The first modern Summer Olympics were held in 1896, in Athens Greece, soon becoming one of the most coveted international events that was held every four years. Since then, each Olympics has seen a generation of young Olympians take the stage, making their mark among the greats.
According to the Olympic rules, there is no age limit for taking part in the Games. The age for a particular sport depends on the rules that are laid down by the International Federation of that particular sport. Some sports like table tennis do not have a minimum age limit while sports like Men’s soccer require a minimum age of 23 now. Gymnastics initially had a minimum age of 14 but was later changed to 16.
At the Tokyo Olympics, a new generation of prodigies is all set to make history at the Games, with 11-year-old table tennis player Hend Zaza becoming the youngest player to qualify. Sky Brown will be making her Olympic debut at the age of just 12 in skateboarding.
Let us take a look at the 10 youngest Olympic Medallists over the years.
10 Youngest Olympic Medallists in the History of the Summer Olympics
10. Kusuo Kitamura- 14 years and 309 days
Kusuo Kitamura was a Japanese swimmer who competed at the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1932. One of the youngest athletes selected for the Japanese Contingent, he won gold in the men’s 1500m freestyle event. At the age of 14 years and 309 days, Kitamura also set a record for the youngest male swimmer to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games.
This was the only Olympics that Kitamura participated in, and retired soon after. He went on to graduate university and work for the Japanese Government.
9. Nadia Comaneci- 14 years old
Nadia Comaneci is considered to be one of the best gymnasts in the history of the field. At the age of just 14, Comaneci participated in the 1976 Montreal Olympics, where she won an impressive 5 medals of which 3 were gold. Comaneci was also the first gymnast to receive a perfect 10 a feat that had never been achieved before. She went on to achieve 6 perfect 10s at the same Olympics, helping her win the coveted all-around medal.
At the 1980 Olympics, she went on to win 4 medals winning a silver in the all-around event. She retired after 1990, and in 2000, she was named as one of the Athletes of the 20th Century by the Laureus World Sports Academy.
8. Dominique Moceanu- 14 years old
Dominique Moceanu was a gymnast who was a part of the Magnificent Seven Gymnastics team at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. She was one of the last gymnasts to legally compete at the age of 14 before the rules were changed. Moceanu was considered a threat to win the all-around individual title, but a stress fracture before the Olympics meant that she could only participate in the team all around.
She helped the team to win a gold in the team all-around with strong performances on the floor and balance beam. Moceanu retired in 2000 and did not participate in any other Olympics owing to a knee injury. She now runs the Dominique Moceanu Gymnastics Center and Carmen Yoga Studio in Medina, Ohio.
7. Fu Mingxia- 13 years and 345 days
Fu Mingxia is a Chinese female diver and was the youngest diving world champion at the age of just 12. She participated in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, where at the age of just 13 years and 345 days, she went on to win the gold medal in 10m platform diving, making her one of the youngest Olympic diving champions.
Fu continued her dominance, winning two gold medals at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics in 3m springboard and 10m platform diving. She won a gold medal in the Fu continued her dominance, winning two gold medals at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics in 3m springboard and 10m platform diving. She won a gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics as well and silver in synchro springboard. She joining Americans Pat McCormick and Greg Louganis as the world’s only quadruple Olympic-diving champions.
6. Klaus Zerta- 13 years and 283 days
Klaus Zerta is a retired German coxswain. He represented West Germany at the 1980 Rome Olympics in the paired cox event. He was the youngest medallist at the 1960 Games and is considered to be the youngest confirmed male medallist in history. He did not compete in any other Olympics, and not much is known about him since.
5. Marjorie Gestring- 13 years and 268 days
Marjorie Gestring is a Competitive Diver, who represented US at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. She won a gold medal in 3m springboard diving, making her the second-youngest Olympian to ever win a gold medal. Gestring held the women’s national 3m springboard title in 1938, 1939, and 1940.
Following the 1936 Olympics, the 1940 Olympics were cancelled due to the World War. Gestring did not return to the Olympics after, finish fourth in the 1948 Olympic trials.
4. Noel Vandernotte- 12 years and 233 days
Noel Vandernotte was a coxswain who represented France at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. He remains to date the youngest athlete to represent France at the Summer Olympics. Noel created history in 1936, where he won 2 medals on the same day.
He took 2 bronze medals in the coxed pair event and the coxed four competition. This also made him the youngest French medallist of all time. Noel recently passed away at the age of 96.
3. Inge Sorensen- 12 years old
Inge Sorensen represented Denmark in competitive swimming. At the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Inge competed in the 200m breaststroke event and went on to win bronze. This made her the youngest athlete to win an Olympic medal in an individual event.
She set 14 Danish records in breaststroke and broke the world record on 400 m and 500 m breaststroke. Inge became the first Danish female swimmer under 3 minutes on 200 m breaststroke. She passed away in 2011 at the age of 86.
2. The Italian Gymnastics Team- 11 and 12 years old
At the 1928 Olympics, Italy sent a group of 3 young gymnasts to represent the country at Olympics. The team comprised of Luigina Giavotti, who was 11 years and 301 days old, Ines Vercesi who was 12 years and 99 days old, and Carla Marangoni, who was 12 years and 269 days old.
The 3 gymnasts won a silver medal at the 1928 Olympics in the team all-around event. Luigina became the youngest ever gymnast to win a medal, a record which cannot be broken due to the change in the minimum age for participation.
1. Dimitrios Loundras- 10 years and 218 days
Dimitrios Loundras is the youngest ever Olympic medal winner ever at the age of just 10 years and 218 days. He participated in gymnastics in the first-ever modern Olympics in 1896. He took home a bronze medal in the men’s team parallel bar event.
This made him the youngest Olympic medallist in history, a record which seems unlikely to be broken ever.