The modern Olympic Games has staged riveting tussles and close finishes between champion athletes for the distinctive gold medal. The second-placed athletes have not fallen short of greatness either, with several monumental performances marked in their names in Olympic history.

Sportstar takes  a look at the men and women who have stood a yard away from the spotlight as the most decorated Olympics silver medal winners.

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Alexander Dityatin, gymnastics - 6 (URS, 1976-1980)

The former Soviet Union star, Dityatin registered 10 Olympic medals from two appearances with a bundle of silvers and a deluge of records. An 18-year-old Dityatin won two silver medals (team, rings) in the 1976 Montreal Olympics before dazzling the 1980 Moscow Olympics with a scintillating performance. 

Dityatin became the first person to win eight medals (three golds, four silvers, one bronze) at a single Games - winning a medal in every artistic gymnastics event. Besides the record six silver medal haul, Dityatin also became the first man to achieve the perfect 10 in the Olympics by performing the near-impossible in the all-around vault.


Besides the record six silver medal haul, Dityatin also became the first man to achieve the perfect 10 in the Olympics by performing the flying routine in the vault. 


Mikhail Voronin, gymnastics - 6 (URS, 1968-1972)

Russian artistic gymnast Voronin won seven medals - two golds, one bronze and four silvers - in his first Olympics appearance in 1968.

The Soviet athlete returned to the Games in 1972 to win silver medals in the team and rings events, taking his silver medal tally to six. He won nine Olympics medals in total.

Nikolai Andrianov, gymnastics - 5 (URS, 1972-1980)

Nikolai Andrianov - another Soviet gymnast - is the most decorated Olympian of the lot. Andrianov’s tally of 15 medals ( seven golds, five silvers and two bronze medals) from three Olympics is second among men in Olympic history, behind Michael Phelps’ 28.

In his first Games in 1972, Andrianov won gold, silver and bronze across three events before leading the honours board with most medals in the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Andrianov won four golds, two silvers and a bronze to clinch most medals at the Games. In his final Olympic appearance in 1980, the 28-year-old added two golds, two silvers and a bronze.


Andrianov’s tally of 15 medals from three Olympic appearances, is second among men in Olympic history, only behind Michael Phelps’ 28.


Viktor Lisitsky, gymnastics - 5 (URS, 1964-1968)

Soviet Union’s Viktor Lisitsky made his Olympics debut at the 1964 Tokyo Games where he won four silver medals. Lisitsky took the second spot in the individual all-around, vault, floor and team events. The hunt for gold continued at the 1968 Mexico Olympics, however, Lisitsky had to settle for a solitary silver medal in the team event - leaving him with five silver medals in his Olympics career.

Edoardo Mangiarotti, fencing - 5 (ITA, 1936-1960)

Fencing was indeed in his blood, and the Italian Mangiarotti took to the Olympic stage with ease. At the tender age of 17, Mangiarotti won a team epee gold in his first Games in 1936. With the second World War wiping out two Olympic Games in 1940 and 1944, Mangiarotti returned at the 1948 Games in London, winning two silvers and a bronze.

Mangiarotti improved his record by winning four medals (two golds, two silvers) at the 1952 Helsinki Games. In his later appearances in 1956 and 1960, Mangiarotti gathered three golds, a silver and a bronze. He finished his career as the most prolific fencer in Olympic history with 13 medals (six golds, five silvers and two bronze medals).


Shirley Babashoff, aquatics - 6 (USA, 1972-1976)

In 1972, Shirley Babashoff won two silver medals in individual freestyle events (100m, 200m) and two relay golds (4*100m freestyle, 4*100m medley) at the Munich Olympics.

Babashoff won four silver medals at the 1976 Montreal Olympics (200m, 400m, 800m freestyle and 4*100m medley) alongside a team gold in the 4*100m freestyle. Her cumulative medals tally lists three golds and a record six silver medals among women in Olympics history.


Members of the US women’s 400-metre freestyle relay team wave the flag after winning a gold medal at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games. From left are Wendy Boglioli, Jill Sterkel, Kim Peyton and Shirley Babashoff.


Mariya Gorokhovskaya, gymnastics - 5 (URS, 1952)

Soviet Union’s Gorokhovskaya dominated the 1952 Helsinki Games. Gorokhovskaya made the most of her solitary Olympics appearance by clinching seven medals - the most among women in a single Olympics. 

The 31-year-old won team and all-around golds and took five silver medals (Team PA, Balance Beam, Vault, Uneven Bars, Floor Exercise. 

Dagmar Hase, aquatics - 5 (GER, 1992-1996)

Germany’s versatile swimmer Dagmar Hase won four medals in her maiden Olympics at the 1992 Barcelona Games. The 23-year-old won gold in 400 metres Freestyle and racked up three silvers in 100m backstroke, 200m backstroke and the 4 x 100 metres medley events.

Four years later, at the Atlanta Games, Hase added three silver medals (400m freestyle, 800m freestyle, 4*100m freestyle) and a bronze (200m freestyle) to end her Olympic career with seven medals, including five silvers. 

Larisa Latynina, gymnastics - 5 (URS, 1956-1964)

The most dominant woman in Olympics history, Soviet Union’s Latynina left an indelible mark in her three appearances at the Games. In the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, Latynina won four golds besides a silver in Uneven Bars and a bronze in team apparatus. 

Latynina added five golds, four silvers and three bronze medals in her Olympic appearances in 1960 and 1964. She ended up with 18 Olympics medals, including nine golds, five silvers, and four bronze medals - the most among women in Olympics history. 

Anky Van Grunsven, equestrian - 5 (NED, 1988-2012)

Dutch dressage star Van Grunsven competed in seven Olympic Games in her 24-year career. Van Grunsven fell short of a podium finish in her maiden Games in 1988 but returned to clinch her first dressage silver at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.


Grunsven made history as the first rider to win successive Olympic golds in the same event - the individual dressage in 2000, 2004 and 2008.


In the ‘96 Atlanta Games, Van Grunsven took silver in both the individual and team dressage events. Grunsven then made history as the first rider to win successive Olympic golds in the same event (individual dressage in 2000, 2004, 2008) while also adding two silver medals (team dressage in 2000, 2008). Van Grunsven drew the curtain on a decorated Olympics career in the 2012 London Games, where she added a bronze medal to complete her collection of 10 prestigious medals.