The 21 Countries With One Olympic Medal

Adam Nurkiewicz / Getty Images for IAAF
Adam Nurkiewicz / Getty Images for IAAF

Earlier today, we quizzed you on the countries that have won more than 100 Olympic medals. Now it's time for the other side of the equation. Twenty-one countries have won just one medal. Here are the stories of the national heroes who brought those medals home.

Afghanistan

Despite making appearances at 12 Olympic Games since 1936, Afghanistan has secured just one medal -- a bronze in Taekwondo at the 2008 Games. Rohullah Nikpai, who won the medal, was given a house by president Hamid Karzai and told reporters that he hoped the medal would "send a message of peace to my country after 30 years of war." The country has had a checkered Olympics history -- in 1996, one of their two athletes was disqualified for arriving late to a weigh-in and the other, a marathon runner, finished last after injuring his hamstring before the race. And in 1999, the country was ruled ineligible for competition because of discrimination against women.

Barbados

By finishing third in the men's 100 meters at the 2000 Summer Games, Obadele Thompson won the sole medal for Barbados. The country technically had won a second medal -- a bronze in the 4x400 relay team in 1960 -- but Barbadian runner James Wedderburn was actually competing under the West Indies Federation flag. Barbados is hoping that hurdler Ryan Brathwaite, who won the 2009 world championships, can bring the country another medal this summer. And Thompson seems to be doing well for himself -- he married American track star Marion Jones in 2006.

Bermuda

Clarence Hill holds Bermuda's sole medal for taking home the bronze in heavyweight boxing at the 1976 Games in Montreal. The country is also the smallest by population to have won an Olympic medal.

Burundi

In the country's first ever Olympics appearance at the 1996 Atlanta Games, distance runner Venuste Niyongabo won the country's first and only medal by finishing with the gold in the men's 5,000 meters. Niyongabo was actually competing in that event for just the third time ever and was supposed to go to the Olympics for the 1,500 meter race. He ended up forfeiting his spot in the shorter race to allow fellow Burundian runner Dieudonne Kwizera to compete.

Djibouti

Hussein Ahmed Salah took home the bronze for the men's marathon in the 1988 Seoul Games. He remains Djibouti's only Olympic medalist.

Eritrea

The African nation only made its Olympics debut in 2000, but had to wait until 2004 to get its first medal when Zersenay Tadese took the bronze in the men's 10,000 meters. Tadese will compete again this year, so it's possible Eritrea will double its medal count. This year's delegation also includes the country's first athlete outside of track and field: a cyclist named Daniel Teklehaymanot.

Guyana

Boxer Michael Anthony’s bronze at the 1980 Games remains Guyana’s only medal in 15 total appearances. This summer the country is sending six athletes, including star runner Aliann Pompey.

Iraq

After Iraq's Olympics debut in 1948, they sat out the next two games, including a boycott of the 1956 Games over Operation Musketeer. But Iraq roared back in 1960 when Iraqi weightlifter Abdul Wahid Aziz took home a bronze medal. Since then, Iraq has made scattered appearances in the Olympics but has yet to win another medal.

Ivory Coast

The country's lone medal was a silver won by Gabriel Tiacoh in the men's 400 meters at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

Kuwait

Technically, Kuwait's first medal came in 1992, but the bronze was for taekwondo, which at that time was just a demonstration sport. But eight years later, shooter Fehaid Al Deehani took a bronze in double trap shooting. Kuwait almost didn't have a chance to add to their medal count this year, thanks to a 2010 IOC ruling that the country's athletes would have to compete under the Olympic flag -- not the Kuwaiti one -- because of political interference. The suspension ended earlier this month after the government pledged to stay out of the Olympic committee.

Republic of Macedonia

The nation that competes as the Republic of Macedonia has won just one medal -- Magomed Ibragimov's bronze in wrestling in 2000. But until 1988, athletes from Macedonia competed for Yugoslavia, taking in 12 medals, including two golds.

