For those of us who haven’t spent our entire lives training, performing in even one Olympic Games seems daunting. Getting into the Olympics requires an incredible amount of time, dedication, and hard work, and for many athletes, it takes over their entire life. So imagine training for not one, but two, separate Olympic sports. It’s mind-blowing! And it’s also been done. There are athletes who have won both the Summer and Winter Olympic medals, a seriously impressive feat.
Most Olympic athletes don’t go double duty on the Games, which isn’t surprising — it’s a lot of work! Some, though, can’t seem to stay away from the competition. Once they win a medal in the sport of their choice, probably the highest point in that part of their career, many feel the desire to conquer another sport. And actually, it makes sense. In fact, the Winter Olympics were first created so that athletes could compete in both sets of Games.
So far, there have been about 128 Olympic athletes who have competed in both Summer and Winter Games. According to Wikipedia, the most popular combination is bobsledding and athletics (a combination of running, jumping, throwing, and walking), as well as cycling and speed skating. These pairs use similar muscles and skills.
Of course, not all 128 of those athletes won medals in both sets of Games (that is something that very few have been able to accomplish). At the moment, only five Olympic athletes have won medals at both the Summer and Winter Olympics.
Eddie Eagan, USA
Eagan is the first person to win a medal in both events. He is also the only Summer and Winter medalist to win a gold medal at these different events. In 1920, Eagan won the gold for light heavyweight boxing, and in winter 1932, won the gold for four-man bobsled.
Jacob Tullin Thams, Norway
Thams won a gold medal during the 1924 Olympic Games in ski jumping. Over 10 years later, in 1936, he won a silver medal in 8-meter yachting during the Summer Games.
Christa Luding-Rothenburger, East Germany
Luding-Rothenburger has made history by being the only athlete ever to win medals at the Winter and Summer Games, during the same year. In 1984, she won a gold medal for speed skating at 500 meters. In 1988, she won a gold medal for speed skating at 1000 meters, and a silver at 500 meters. Also, in 1988, she won a silver medal for match sprint cycling at the Summer Games. And then, in 1992, she went back to the Winter Games, where she won a bronze medal for speed skating at 500 meters.
Clara Hughes, Canada
Hughes made history of her own as the first athlete to win multiple medals at both the Summer and Winter Games. In 1996, she won bronze for individual road race cycling and bronze for individual time trial cycling at the Summer Games. In 2006, she won gold for speed skating and silver at Team Event at the Winter Games. In 2002 and 2010, she won bronze for speed skating at 500 meters.
Lauryn Williams, USA
Williams is the most recent athlete to be inducted into this elite list. In 2012, she won gold in athletics 4×100 meter relay, and in 2004 a silver at 100 meters during the Summer Games. In 2014, she won silver for two-woman bobsleigh at the Winter Games.
We can’t wait to see who makes the list next.