All-Time Top Medalists in the Athletics World Championships – Women

Ok, so now we’ve covered the men’s top medalists, it’s time to move on to the women. As you will see, in several ways the women’s situation is more intriguing than the men’s. But first let’s have a look at the standings and the leaders in both the gold medals and the total number of medals, regardless of colors. The tables’ format is the same as it was in the men’s post: You need 4 medals to gain an entry to the overall table, and 3 gold medals to be listed in the gold medals list.

Most Medals – Women (4+)   Most Gold Medals – Women (3+)
Athlete # of Medals   Athlete # of Medals
Merlene Ottey 14 Allyson Felix 8
Allyson Felix 10 Gail Devers 5
Jearl Miles Clark 9 Sanya Richards-Ross 5
Veronica Campbell 9 Tirunesh Dibaba 5
Gail Devers 8 Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce 5
Gwen Torrence 8 Jackie Joyner-Kersee 4
Beverly McDonald 7 Jearl Miles Clark 4
Heike Drechsler 7 Valerie Adams 4
Lorraine Fenton 7 Astrid Kumbernuss 3
Yuliya Pechonkina 7 Carmelita Jeter 3
Carmelita Jeter 7 Carolina Kluft 3
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce 7 Franka Dietzsch 3
Anastasiya Kapachinskaya 6 Gabriela Szabo 3
Grit Breuer 6 Gwen Torrence 3
Irina Privalova 6 Lauryn Williams 3
Sanya Richards-Ross 6 Maria Mutola 3
Christine Arron 5 Marion Jones 3
Deon Hemmings 5 Marita Koch 3
Eunice Barber 5 Merlene Ottey 3
Inga Babakova 5 Olga Kaniskina 3
Lauryn Williams 5 Sabine Busch 3
Maria Mutola 5 Silke Gladisch 3
Merlene Frazer 5 Tatyana Dorovskikh 3
Novlene Williams-Mills 5 Tatyana Lebedeva 3
Sandie Richards 5 Vivian Cheruiyot 3
Shericka Williams 5 Brittney Reese 3
Tatyana Lebedeva 5 Natasha Hastings 3
Kerron Stewart 5 Yelena Isinbayeva 3
Lashinda Demus 5
Meseret Defar 5
Natalya Antyukh 5
Tirunesh Dibaba 5
Valerie Adams 5
Antonina Krivoshapka 5
Christine Ohuruogu 5
Chandra Sturrup 4
Debbie Ferguson McKenzie 4
Fernanda Ribeiro 4
Fiona May 4
Inger Miller 4
Jackie Joyner-Kersee 4
Juliet Cuthbert 4
Katrin Krabbe 4
Marion Jones 4
Marita Koch 4
Muriel Hurtis 4
Nadezhda Ostapchuk 4
Nadine Kleinert 4
Natasha Brown 4
Nicoleta Grasu 4
Olga Kuzenkova 4
Silke Gladisch 4
Steffi Nerius 4
Svetlana Feofanova 4
Svetlana Krivelyova 4
Tatyana Kotova 4
Tatyana Dorovskikh 4
Torri Edwards 4
Vivian Cheruiyot 4
Yipsi Moreno 4
Zhanna Pintusevich 4
Anna Chicherova 4
Natasha Hastings 4
Yarelys Barrios 4
Yelena Isinbayeva 4

Ok, some interesting stuff here…

First of all, look at Merlene Ottey! 14 medals in total! But alas, only 3 of them are gold! WTF?! No wonder she was known as the Bronze Queen. I mean, she is amazing and had a great career, which lasted more than 3 decades (me and dad both watched her compete when we were 20! How mind-fucking is THAT?!), but there was always something missing. 14 medals and only 3 gold ones?! She’s nowhere near the leaders in the gold medals list. In the Olympics it’s even worse – 9 medals total, but exactly zero golds. 0. I really don’t know where to rank her historically… Her longevity is amazing, her career was very successful, but she lacks the dominance of her male counterparts – Carl Lewis for example. She lacks the gold.