Mauritius

When Bruno Julie took a bronze medal in Bantamweight boxing in 2008, Mauritius ended a 24-year medal drought. Nicknamed the "Mauritian Magician” or the “Creol Crusher,” Julie was approached by other countries in the hopes that he would switch nationalities, but he has stayed loyal to Mauritius.

Netherlands Antilles

To date, the only medal from the Caribbean island nation was a silver in sailing won by Jan Boersma at the 1988 Olympics. But the country actually had a second silver for about an hour in 2008, when Churandy Martina placed second (behind Usain Bolt) in the Men's 200-meter. After the race, the third-place finisher, American Wallace Spearmon, was disqualified for stepping outside his lane. The U.S. coaches reviewed tape of the race and discovered that Martina had also moved out of his lane and said they would drop an appeal of Spearmon's disqualification if organizers stripped Martina's finish as well. The Netherlands Antilles team was furious -- sports minister Omayra Leeflang said at the time the move was "against the spirit of the Olympic" and many citizens viewed it as bullying by the U.S. Now that the Netherlands Antilles has been dissolved, athletes from those countries will compete as independent athletes.

Niger

Light welterweight boxer Isaaka Daborg won Niger's only medal with a bronze in 1972. Now the country is hoping to take home another boxing medal -- their sole competitor this summer, Moustapha Hima, is competing as a welterweight.

Paraguay

Although the country’s only medal came in 2004, when the men’s soccer team won the silver, Paraguay still made quite an impact on the 2008 Games. Paraguayan javelin thrower Leryn Franco was instantly noticed for her beauty (she was a former swimsuit model, after all) and became one of the most-searched athletes on the internet despite placing 51st in her event. Franco will be back this year.

Senegal

Since the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Senegal has attended every Summer Games and even four Winter Olympics. But the only medal came in 1988, when Amadou Dia Ba won a silver in the men's 400 meter hurdles.

Sudan

After 48 years of attending games, Sudan finally broke through in 2008, when Ismail Ahmed Ismail took the silver medal in the men’s 800 meter race. The medal, which came amid decades of conflict in the country, was widely hailed for shedding a positive light on the country. South Sudan, which seceded from Sudan last year, is not sending a delegation to the London Games.

Togo

When Benjamin Boukpeti nabbed a bronze medal in 2008 for the K1 slalom kayak event, he made a surprising promise: he said he'd actually go visit Togo. Despite being the country's only medalist, Boukpeti had actually only been to Togo once. He has dual citizenship in France (his mother is French), but decided to compete for Togo in 2008 when it became clear he might not make the French team.

Tonga

Tonga won its first – and so far only – medal at the 1996 Atlanta games when Paea Wolfgramm placed second in super heavyweight boxing. The country tried to compete in its first Winter Olympics in 2010, but luger Fuahea Semi failed to qualify. Semi later became the center of a scandal when he changed his name to Bruno Banani in a marketing deal with a German underwear company of the same name.

United Arab Emirates

After competing in seven Olympics, the UAE finally won its first medal in 2004 with a gold in men’s double trap, a shooting competition. The medalist, Ahmed Al-Maktoum, is also a member of the Dubai ruling party and had previously won several domestic squash competitions.

Virgin Islands

Over 10 Summer Games and six Winter Olympics, the Virgin Islands have amassed one single medal: a silver in men’s finn class sailing at the 1988 Seoul Games won by Peter Holmberg. Holmberg would also go on to win the America’s Cup in 2007 and now consults on sailing events.

10 Rad Gifts for Hikers

Greg Rosenke/Unsplash
Greg Rosenke/Unsplash

The popularity of bird-watching, camping, and hiking has skyrocketed this year. Whether your gift recipients are weekend warriors or seasoned dirtbags, they'll appreciate these tools and gear for getting most out of their hiking experience.

