The Winter Olympics are well underway in PyeongChang, South Korea. And having won his third Gold medal in the halfpipe this week, snowboarding legend Shaun White admitted he’s setting his sights on competing in the skateboarding at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games. And that got us thinking – has winning medals in two separate sports ever been done? And has it ever been done in separate Summer/Winter Games?

Olympians to Win Medals in Two Different Sports

Believe it or not, winning multiple medals in separate events is far more common than you may think. Apart from the obvious examples of winning separate events in the same sport – the 200m and 400m in Athletics, for example – the likes of Water Polo and Swimming at the Summer Games, and Cross-Country Skiing and Nordic Combined at the Winter Games require many of the same attributes to be successful. So much so, four athletes a piece have medalled in both these sports alone.

Medallists in Separate Sports at the Summer Olympics

There have, however, been well over 50 other examples of athletes winning medals in two contrasting sports at the Summer Olympics. In the first ever modern Olympics in 1896 alone, a total of six competitors won medals in different sports. But as the professionalism of sport has progressed, the feat has naturally become much harder to replicate.

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American Karch Kiraly achieved Gold in both the Volleyball and Beach Volleyball in 1984 and 1996, respectively, but it’s Brit Rebecca Romero who holds one of the most impressive Olympic feats of modern times. Having won Silver at the Athens 2004 Olympics in the Rowing quadruple sculls, she was forced to retire in 2006 following a persistent back injury.

Romero later took up track cycling, and made incredible progress in the new sport, culminating in her representing Team GB at the 2008 Games in Beijing. She became the first British woman ever to compete in two different sports at the Olympics when she rode in the individual pursuit in Beijing. She won Gold and became only the second woman ever to win a medal in two different sports after Roswitha Krause of East Germany (Handball and Swimming).

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Medallists in Separate Sports at the Summer & Winter Olympics

One of the most exclusive of Olympic achievements, only 5 athletes ever have won medals in different sports at both the Summer and Winter Games. The first was American Eddie Eagan who won Gold (light heavyweight) in the boxing at the 1920 Antwerp Games, before taking Gold at the 1932 Lake Placid Winter Olympics in the four-man Bobsleigh. To this day he remains the only person to win Gold at both the Summer and Winter Olympics.

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4 years later, Norwegian Jacob Tullin Thams won Silver at the 1936 Berlin Games in the Sailing (8-metre), adding to his Ski Jumping (individual large hill) Gold in the 1924 Chamonix Games.

The only athlete to ever win medals at the Winter and Summer Games in the same year is Germany’s Christa Luding-Rothenburger following Silver in the Cycling sprint at Seoul and Gold in the 1000m Speed Skating at Calgary in 1988. She also won Silver in the 500m Speed Skating. Luding-Rothenburger has the added bonus of knowing her achievement will never be repeated due to the staggering of the Winter and Summer Olympic years.

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Canadian Clara Hughes became the first person to win multiple medals in both Summer and Winter Games following her Gold and Silver in the Speed Skating (5000m and team pursuit) at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics. A decade earlier she won Bronze in both the Cycling road race and time trial in Atlanta.

Most recently, American athlete Lauryn Williams won silver medals at the 2004 Summer Olympics before winning a silver medal in the two-woman bobsleigh at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

So while it’s not impossible, it’s probably fair to say that White’s dreams are therefore seriously improbable. There’s not too many athletes quite like Shaun White, though…

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