Although the earliest games were said to be first held in 776 B.C., the International Olympic Committee cites 1896 as the year the first Olympic Games of the modern era took place.
The first modern Games were in Athens, Greece in homage to the Olympics' Greek origins. However, the well-known award tradition of bronze, silver and gold medals did not begin until the 1904 St. Louis Olympics.
Originally, the Summer and Winter Olympics were held in the same year every four years. This tradition changed after the 1992 Barcelona Summer and Albertville Winter Olympic Games. The Lillehammer Winter Games were held in 1994, starting a rotation where the Summer and Winter Olympics are two years apart.
But who exactly is the most awarded Olympian?
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Who has the most Olympic medals?
The most decorated athlete in Olympic history is American swimmer Michael Phelps with 28 medals, 23 of them gold. Following Phelps is USSR gymnast Larisa Latynina with 18 medals, nine being gold.
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Who has the most medals in the Summer Olympics?
Phelps with 28 and Latynina with 18 are tops here as well, followed by Soviet gymnast Nikolai Andrianov with 15. Next is a tie among three men: Soviet gymnast Boris Shakhlin, Italian fencer Edoardo Mangiarotti and Japanese gymnast Takashi Ono at 13 medals each.
After Latynina in terms of women is a five-way tie at 12 medals among Birgit Fischer who competed for East Germany and then Germany in canoeing, Americans Jenny Thompson, Natalie Coughlin and Dara Torres in swimming, and Germany's Isabell Werth for equestrian.
Who has the most Olympic medals in the Winter Games?
According to Olympics.com, the most decorated Winter Olympian is Norway's Marit Bjørgen with 15 medals in cross-country skiing. She also is tied for third-most medals in overall Olympic history.
The most decorated man in Winter Olympic history is also the second-most awarded Winter Olympian, Norway's Ole Einar Bjørndalen with 13 medals in biathlon. Following Bjørndalen is Norway's Bjørn Dæhlie at 12 medals for cross-country skiing. The third-most decorated man in Winter Olympic history is a tie betweenSixten Jernberg of Sweden in cross-country skiing and Sven Kramer of The Netherlands in speed skating at nine medals.
Dutch speedskater Ireen Wüst is the second-most decorated female Winter Olympian with 11 medals. Third place is a tie between cross-country skiers Raisa Smetania of the USSR and Stefania Belmondo of Italy with 10 medals each.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Who has the most Olympic medals? These names have captured the most.