Top 15 youngest Olympic gold medalists of all time: rankings

Top 15 youngest Olympic gold medalists of all time: rankings

Helix Odhiambo
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:03 PM

The Olympics is an international sports event held every four years, featuring different games. It attracts athletes and participants from various countries who compete for glory and pride. Some become winners at a young age, while others triumph at old age. This article looks at some of the youngest Olympic gold medalists and what they achieved.

Youngest Olympic gold medalists
Photo: (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Many athletes usually dream of winning at least a gold medal at the Olympic Games in their careers. It is considered the second-most competitive sporting event after the FIFA World Cup. So, who is the youngest Olympian to win a gold medal? Find out more below.

The youngest Olympic gold medalists list

Like other sports, the Olympics is also full of surprises and nail-biting moments. Some athletes have even defied the odds by clinching gold medals as teenagers, defeating experienced opponents. Here is a list of 15 Olympic champions who made history at a young age.

15. Warren Kenneth (American) - 17

Warren Kenneth won America a gold medal in the golf tournament at the 1904 Games aged 17. He remains one of the youngest Olympic champions in history.

14. Bob Mathias (American) - 17

Youngest Olympic gold medalist in track and field
USA's Bob Mathias, decathlon gold medalist, throwing the discus at a track and field event. Photo: S&G
Source: Getty Images

Mathias was a talented decathlon athlete who dominated the sport in the 20th century. He won his first gold medal in the sport in 1948, aged 17 and a second in 1952. Bob is also the youngest Olympic gold medalist in track and field events.

13. Helene Mayer (Germany) - 17

The late German fencer shocked the world by claiming the gold medal at the 1928 Amsterdam Games in the individual foil aged 17. Helene was an extraordinary athlete who mastered the art of fencing at a young age.

12. Seo Hyang-Soon (South Korean) - 17

Another 17-year-old gold medalist is South Korean archer Seo Hyang-Soon. She outshined her opponents during the 1984 games in Los Angeles by finishing first in the archery event.

11. Chen Zong (China) - 17

Zong is among the youngest Olympic gold medalists in the 21st century. The Chinese athlete won the top prize in taekwondo aged 17 at the 2000 Games in Sydney, Australia.

10. Claressa Shields (America) - 17

Youngest Olympic gold medalist as of 2022
Claressa Shields of the USA celebrates with the gold medal she won during the women's boxing Middleweight (75kg) at the 2012 London Games. Photo: Alberto Pizzo
Source: Getty Images

Shields made history by clinching gold at the 2012 London Games in women's boxing. She overcame her rivals to win the coveted prize at 17 years old.

9. Sandy Neilson (America) - 16

Olympic champions
The US Women's 4×100 metre freestyle team at the 1972 Summer Olympics. (L-R) Shirley Babashoff, Jane Barkman, Sandy Neilson, Jenny Kemp. Photo: Tony Triolo
Source: Getty Images

If you think winning gold at 17 was the most impressive, how about 16? Sandy Neilson stunned the world as an underdog aged 16 by winning the 100-meter freestyle in 58.59 seconds at the 1972 Games in Munich.

8. Betty Robinson (America) - 16

Youngest Olympic gold medalist in track and field
American Betty Robinson (second from left) won the final of the women's 100 Metres event at the Olympic Games in Amsterdam on 31 July 1928. Photo: Central Press
Source: Getty Images

Betty Robinson was yet another outstanding athlete who won the women's 100m dash at the 1928 games in Amsterdam aged 16. She is also known as the first-ever woman to win the event.

7. Jennifer Capriati (America) - 16

Who is the youngest Olympian to win a gold medal?
USA's Jennifer Capriati won a gold medal in the women's singles tennis event at the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona. Photo: Ross Kinnaird
Source: Getty Images

Besides Neilson and Robinson, legendary tennis player Jennifer Capriati also grabbed gold at 16 during the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona, Spain. Capriati defeated the reigning champion and No.1 seed, Steffi Graf.

6. Sun Shuwei (China) - 17

Youngest Olympic gold medalist ever
Sun Shuwei of China diving during the 1992 Summer Games. He is among the youngest gold winners in Olympics history. Photo: Phil O'Brien
Source: Getty Images

While Capriati was making history in the tennis event, China's Sun Shuwei defied the odds in diving. He took home a gold medal on the 10m platform at the 1992 games, becoming the first Chinese to win the event.

5. Yasuji Miyazaki (Japan) - 15

Youngest Olympic gold medalists by country
Japan's freestyle swimming sensation, Yasuji Miyazaki, at the 1932 Games in America. Photo: Ullstein Bild
Source: Getty Images

Imagine winning a gold medal at 15. That is the feeling Yasuji Miyazaki had during the 1932 Games in America. The legendary Japanese swimmer obtained the coveted award following his remarkable swimming abilities.

4. Tara Lipinski (American) - 15

In 1998, former American skater Tara Lipinski won a gold medal at the Nagano Olympic Games, making her the youngest winner of an individual award. She also won numerous skating championships in her career.

3. Nadia Comaneci (Romania) - 14

Youngest Olympic gold medalist in the world
Nadia Comaneci, with one of the three gold medals she won at the Montreal Games in July 1976. Photo: Wally McNamee
Source: Getty Images

Is Nadia Comaneci the youngest Olympic gold medalist ever? The Romanian gymnast walked away with the top prize at the 1976 Summer Games. She also became the first-ever gymnast awarded a perfect ten at the event.

2. A (America) - 14

Who is the youngest Olympian to win a gold medal?
US gymnast Dominique Moceanu waves to fans in July 1996 after competing in the women's team gymnastic compulsories at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Photo: Eric Feferberg
Source: Getty Images

Not many athletes are capable of winning a gold medal like Dominique Moceanu, who did it as a teenager. Moceanu was part of the 1996 US women's gymnastics team known as The Magnificent Seven that won the competition. She is the second-youngest Olympic gold medalist in the world.

1. Marjorie Gestring (America) - 13

Youngest Olympic gold medalist
13-year-old Marjorie Gestring preparing to dive into the pool during the 1936 Berlin Games. Photo: Bettmann
Source: Getty Images

Marjorie Gestring is the youngest Olympic gold medalist as of 2023. Her victory in the 1936 games in Berlin, Germany, aged 13, has never been matched. Gestring helped the US women's diving team win the top prize in the event.

Youngest Olympic gold medalists by country

The United States of America is the county with the youngest athletes on our list who won gold medals at the Olympics.


No. of young Olympic gold medalists





South Korea








Marjorie Gestring's record as the youngest Olympic gold medalist in history has stood the test of 86 years. Meanwhile, fans will be waiting to see if someone will break it in the 2024 edition in Paris, France.

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Helix Odhiambo photo
Helix Odhiambo
Helix Odhiambo is an award-winning Kenyan journalist and content creator with over 6 years of experience. In 2016, he won the Goal Blaze Correspondent Award for young writers.