1. Stanley Nesting Two-Cup Cookset; $14

Amazon

Stanley’s compact and lightweight cookset includes a 20-ounce stainless steel pot with a locking handle, a vented lid, and two insulated 10-ounce tumblers. It’s the perfect size for brewing hot coffee, rehydrating soup, or boiling water while out on the trail with a buddy. And as some hardcore backpackers note in their Amazon reviews, your favorite hiker can take the tumblers out and stuff the pot with a camp stove, matches, and other necessities to make good use of space in their pack.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Osprey Sirrus and Stratos 24-Liter Hiking Packs; $140

Amazon

Osprey’s packs are designed with trail-tested details to maximize comfort and ease of use. The Sirrus pack (pictured) is sized for women, while the Stratos fits men’s proportions. Both include an internal sleeve for a hydration reservoir, exterior mesh and hipbelt pockets, an attachment for carrying trekking poles, and a built-in rain cover.

Buy them: Amazon, Amazon

3. Yeti Rambler 18-Ounce Bottle; $48

Amazon

Nothing beats ice-cold water after a summer hike or a sip of hot tea during a winter walk. The Yeti Rambler can serve up both: Beverages can stay hot or cold for hours thanks to its insulated construction, and its steel body (in a variety of colors) is basically indestructible. It will add weight to your hiker's pack, though—for a lighter-weight, non-insulated option, the tried-and-true Camelbak Chute water bottle is incredibly sturdy and leakproof.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Mappinners Greatest 100 Hikes of the National Parks Scratch-Off Poster; $30

Amazon

The perfect gift for park baggers in your life (or yourself), this 16-inch-by-20-inch poster features epic hikes like Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Once the hike is complete, you can scratch off the gold foil to reveal an illustration of the park.

Buy it: Amazon

5. National Geographic Adventure Edition Road Atlas; $19

Amazon

Hikers can use this brand-new, updated road atlas to plan their next adventure. In addition to comprehensive maps of all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico, they'll get National Geographic’s top 100 outdoor destinations, useful details about the most popular national parks, and points on the maps noting off-the-beaten-path places to explore.  

Buy it: Amazon

6. Adventure Medical Kits Hiker First-Aid Kit; $25

Amazon

This handy 67-piece kit is stuffed with all the things you hope your hiker will never need in the wilderness. Not only does it contain supplies for pain, cuts and scrapes, burns, and blisters (every hiker’s nemesis!), the items are organized clearly in the bag to make it easy to find tweezers or an alcohol wipe in an emergency.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Hiker Hunger Ultralight Trekking Poles; $70

Amazon

Trekking poles will help increase your hiker's balance and stability and reduce strain on their lower body by distributing it to their arms and shoulders. This pair is made of carbon fiber, a super-strong and lightweight material. From the sweat-absorbing cork handles to the selection of pole tips for different terrain, these poles answer every need on the trail. 

Buy it: Amazon

8. Leatherman Signal Camping Multitool; $120

Amazon

What can’t this multitool do? This gadget contains 19 hiking-friendly tools in a 4.5-inch package, including pliers, screwdrivers, bottle opener, saw, knife, hammer, wire cutter, and even an emergency whistle.

Buy it: Amazon

9. RAVPower Power Bank; $24

Amazon

Don’t let your hiker get caught off the grid with a dead phone. They can charge RAVPower’s compact power bank before they head out on the trail, and then use it to quickly juice up a phone or tablet when the batteries get low. Its 3-inch-by-5-inch profile won’t take up much room in a pack or purse.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Pack of Four Indestructible Field Books; $14

Amazon

Neither rain, nor snow, nor hail will be a match for these waterproof, tearproof 3.5-inch-by-5.5-inch notebooks. Your hiker can stick one in their pocket along with a regular pen or pencil to record details of their hike or brainstorm their next viral Tweet.

Buy it: Amazon

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10 Fast Facts About Wilma Rudolph

Wilma Rudolph breaks the tape as she wins the Olympic 4 x 100 relay in 1960.
Wilma Rudolph breaks the tape as she wins the Olympic 4 x 100 relay in 1960.
Robert Riger/Getty Images

Wilma Rudolph made history as a Black female athlete at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Italy. The 20-year-old Tennessee State University sprinter was the first American woman to win three gold medals at one Olympics. Rudolph’s heroics in the 100-meter, 200-meter, and 4 x 100-meter events only lasted seconds, but her legend persists decades later, despite her untimely 1994 death from cancer at age 54. Here are some facts about this U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame member.