On the other hand, look at Allyson Felix! 10 medals total, with 8 gold ones! Now, Felix has been a favorite of mine ever since I first saw her at the 2004 Olympics, and she evolved to be immensely successful. In fact, and this is a spoiler for her Hall of Fame entry (I really need to start this!), she is the 2000’s incarnation of Marita Koch, minus the performance enhancing drugs. Such great results over three distances, 100-200-400! We really haven’t seen anything like this, well, except for Marion Jones, but I really don’t want to talk about Marion… She really broke my heart.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes, Allyson. In 2009, at only 23 years of age, she already became the all-time leader in gold medals. Two years later she added two more golds to increase her advantage over all the other athletes, and if it wasn’t for her unfortunate injury at the 2013 championships, she might have already reached double figures in the gold medals column. Amazing! She is only 28 years old, and has a couple more championships under her belt. I reckon she might catch Ottey in the overall table as well.

Number 3 on the overall list is Veronica Campbell, or Campbell-Brown actually. She has 9 medals, and until recently I considered her to be the greatest sprinter of the 21st century. That was until Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce claimed that title to herself, in my opinion (Felix is not a true sprinter in my opinion, although she specializes in the 200m. She lacks the explosiveness of the 100m sprinters). Anyway, now you probably want to look up Veronica on the gold medals list. Well, good luck with that! Apparently, Veronica only has 2 gold medals! Damn, that’s like Ottey all over again. Maybe some of Ottey’s gold-allergy rubbed off on Veronica after they both ran in the Jamaican relay quartet at the Sydney Olympics 14 years ago…

Jearl Miles-Clark shares with Veronica the 3rd position on the overall list. I guess her name doesn’t ring a bell to many of the current track & field fans. Well, Miles-Clark was a Jamaican 400m specialist, and the bulk of her medals were won via the 4*100 relays. She won 6 medals in the relays, over the course of 12 years (1991-2003), and in between managed to win 3 individual medals, with the pinnacle of her career being Stuttgart 1993, where she won both the individual and the relay titles. Not one of the track & field legends, but she earned her place in history…

Gail Devers, on the other hand, is a true legend. She is second in the gold medals table with 5, and 5th overall with 8. When I made my first baby steps as a track & field enthusiast she already concentrated on the 100 hurdles, and this is how I remember her, despite the fact that she is a two-time Olympic 100m champion. Her medals at the Worlds represent a mixture of the regular 100 and the 100 hurdles.

Sharing with Gail the second place in the gold medals table are 3 more athletes, two of whom are favorites of mine – Tirunesh Dibaba and Shelly-Ann. I never liked Sanya Richards-Ross, don’t really know why. Maybe it has to do with the fact that for a long time she failed to translate her superb abilities in the 400m to titles, both at the Worlds and the Olympics. Her PB, 48.70, is the best we’ve seen since fucking 1996! But her 2009 title remains her only individual one – all of her other gold medals are from the relays.

Now, Tirunesh is something else. The women’s Bekele, she became the youngest individual world champion EVAR at the 2003 Worlds. And since then she added four more triumphs, including a 5,000/10,000 double in 2005. The greatest distance runner in the past 10 years, her battles with Meseret Defar (a five-time medalist as well, but with only 2 golds) were something I always looked, and will look, forward to.

The third member of the 5-gold-medals-club is the amazing Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. Shelly-Ann was always a great sprinter, but it seems that she really found her mojo in 2012, because since then she was simply unstoppable, including a triple triumph at the 2013 championships. Ever since the 2008 Olympics I always thought that someone should hook her up with Bolt. I mean, they are the same age, both are Jamaicans, both are very good looking… why not? Imagine the genetic potential… It’ll be like Messi and Ronaldo making a child together… Damn. Hey, why can’t we hook up Messi and Ronaldo? For the sake of football fans all over the world!

