Gold-Medal Baby Names

Think your child is destined for greatness? Get baby-name inspiration from these former (and current) Summer Olympics greats.


Olympic gold medal iStockphoto

Phelps Michael Phelps has won the most Olympic gold medals of anyone in history — but you can skip his all-too-popular first name and try Phelps, a British name that means “son of Philip.”

Bruce Long before he became the ?ber-tanned stepfather of the Kardashian clan, Bruce Jenner was a decathlon gold medalist and one of the first Olympians to be featured on the Wheaties box. The name Bruce means “forest.”

Jesse Track-and-field legend Jesse Owens won the most gold medals at the 1936 Munich Olympics — four of them. (This record miffed Hitler, who had hoped that his Olympics would be a showcase of Aryan dominance — and Owens was African-American.) Jesse, a Hebrew name that means wealthy or gift, is currently in the top 150 names for boys.

Mark Swimmer Mark Spitz once held the record for the most gold medals won at a single Olympic games — until Michael Phelps hit the pool in the 2008 Olympics. In his career, Spitz won 11 medals total, during the 1968 and 1972 Olympics — and he’s one of only five Olympians to win nine or more career golds.

Greg Olympic diver Greg Louganis won five medals, including four golds, over the course of three Olympics. He was one of the first Olympians to come out as gay, and one of the first major athletes to announce that he is HIV-positive. The name Greg means “vigilant.”

Carl Track-and-field legend Carl Lewis won nine gold medals (10 medals total) during his career — and was chosen as the Olympian of the Century by Sports Illustrated. Carl is short for Carlton, an English place name.

Jim Native American Jim Thorpe has long been considered the ultimate athlete. After winning Olympic gold in both the decathlon and the pentathlon at the 1912 Olympic games, Thorpe went on to play professional football, baseball, and basketball. Though he was stripped of his medals when it came out that he had played pro baseball before the Olympics, the Olympic Committee posthumously reinstated them. Jim is a nickname for James, which means “supplanter” and currently ranks in the top 20 names for boys.


    Mary Lou Who could forget the beaming gymnastics phenom Mary Lou Retton? She won five medals at the 1984 Olympics, including the gold in the All-Around, after scoring perfect 10s in two events. Her name is a combination of Mary, which means “bitter,” and Lou, which means “warrior maiden.”

    Nadia Romanian gymnast Nadia Comăneci rocked the 1976 Olympics, becoming the first female gymnast to score a perfect 10 in an Olympic event, en route to scoring three golds, two silvers and a bronze at that Olympics — and a total of nine Olympic medals overall. She later defected to the U.S, and now trains future gymnasts. The name Nadia means “hope.”

    Natalie U.S. swimmer Natalie Coughlin won 12 medals in her Olympic career, and became the first American woman to win six medals in a single Olympics, at the 2008 Beijing games. The name Natalie means “birthday.”

    Nastia American gymnast Nastia Liukin won the all-around gymnastic gold medal at the 2008 Olympics, along with four other medals. Her name is a variant of Nastassia, which means “resurrection.”

    Misty Misty May-Treanor is part of the winningest beach volleyball pair in history, having won two golds at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics (and currently in contention for the gold at the 2012 games). Her name means “mist.”

    Florence Florence Griffith-Joyner is considered the fastest woman of all time, still holding the record for the 100- and 200-meter races — and scoring five medals at the 1984 and 1988 games. Florence is a Latin name that means “flowering.”

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