Olympics and world championship medals are the most reliable markers of greatness. For the team athletes, this form of greatness shows up in all-star-picks, national team selection, and in honors of specific positions like best defensive player, best pitcher, best quarter back and the most decorated player of the all times. There is no doubt in saying that the United States has always been the most successful and prestigious among all the nations since the times of the first modern Olympics in the 1896. Michael Phelps has won 14 of the most astonishing gold medals. Carl Lewis had won 9 gold medals in the long jump as well as the sprinting in the 1980’s. Not to forget the greatest of them all, Michael Jordon. In the last 29 Olympic Games, an estimated of 12,000 medals have been handed out to different athletes all around the world. From Athens in 1896 to the city of London 2012, more than half of the Olympic Games have been held in the continent of Europe. After taking a full round in the year 2004, the Olympics had returned to the city where it had all started i.e. Athens. This list has been formulated for some of the greatest athletes of all times.  Below is the list the top 10 most decorated and celebrated Olympians of all times which would prove to be an all in one treat for the 2012 London Olympics.

10. Matt Biondi

One of the facts about the swimming sport is that nearly 1/3rd of all the medals in the game have been won by Americans. Not surprisingly, Matt is in the lead of the four of the all-time best swimmers. He is also the top spot in terms of the best athletes that the American nation has produced. Thorough this course of his Olympic career in the free style category he had won a total of 11 medals out of which eight were gold medals, two silver and a single bronze medal. These medals were won by him in the Olympics of 1984, 1988 and his last Olympic Games of the year 1992.

9. Jenny Thompson

Known to be one of the most versatile and greatest butterfly-free style swimmer of all times, Jenny Thompson has made it our number 9th spot. It is due to the number of medals she has won in the Olympics that she is now considered as the best female American swimmer of all times. The medal count is as follows: 8 gold medals, three silver ones and 1 bronze. These medals were won by her in the Olympics of the year 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004. In her most recent interview she had stated that she still desires to do some more in the domain of Olympics games. Jenny is indeed unparalleled in terms of passion and spirit for the Olympic Games.

8. Sawao Kato

Known as the most successful and greatest Olympic Gymnast of all time, Sawao Kato has made it our number 8th spot. Not to forget the fact that he is also the best Japanese Olympian of all times. With the two times consecutive parallel bars gold medals and being a time all-round champion of the game, Sawao kato is the man who truly defined this sport. His Olympic career medals are as follows: eight gold, one bronze and three silver medals in the years 1968, 1972 and 1976. For those who want to know to the true worth of this gifted and rare athlete, just ask about him from any International Gymnast.

7. Birgit Fischer

Brigit is the only Olympic player in history to have competed in six Olympics. She had started her career as a player from East Germany and ended it as a player from the United Germany which indeed elucidates the amount of experience and skill this athlete had in the domain of her sport. While playing for East Germany she had won a gold medal which made him the youngest ever canoeing gold medalist. No doubt, she is the best and most celebrated athlete of the German Nation. During the course of her Olympic career she was won 8 gold medals and four silver medals in the Olympics of the 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, and the 2004.

6. Bjorn Daehlie

At number 6 we have the only winter Olympian who has made it the list of the top 10 most celebrated Olympians. Known to be the most experienced and greatest cross-country skier of all times and the star icon of Norway, he had won 8 gold and 4 silver medals in the years 1992, 1996 and 1998. Surprisingly, Bjorn had always wanted to play football for the National team, but later onwards had changed his interest.

5. Carl Lewis

At number 5 we have one of the greatest athletes in this history of the American nation, Carl Lewis. He had appeared in four Olympic Games and was also all ready for the fifth one before it was boycotted in the year 1980. Like most of the other athletes, this guy was not only limited in one domain and had competed in racing and the long jumping sport. What makes him one of the greatest is the fact that he had amazed the entire world in his very first Olympic performance in which he had leveled Jesse Owens record. In his Olympic Career he had managed to earn 9 gold medals and 1silver in the years 1984, 1988, 1992 and 1996.

4. Mark Spitz

Honored with the world swimmer award in the years 1969, 1971 and 1972 and with a number of Olympic medals, Mark Spitz has made it our number 4th spot. He was the only athlete to have won seven gold medals in a single Olympics, a record which was broken by another athlete recently. Mark has just recently stated that in fact he would have won 8 medals if there was a 50 m free style race included at that time. His record medals include 9 gold medals, one silver and one bronze earned in the years 1968 and 1972.

3. Paavo Nurmi

Still considered to be one of the all-time best long distance and middle distance runners of all time, Paavo Nurmi has made it our number 3 spot. Originally belonging to Finland, this man had competed in the Olympics from 1920-1928, but was unable to compete in the year 1932. Through the course of his Olympic career he had won 9 gold and three silver medals. Paavo was also known as the “The King of the Runners” and “The Flying Finn”.

2. Larissa Latynina

At number we have the female who has the record for the greatest number of Olympic medals ever earned in the Olympic history. This female Gymnast had won a total of 18 medals for Ukraine which makes her indeed the best athlete for Ukraine and one of the best in the world. Further to your surprise, she had won such great number of medals only in three Olympics. Her record medals include nine gold medals, five silvers and four bronze in the Olympics of the year 1956, 1960 and 1964.

1.    Michael Phelps

Known all around the world as the Baltimore Bullet and “The American Phenom”, Michael Phelps is indeed the most decorated and greatest athlete of all times. In the sport of swimming it is Michael who holds the most number of world records. He has till now broken nearly 39 world records and is also heavily loaded for breaking some more in the 2012 Olympics. He had broken the record of Mark Spitz by winning his eighth gold medal on the 17th of August, a record which had never broken from the year 1972. In his Olympic Career, he has earned 14 Olympic gold medals, which is the highest ever by any athlete. He is also the only athlete to have won the most number of gold medals in individual events.