Now, in the men’s post I mentioned that a certain woman track & fielder has the chance to equal Bubka’s amazing record of winning 6 World Championships in a row. That woman lies at 6th place at the moment in the gold medals table – the great Valerie Adams. Valerie is without a doubt THE greatest woman track & fielder right now. Her unparalleled dominance surpasses even that of the mighty Usain, and she is slowly climbing the all-time athletes rankings. She is virtually unbeaten since 2007, with her only defeat at a major competition coming at the 2010 indoor Worlds, when she was beaten by the cheating Nadzeya Ostapchuk, who was caught several times using illegal performance enhancing drugs, the last time being at the 2012 Olympics. This is why I don’t consider Valerie’s loss from 2010 to be a real loss, but what can you do?

Anyway, ever since her 2005 silver, Valerie won 4 titles in a row, and she is so clearly superior to her competitors that it is really not unreasonable to think that she can add two more world titles to her list of achievements, and equal Bubka’s amazing record. With 4 wins in a row at the Worlds, she already set a record for women, but really – why stop here? Less than two weeks ago she celebrated her 30th birthday, and she is still at her peak. Go Valerie!

So, what can we expect in the near future? Well, Allyson will surely add a few more medals to her totals at both overall and gold ones. She certainly has the potential to win 4 more, and then she will also be #1 overall, due to the gold medals tie-breaker with Ottey. I don’t think some present track & fielder will catch her in the gold medals table, but Shelly-Ann probably has the best chance of getting close. Valerie Adams might win 3 more golds – it’s a long shot but it’s possible – she will be 34 at the 2019 Worlds. If she does that, I’m giving her as many medals as she needs to put her on the #1 all-time gold medals list.

Shelly-Ann will probably finish with a double-digit number of total medals. Veronica Campbell is close too – she has a total of 9, but I don’t know – she will be 33 at the next championships, and with the entire doping affair she was dragged into last year… I don’t know. Maybe it’s the end of the road for her.

Now, what about comparing the men and the women? If we do that, we see that Ottey is the undisputed leader in terms of the total medals won, with 14. A long way behind her are Allyson Felix, Carl Lewis and Usain, with 10. Now, Allyson did win 4 medals at the 2011 championships, but it was a really a one-of-a-kind performance, which I doubt she will repeat. So, Ottey can lay safe at 1st place until at least 2017, when Bolt and Felix will probably surpass her.

In the gold medals table we have a quadruple tie between Usain, Michael Johnson, Lewis and Felix – they all have 8 gold medals. That will surely change after 2015, and my bet is on Bolt who will be the sole leader, with probably 11, but surely at least 10. Felix might also have 10, but this is far less certain.

An interesting question arises here when we look at the combined data… While Bolt is probably THE greatest male track & fielder ever, and MJ and Lewis are probably in the top 5-6 as well, what is Felix’s position? I don’t think someone considers her to be the greatest women track & fielder, although she does have a pretty good claim for the “greatest women of the last decade” title. I mean, I’m not even sure Allyson is the greatest woman track & fielder that I’ve seen, and I’ve been following T&F closely only from 1997. However, I must say that she does have a huge amount of silverware to support her claim for the “Decade’s Greatest” award, and she also possesses a rare ability to excel over many distances. 100-200-400, there is no male runner with the same capabilities and credentials over those distances. I mean, I’m pretty sure Bolt can be awesome at the 400, but until he proves it… Anyhow, after some thinking I think that if it was up to me, I’ll probably give the “Decade’s Greatest” title to Valerie, while Allyson will have to settle for being the leader in our medals lists.

That’s it folks! See ya next time.

"Being the all-time gold medals leader is great, but I'm more happy with the fact that Michael wrote about me in his blog!"

“Being the all-time gold medals leader is great, but I’m even more happy with the fact that Michael wrote about me in his blog!”

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