by Tim O’Hare
The 2014 Winter Olympics kick off today in Sochi, Russia. Thousands of athletes from around the world (including 230 from the United States) have gathered in Sochi to compete in 15 various winter sporting events.
Though the Winter Olympics are not as big as the Summer Olympics, there is still a sense of excitement leading up to the Winter Games. This year’s Olympic games are unique for a number of reasons. Did you know the Sochi Olympics will go down in history as the most expensive Olympics in history, costing nearly $51 billion? To put it in perspective, the 2010 Vancouver Olympics cost just $8 billion.
There are also more countries represented in the Winter Olympics this year than ever before. Athletes from 88 countries will compete this year, including for the first time, athletes from Paraguay and Zimbabwe.
In honor of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, I’ve put together a list of my picks for the Top 10 American Olympic Athletes of all time.
10. Bob Mathias — First man to ever win two Decathlon gold medals, winning in 1948 in London and 1952 in Helsinki. One of only two men to accomplish this feat.
9. Matt Biondi — Swimmer who has won 11 medals in his Olympic career, including gold medals in 1984, 1988 and 1992.
8. Florence Griffith-Joyner — Captured three gold medals in Track and Field in Seoul in 1988. Died in her sleep when she was only 38.
7. Apollo Anton Ohno — The most decorated Winter Olympian in U.S. history, with 8 medals, including two golds.
6. Mary Lou Retton — First American to win All-Around Gold in Women’s Gymnastics, reached icon status after the 1984 Olympics.
5. Mark Spitz — Nine-time gold medalist in his in Olympic career; held the record for most Olympic gold medals until Michael Phelps broke the record in 2012.
4. Jesse Owens — Won four gold medals in Berlin in 1936. Owens was as important culturally at this time in world history as he was to the U.S. team.
3. Michael Phelps — Holds the record for most Olympic medals with 19 total, including 15 Golds. Phelps is the most decorated U.S. Olympian ever.
2. Carl Lewis – Won nine gold medals in four Olympic games including four straight Long Jump Golds — a feat unlikely to ever be repeated.
1. 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team — No group of Olympians made more of an impact on the nation than the Men’s Gold Medal winning hockey team coached by the late Herb Brooks. Led by Captain Mike Eruzione and Goalie Jim Craig, the Americans defeated the highly favored Soviets before winning the gold at Lake Placid, New York in 1980 at the height of the Cold War.
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