24. Daley Thompson, Track and Field.
Decathlete Daley Thompson is widely considered the greatest Olympic athlete the United Kingdom has ever produced. And for good reason: Thompson won Olympic gold in the decathlon in back-to-back Olympiads (Moscow in 1980, and L.A. in ’84).
Thompson won gold fairly easily in 1980, right around the time he started setting world records galore. Though he didn’t have to go against any American competitors in the 1980 Summer Games (as the U.S.) boycotted the event), Thompson more than made up for it on American soil in 1984.
By winning the decathlon in back-to-back Summer Olympics, Thompson became only the second decathlete to win consecutive golds in that event, joining American Bob Mathias. Indeed, Thompson was in his prime throughout the 1980s, and rarely lost decathlons on any circuit.
He retired prematurely from decathlons in 1992, as a persistent hamstring injury never seemed to go away. Thompson has since been a major public figure in Great Britain and has opened a gym called Daley Fitness.
Next: 23. Boris Shakhlin.