It’s true that some people are born naturally talented. Few are lucky enough to recognize their talent and their gift to mold a career out of it, create a life around it. The following 10 athletes are among the lucky few. They’ve created some of the most impressive and memorable records in sporting history. This post is about the Youngest Sports Champions, who went on conquering their respective fields at a young age.
Most of the sportsmen here have flourished in their particular sports, but a few have dwindled due to some unfortunate event or the other. None-the-less, they are all, incredibly inspiring.
Top 10 Youngest Sports Champions In History
10. Ian Thorpe (Australia)
Thorpe was named as the most successful athlete at the 2000 Summer Olympics. When Thrope was 14 he represented Australia – youngest male ever to do that – and won the 400-meter freestyle at the Perth World Championships in 1998. In 1997 Thrope along with teammates won silver at the Pan Pacific Championships becoming the youngest ever Pan Pacific medallist.
Thrope is also the youngest male swimmer who’s been named the Swimming World Swimmer of the Year. Besides, he now holds his place among the top 10 youngest sports champions in history.
9. Ronnie O’Sullivan (England)
Famously called ‘The Rocket’ O’Sullivan an English professional snooker player is regarded by many as the greatest naturally gifted snooker player ever. He showed promise at the age of 10 when he made his first century break. Then, at 15 years of age, he made his first maximum break. A year later he began playing professionally and earned the above nickname owing to his rapid playing style.
At 17 he won the 1993 UK Championship and made a record – still sustains it – for being the youngest player ever to win a professional ranking tournament. At 19 he won the Masters in 1995. Besides, he now also holds the ninth place in our list of top 10 youngest sports champions in history.
8. Mike Tyson (United States)
Michael Gerard Mike Tyson is the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. Nicknamed ‘The Baddest Man on the Planet’, ‘Iron Mike’ and others, Tyson began his promising career on March 6, 1985, at 18 years of age. He fought frequently and won 26 out of the first 28 matches of his career. On November 22, 1986, Iron Mike’s fight was telecasted.
In that fight, within the second round, Tyson won the World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight championship. He was 20 years and 4 months old then. Fans still dubbed him as one of the greatest boxers of all time.
7. Marjorie Gestring (United States)
Gestring is the youngest champion to ever win an Olympic gold medal. She participated in the 3-meter springboard diving at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany. She was only 13 years old. Following her Olympic victory, Gestring won the regional Far Western and Arizona State swimming championship and the US national title for the three-meter springboard, two times in a row.
Her bright career was interrupted by World War II and sadly the champion failed to resurrect her career again. She now holds her place among the top 10 youngest sports champions in history.
6. Fernando Alonso (Spain)
Alonso first went kart racing when he was only 3 years old and in 1996, he ended up becoming the world karting champion. In 2001 he joined F1 aged just 19. After moving to Renault in 2003, he came first at the Hungarian Grand Prix becoming the youngest F1 winner and retaining the record until Sebastian Vettel broke it in the 2008 Italian Grand Prix.
Two years after Hungarian Grand Prix, Alonso won the Formula One World Drivers’ Championship title becoming the youngest champion at the age of 24. Currently, Fernando Alonso also dubbed amongst the greatest F1 drivers.
5. Shaun Edwards (England)
Edwards captained the English team at Rugby league and Rugby union when he was still a schoolboy. On his 17th birthday, he signed up for Wigan for a fee of £35,000. This event was covered by the media with much clamour. Twenty days after signing with Wigan he made his debut in a match against York in 1983. In the 1984 Challenge Cup Edwards became the youngest player to ever participate in the tournament.
He was 17 years old. Four years later Edwards leaded Wigan to victory against Halifax as the team captain. At 22 he was the young captain. He now holds his place among the top 10 youngest sports champions in history.
4. Boris Becker (Germany)
Becker was a relatively unknown German tennis player when he won the Queen’s Club title at the age of 17 in 1985. Two weeks later, he creates a collective shock by winning the Wimbledon singles title becoming the first unseeded and the first German tennis player to win the Wimbledon in 100 years history of the tournament.
Becker went on to win a great many more titles and recognition and held the world No. 1 position in professional tennis at one point. Besides his own career, he also coached Novak Djokovic, one of the greatest tennis players.
3. Jahangir Khan (Pakistan)
The greatest professional squash player ever, Khan was initiated into the game by his father who was also a champion squash player. Due to his ill health, selectors dropped him off of the world championships. Jahangir Khan decided to participate in the World Amateur Individual Championship and won becoming the youngest champion at 15.
Two years later he became the youngest World Open Champion ever. Then between 1981 and 1986, he went on to win 555 consecutive matches – recording one of the longest winning streaks in the history of sports. Khan holds a Guinness World Record for that.
2. Martina Hingis (Switzerland)
Hingis named after Martina Navratilova – one of the greatest female tennis players, has a series of ‘youngest-ever’ records on her. Beginning at the age of two, Hingis entered her first tournament when she was four years old. In 1993, she won the Grand Slam junior title at 12 years of age. She won the girls’ singles title at Wimbledon and advanced to the US Open in 1994. In 1996, Hingis teamed with Helena Suková at Wimbledon and won the women’s doubles title becoming the youngest Grand Slam champion of all time.
She was only 15-years-old. Two years later Hingis had won all four of the Grand Slam women’s doubles titles becoming an undisputed world No 1 in both singles and doubles simultaneously. She now holds the second place in our list of the top 10 youngest sports champions in history.
1. Pelé (Brazil)
Edson Arantes do Nascimento otherwise known as Pelé began playing at the age of 15 for Santos where he became the top scorer of the 1957 season league. A year later he was selected to play for the Brazil national football team. In the 1958 World Cup, Pelé was suffering from a knee injury when all eyes were on him.
On the verge of being sidelined, his teammates insisted that he be selected. What happened next was that Pelé scored his first World Cup goal (the only goal of the match) in quarter-finals against Wales. At the age of 17 years, Pelé became the youngest player to play in a World Cup final match. Besides, he also then became the greatest football player of all time.
We hope you liked this list of the top 10 youngest sports champions in history. Share your thoughts in the comments below.