1. Wilma Rudolph faced poverty and polio as a child.

When Rudolph was born prematurely on June 23, 1940, in Clarksville, Tennessee, she weighed just 4.5 pounds. Olympic dreams seemed impossible for Rudolph, whose impoverished family included 21 other siblings. Among other maladies, she had measles, mumps, and pneumonia by age 4. Most devastatingly, polio twisted her left leg, and she wore leg braces until she was 9.

2. Wilma Rudolph originally wanted to play basketball.

The Tennessee Tigerbelles. From left to right: Martha Hudson, Lucinda Williams, Wilma Rudolph, and Barbara Jones.Central Press/Getty Images

At Clarksville’s Burt High School, Rudolph flourished on the basketball court. Nearly 6 feet tall, she studied the game, and ran track to keep in shape. However, while competing in the state basketball championship in Nashville, the 14-year-old speedster met a referee named Ed Temple, who doubled as the acclaimed coach of the Tennessee State Tigerbelles track team. Temple, who would coach at the 1960 and 1964 Olympics, recruited Rudolph.

3. Wilma Rudolph made her Olympic debut as a teenager.

Rudolph hit the limelight at 16, earning a bronze medal in the 4 x 100-meter relay at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. But that didn’t compare to the media hype when she won three gold medals in 1960. French journalists called her “The Black Pearl,” the Italian press hailed “The Black Gazelle,” and in America, Rudolph was “The Tornado.”

4. After her gold medals, Wilma Rudolph insisted on a racially integrated homecoming.

Tennessee governor Buford Ellington, who supported racial segregation, intended to oversee the Clarksville celebrations when Rudolph returned from Rome. However, she refused to attend her parade or victory banquet unless both were open to Black and white people. Rudolph got her wish, resulting in the first integrated events in the city’s history.

5. Muhammad Ali had a crush on Wilma Rudolph.

Ali—known as Cassius Clay when he won the 1960 Olympic light heavyweight boxing title—befriended Rudolph in Rome. That fall, the 18-year-old boxer invited Rudolph to his native Louisville, Kentucky. He drove her around in a pink Cadillac convertible.

6. John F. Kennedy literally fell over when he invited Wilma Rudolph to the White House.

President Kennedy, Wilma Rudolph, Rudolph’s mother Blanche Rudolph, and Vice President Johnson in the Oval Office.Abbie Rowe/White House Photographs/John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum // Public Domain

In 1961, Rudolph met JFK in the Oval Office. After getting some photos taken together, the President attempted to sit down in his rocking chair and tumbled to the floor. Kennedy quipped: “It’s not every day that I get to meet an Olympic champion.” They chatted for about 30 minutes.

7. Wilma Rudolph held three world records when she retired.

Rudolph chose to go out on top and retired in 1962 at just 22 years old. Her 100-meter (11.2 seconds), 200-meter (22.9 seconds), and 4 x 100-meter relay (44.3 seconds) world records all lasted several years.

8. Wilma Rudolph visited West African countries as a goodwill ambassador.

The U.S. State Department sent Rudolph to the 1963 Friendship Games in Dakar, Senegal. According to Penn State professor Amira Rose Davis, while there, Rudolph independently met with future Ghanaian president Kwame Nkrumah’s Young Pioneers, a nationalist youth movement. She visited Mali, Guinea, and the Republic of Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) as well.

9. Denzel Washington made his TV debut in a movie about Wilma Rudolph.

Before his Oscar-winning performances in Glory (1989) and Training Day (2001), a 22-year-old Denzel Washington portrayed Robert Eldridge, Rudolph’s second husband, in Wilma (1977). The film also starred Cicely Tyson as Rudolph’s mother Blanche.

10. Schools, stamps, and statues commemorate Wilma Rudolph’s legacy.

Berlin, Germany, has a high school named after Rudolph. The U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp celebrating her in 2004. Clarksville features a bronze statue by the Cumberland River, the 1000-capacity Wilma Rudolph Event Center, and Wilma Rudolph Boulevard. In Tennessee, June 23 is Wilma Rudolph Day.