Olympic Baby Names: Gold medal winners of the past

Nameberry’s Olympic baby names coverage continues, this time with a look back to Games of the past.  We perused the records going back to 1896, in search of the most unusual and interesting of past Gold Medalists’ names.

With such a wide-ranging international roster, we were able to mine some pretty exotic (in our culture, anyway) nuggets. Girls

Annegret Richter—West Germany, track and field, 1972

Antonella Bellutti—Italy, racing cyclist, 1996

Beezie Madden (born Elizabeth)–US, equestrian show jumping team, 2008

Clover Maitland– Australia, field hockey, 1996 and 2000

Ellina Zvereva– Belarus, discus throwing, 2000

Faustine Merret—France, windsurfing, 2004

Fernanda Ribeiro—Portugal, 10,000 meter race (established a new record), 1996

Fleur Mellor—Australia, track and field, 1956

Janica Kostelic–Croatia, Alpine skiing, 2002

Jearl Miles–US, track and field, 1996 and 2000

Liliya Nuritdinova–Unified Team, track and field, 1992

Margitta Gummel—East Germany, shot put, 1968

Maritza Martén —Cuba, discus throwing, 1992

Mildrette Netter–US, track and field, 1968

Oksana Baiul—Ukraine, figure skating, 1994 (at age 16)

Ondina VallaItaly, track and field, 1936

Petra Felke–East Germany, javelin throw, 1988

Picabo Street–US, ski racing, 1998

Rhi (Rhiannon) Jeffrey—US, swimming, 2004

Sanya Richards–US, track and field, 2004 and 2008

Savatheda Fynos—Bahamas, track and field, 2000

Séverine Vandenhende—France, judo, 2000

Sonja Henie–ice  skating, Norway, 1928, 1932, 1936—became a movie star

Susi Susanti (born Lucia)—Indonesia, badminton, 1992

Tenley Albright—US, figure skating, 1956

Torah Bright—Australia, snowboarding, 2010

Viorica Viscopoleanu– Roumania, long jump, 1968

Wyomia TyusUS—track and field, 1968

Xenia Stad-de-Jong—Netherlands, track and field, 1948


Apolo Anton Ohno—US, speed skating, 2002 and 2006

Bevil Rudd—South Africa, track and field, 1920

Bode Miller (born Samuel Bode)—US, ski racing, 2010

Bruny Sorin—Canada, track and field, 1996 Cael Sanderson—US, wrestling, 2004

Commodore Cochran—US, track and field, 1924

Daley Johnson—(born Francis), UK, decathlon, 1980, 1984

Danyon Loader—New Zealand, swimming, 1996

Delfo Cabrera—Argentina, marathon racer, 1948

Duke Kahanamoku–Hawaii, swimming, 1912, 1920 (he was  named not for Hawaiian royalty, but after his father who had been christened “Duke” following the visit of the Duke of Edinburgh to Hawaii in 1869).

Eero Lehtonen—Finland, pentathlon, 1920 and 1924

Foy Draper—US, track and field, 1936

Gaston Reiff—Belgium, track and field, 1948

Gillis Grafström—Sweden, figure skating, 1920, 1924, 1928

Guinn Smith (born Owen Guinn)—US, pole vault, 1948

Harri Larva (born Harry)—Finland, track and field, 1928

Ilia Kulik–Russia figure skating, 1998

Ilmari Salminen—Finland, track and field, 1936

Ingo Weissenborn—Germany, fencing, 1992

Ivano Brugnetti—Italy, race walking, 2004

Jaak Uudmae—Estonia, long jump, 1980

Jacobus “JimThorpe–US–decathlon, 1912

Jasey-Jay AndersonCanada, snowboarding, 2010

Josy Barthel (born Joseph)—Luxembourg, track and field, 1952

Kiko Sanchez (born Francis)—Spain, sailing, 1992

Livio Berruti—Italy, track and field, 1960

Lones Wigger–US, shooting, 1965

Maurizio Damiliano—Italy, race walking, 1980

Mikio Oda—Japan, triple jump, 1928

Million Wolde—Ethiopia, track and field, 2000

Ollan Cassell—US, track and field, 1964

Paavo Nuirmi—Finland, track and field, 1920, 1924, 1928

Parry O’Brien—US, shot put, 1952, 1956

Rafer Johnson—US, decathlon, 1960

Sabin Carr—US, pole vault, 1927

Spyridon Louis—Greek, marathon, 1896 (first modern day Olympic marathon)

Tamio Kono–US, weight lifting, 1952, 1956

Thane Baker (born Walter Thane)–US, track and field, 1956

Usain Bolt–Jamaica, track and field, 2008

Xeno Müller—Swiss, rowing, 1996    

Any names here that were unfamiliar to you but that you might consider?  Any others that you’d like to add to the list?–remember Gold Medalists only.

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12 Responses to “Olympic Baby Names: Gold medal winners of the past”

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SwirlyO Says:

July 30th, 2012 at 11:28 pm

Loving Jacobus, Sonja and Ellina

bex.marie Says:

July 31st, 2012 at 1:26 am

One of my best friends is named Liliya, of course everyone calls her Lily though, but I like saying her given name.

Lots of good ones on the list!

Mara_lyn86 Says:

July 31st, 2012 at 1:38 am

I would consider Annegret,Liliya, Petra and Sonja for a girl. Liliya is very lovely, which is surprising because I usually don’t like names that look like the y was added. I love Sonya and Annegret.

I have never encountered a Mildrette before. That is an interesting name. I don’t know what I think about it. Commodore is definitely a strange name, but he is probably the type of person that can pull that name off well.

aunt_ning Says:

July 31st, 2012 at 6:55 am

I love the sound of Maritzam just sounds beautiful. Torah is Interesting but isnt it the same thing as naming a child Bible?

aunt_ning Says:

July 31st, 2012 at 6:55 am

That should say Martiza..dont know where that M came from lol

Danni Says:

July 31st, 2012 at 7:58 am

Ellina, Fleur, Petra, and Sonya are ones that I would consider using for a daughter, although I find Oksana and Clover equally appealing.

My faves from the boys list are: Apolo, Daley, Harry, and Parry. Livio and Ingo are intriguing.

Also, Jasey-Jay and Mildrette… really?

Danni Says:

July 31st, 2012 at 7:59 am

@bex.marie: Liliya is so beautiful!

moxielove Says:

July 31st, 2012 at 7:31 pm

I love Annegret and Margitta for middle names. I love Savatheda but wouldn’t use it myself.

And Finnish names are inherently cool with all their double vowels – would love to find one that translated well into english without losing its panache. How is Eero pronounced? Like arrow or ear-ro?

moxielove Says:

July 31st, 2012 at 7:33 pm

And of course I love Petra (my daughter’s name). Sadly we were **this** close to naking our puppy Clover, so that name has gone to the dogs…and no longer usable by me for little human but love it on other girls or even boys.

abeezee Says:

August 1st, 2012 at 10:02 am

And now we can add the names of U.S. gymnasts Kyla, McKayla, and Jordyn to the list. So interesting to see this generation of trendy/nouveau/invented names coming of age. Wondering what people in other countries think of these names? Wondering if these names will have any staying power because of these beautiful young athletes?

R_J Says:

August 2nd, 2012 at 9:52 am

Wow, I never would have pegged Tenley as a name from 1956!
I also think Severine has such a nice sound. But too close to “sever” for the U.S.

EssJay Says:

August 3rd, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Daley’s surname is Thompson, not Johnson.

Beezie though is an interesting nickname for Elizabeth, never heard it before but quite like it.

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