Each athlete's Olympic record only includes games in which they won medals. More information on when and for which country an athlete participated may be found in the individual's specific article. Some events have more medals accessible than others, and the total number of events with medals available has fluctuated over time.
The current numbers were confirmed by the IOC at the end of 2016: 5 gold, 10 silver, and 30 bronze. The totals do not include any unobtainium such as "Olympic quality" or "special status" medals.
They also do not include any medals awarded before the introduction of the modern system in 1936 (except for a single medal awarded to Sweden in 1900). Before then, medals were given out based on how well an athlete did compared to others competing in their event. There was no overall winner or runner-up of an event, so there is no way to know who might have won more medals if they had been able to keep them.
Of the 5 gold medals, 3 are awarded in athletics while the other 2 are in swimming. Silver medals abound in almost all sports except wrestling and boxing. Bronze medals are most common in gymnastics, diving, archery, and tennis.
There are several reasons why some events have more medallists than others. Some events are inherently more popular than others with the public or with the Olympic committee.
People who competed in the most recent Olympics, particularly the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, have their names in bold.
The following table shows the number of gold, silver, and bronze medals awarded in each sport at each of the last five Olympics. It also includes information about how many events were held in each sport and which countries have won the most medals in each sport.
Note that not all sports at each Olympics have been completed. At the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, ice dancing, snowboarding, and alpine skiing are still in progress as well as figure skating and short track speed skating. At the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, judo was cancelled after its only participant was injured during practice. In both cases, any medals won will be retroactively awarded.
There is no guarantee that these numbers will remain constant or increase over time. New events may be added or existing ones may be removed. Also, new technologies may be invented that allow for more than three medals in one event (e.g., rowing currently allows for up to eight individuals to compete simultaneously).
There are 258 athletes. How many medals were awarded in the first Winter Olympics? Only a few of the 258 competitors who competed in the inaugural Winter Olympics walked away with Olympic medals and historic experiences. The number of gold, silver, and bronze medals awarded is not known because no official medal count was kept by the International Olympic Committee.
The first Winter Olympics were held in St. Moritz, Switzerland from February 12 to March 2, 1838. A total of 15 events were contested by one man and one woman. This list includes all individuals who participated in at least one event of the tournament.
The most successful country at the inaugural Winter Games was Sweden with five gold medals. Norway followed with four golds and United States had three golds. No country earned more than two silver medals or worse yet, no medals at all.
In fact, there were only two countries that have never been defeated in an Olympic sport: Sweden and Hungary. Both nations are famous for their dominance in ice hockey and cross-country skiing respectively.
At the time of the first Winter Olympics, none of the events would be considered modern sports. Skating was not an individual activity but rather part of a larger team competition. Also, bobsledding and skeleton were not recognized as separate sports until 1978 and 1998 respectively.
A successful contestant at one of the Olympic Games receives an Olympic medal. Medals are awarded in three categories: gold, silver, and bronze for first, second, and third place, respectively. The awarding of medals is detailed in the Olympic protocols.
The first Olympic games were held in Athens in 1896. There were only two types of medal awarded: gold for first place and silver for second. These rules still apply to many sports today. In 1920, after the Olympics were cancelled due to World War I, a special category was created for those countries that did not have their own metals medal-worthy products. These "non-metal" medals are made of wood and covered with silver or bronze plates. Today, these are known as commemorative or honorary medals.
In 1936, the number of recognized events in athletics grew too large for a single event to award more than a single medal. Thus, a system of classes was introduced. Each class represented an achievement on the level of difficulty within the sport. For example, there would be a men's 100 meter race, a men's 1,500 meter race, a men's 5,000 meter race, and so on. The winners of each class competed against each other to determine a single overall winner.
In 1948, another change was made to the system. Instead of having multiple races for each event, all participants ran the same distance.