Rafael
2 months ago

Any male gymnast in a team doing the all-round has a chance at 8 medals….

Chris
Reply to  Torchbearer
2 months ago

Agree – but far more than swimming (say) free/medley very well, gymnastics does require different body types to excel on each apparatus

Redhawk
Reply to  Rafael
2 months ago

Then Bolt should have figured out the hurdles. Phelps could do each an every stroke at an elite level. I hate this argument. Phelps beat so many people who were specializing in one event.

50free
2 months ago

Coaches stole at least one maybe two from dressel but to be fair coaches stole a gold from Mckeon but she also swam poorly there

Awsi Dooger
Reply to  50free
2 months ago

I thought the Australian order was ridiculous in that 4 x 200 relay. Maybe that’s what you are referring to. I don’t know what the consensus was here, since I was trying to avoid results. Titmus is not a relentless frontrunner. She needs a target to run down. I was shocked when I saw her leading off. It seemed like a waste and it played out that way. I thought McKeon should have led off. The adrenaline would have allowed her to sustain the natural speed. Then use Titmus on anchor where she almost certainly would have chased down anybody including Ledecky.

Sub13
Reply to  Awsi Dooger
2 months ago

I am convinced they were just trying to give Arnie another shot at the WR, and you can only do that as the lead off. In their minds they had already won, so they didn’t think it mattered.

Troyy
Reply to  Awsi Dooger
2 months ago

She said in an interview that she wasfatigued so putting her in a different position might not have made a difference. She also lead off in Gwangju bettering her individual time. Regardless one of the 2 big guns should’ve been on anchor and O’Callaghan should’ve been on the final team.

Robbos
Reply to  Troyy
2 months ago

This is why it made no sense to swim 4 swimmers in heat & then 4 swimmers in final, it was complacency.
As mentioned Titmus was quoted as saying she was fatigued, but racing against Ledecky may have pulled something out if she had last leg, McKeon dropped the 200 free & hence more training for 50/100, should have gone first may have just used her speed & try to hang on.
Blind Freddy could see that Wilson was not in the form of trials in her 4 X 100 Fee heats & her individual 200, but O’Callaghan had improved from trails to Olympics in 4 x 100 & later in 4 x 200.
Leah Neal actually… Read more »

Troyy
Reply to  Robbos
2 months ago

I think with a bit different pacing O’Callaghan would’ve gone a 1:54. Exciting prospect.

Joel
Reply to  Robbos
2 months ago

Giann Rooney on the off the blocks podcast, agree entirely with what we all said as soon as the heat sheets were released. Basically oh heck – this is not a good idea. Plus the order of the relay was really unfair on Neale. At least Tom Neill had had 2 swims before he anchored the 4×200 relay.

Sub13
Reply to  50free
2 months ago

If Dressel had swam the 4×200 (I don’t think it’s known whether it wasn’t offered to him or he turned it down), then it’s very possible he swims 0.07 slower the next day and loses one of his golds.

You can’t say he had a medal stolen but then ignore the fact that resting that race likely helped him in another. You can’t have it both ways.

Tyson
Reply to  Sub13
2 months ago

Even with dressel no one was catching GB and that’s even with Tom Dean having a poor swim on his lead off if it weren’t for that they would have taken down that WR

jeff
Reply to  Sub13
2 months ago

i mean in terms of total medals he would have more, but a gold in the 100 free was definitely more meaningful to him than like silver in 100 free + silver/bronze in 4×200. 100 free definitely could’ve gone the other way if Dressel had/Chalmers hadn’t swim the 4×200

Last edited 2 months ago by jeff
Sub13
Reply to  jeff
2 months ago

Yeah absolutely. If Dressel wants to trade his gold for Kyle’s silver plus Kyle’s relay bronze I would be 100% fine with that

Sub13
2 months ago

After two Olympics, Emma is tied 6th for most Olympic swimming medals of all time with 11.

The people ahead of her are Phelps (28 over 5 Olympics), Lochte (12 over 4 Olympics), Thompson (12 over 4 Olympics), Torres (12 over 5 Olympics) and Coughlin (12 over 3 Olympics).

Emma and Mark Spitz are the only swimmers to have 11 medals after only two Olympics, and Emma is the only female.

It is likely that after Paris we will have a new second placer behind Phelps! Emma needs 2 medals in Paris to outright take second place behind Phelps with 13, but realistically could get 5-7. The only swimmers realistically able to match or beat this in Paris would… Read more »

Personal Best
Reply to  Sub13
2 months ago

Is it known if Emma McKeon will continue on to Paris?
It’s only 3 years away so one would hope she would – she’s in the form of her life and can hopefully only get better and faster from here.

And re: Coughlin – one of the most impressive swimmers male or female. Her breadth in events was very impressive.

Sub13
Reply to  Personal Best
2 months ago

I don’t think she’s made any announcements, but given her form here and the fact that it’s a shorter cycle I would expect her to keep going.

David S
2 months ago

Dressel is on top.
It goes by gold

Justhereforfun
Reply to  David S
2 months ago

Jeez, which part of ‘medal COUNT’ do you not understand? I understand the argument that Dressel is the most decorated swimmer of these games, but if you’re talking about medal C.O.U.N.T. as stated in the title it’s just simple math bro

Sub13
Reply to  David S
2 months ago

The picture literally says “most medals”. If it was done by golds first then Thorpe would be the winner for 2000, not Nemov.