The Most Famous

ATHLETES from Norway

Icon of occuation in country

This page contains a list of the greatest Norwegian Athletes. The pantheon dataset contains 3,055 Athletes, 59 of which were born in Norway. This makes Norway the birth place of the 12th most number of Athletes behind Sweden and Poland.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Norwegian Athletes of all time. This list of famous Norwegian Athletes is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Norwegian Athletes.

Photo of Ole Einar Bjørndalen

1. Ole Einar Bjørndalen (1974 - )

With an HPI of 64.83, Ole Einar Bjørndalen is the most famous Norwegian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 51 different languages on wikipedia.

Ole Einar Bjørndalen (born 27 January 1974) is a retired Norwegian professional biathlete and coach, often referred to by the nickname, the "King of Biathlon". With 13 Winter Olympic Games medals, he is second on the list of multiple medalists behind Marit Bjørgen who has won 15 medals. He is also the most successful biathlete of all time at the Biathlon World Championships, having won 45 medals, more than double that of any other biathlete except Martin Fourcade. With 95 World Cup wins, Bjørndalen is ranked first all-time for career victories on the Biathlon World Cup tour, more than twice that of anyone else but Fourcade. He has won the Overall World Cup title six times, in 1997–98, in 2002–03, in 2004–05, in 2005–06, in 2007–08 and in 2008–09. In 1992, he won his first career medal at the junior world championships. A year later in 1993, after winning three junior world championship titles, a medal haul only previously achieved by Sergei Tchepikov, Bjørndalen made his Biathlon World Cup debut. His breakthrough came in 1994 when he featured on his first World Cup podium in a sprint race held in Bad Gastein, Austria. Bjørndalen first competed in the Olympic Games at the Lillehammer 1994 Winter Olympics, held in his home country of Norway. He obtained his first major victory on 11 January 1996 in an individual competition held in Antholz-Anterselva, Italy. On 20 February 2014, Bjørndalen was elected to an eight-year term at the International Olympic Committee's athlete commission. He resigned from this role in 2016 as he elected to continue his career.

Photo of Egil Danielsen

2. Egil Danielsen (1933 - 2019)

With an HPI of 64.23, Egil Danielsen is the 2nd most famous Norwegian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 23 different languages.

Egil Danielsen (9 November 1933 – 29 July 2019) was a Norwegian javelin thrower. He competed at the 1956 and 1960 Olympics and won the gold medal in 1956. Danielsen, who used an old-type wooden javelin, did poorly in the 1956 final, which was led by his Polish friend Janusz Sidło. Trying to help Danielsen, Sidło lent him his modern steel javelin, and Michel Macquet gave him a cup of strong coffee. Danielsen set a new world record at 85.71 m and won the gold medal. He could never reproduce that throw. For his Olympic victory and world record Danielsen was selected Norwegian Sportsperson of the Year in 1956.Danielsen finished tenth at the 1954 European Championships and won a silver medal in 1958, behind Sidło. He became Norwegian champion in 1953–1957.Danielsen was an avid cross-country skier before changing to javelin throw. He took fencing lessons from a top Norwegian fencer to improve his flexibility, reflexes and the use of right arm. He retired after the 1960 Olympics and focused on his family and work at the Hamar Fire Brigade. In the 2000s he was a minor political candidate for the Norwegian Pensioner Party.

Photo of Johan Grøttumsbråten

3. Johan Grøttumsbråten (1899 - 1983)

With an HPI of 62.55, Johan Grøttumsbråten is the 3rd most famous Norwegian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 20 different languages.

Johan Hagbart Pedersen Grøttumsbraaten (24 February 1899 – 24 January 1983) was a Norwegian skier who competed in Nordic combined and cross-country. Dominating both events in the 1920s and early 1930s, he won several medals in the early Winter Olympics. Most notably, he won two gold medals at the 1928 Winter Olympics, and as one of the only two entrants to win two gold medalists from St. Moritz, was the most successful athlete there, along with Clas Thunberg of Finland. He previously won three medals (one silver, two bronzes) at the inaugural Winter Olympics held in Chamonix in 1924, and went on to defend his Olympic title in Nordic Combined Skiing at the 1932 Winter Olympics.In addition, he won three gold medals at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships: In 1931 he won both the cross-country 18 km and Nordic combined, after winning the Nordic combined event earlier in 1926. Grøttumsbråten is one of only four people to ever win the Holmenkollen ski festival's Nordic combined event five times (1923, 1926, 1928, 1929 and 1931). In 1924, he shared the Holmenkollen medal with fellow Norwegian Nordic combined athlete Harald Økern.

Photo of Grete Waitz

4. Grete Waitz (1953 - 2011)

With an HPI of 61.63, Grete Waitz is the 4th most famous Norwegian Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 29 different languages.

Grete Waitz (née Andersen, 1 October 1953 – 19 April 2011) was a Norwegian marathon runner and former world record holder. In 1979, she became the first woman in history to run the marathon in under two and a half hours. She won nine New York City Marathons, women's division, between 1978 and 1988, more than any other runner in history. She won a silver medal at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and a gold medal at the 1983 World Championships in Helsinki. Her other marathon victories included winning the London Marathon in 1983 and 1986. She was also a five-time winner of the World Cross Country Championships. Waitz won 12 World Marathon Majors, the most for any runner.

Photo of Helge Løvland

5. Helge Løvland (1890 - 1984)

With an HPI of 61.16, Helge Løvland is the 5th most famous Norwegian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 22 different languages.

Helge Andreas Løvland (11 May 1890, Froland – 26 April 1984, Oslo) was a Norwegian track and field athlete. He won the gold medal in the decathlon at the 1920 Olympics. Løvland was awarded the Egebergs Ærespris in 1919. Representing the club IF Ørnulf, he died in Oslo in 1984.During the occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany he was arrested in August 1943 during the crackdown on military officers. He was imprisoned in Schildberg and Luckenwalde.

Photo of Magnar Solberg

6. Magnar Solberg (1937 - )

With an HPI of 60.89, Magnar Solberg is the 6th most famous Norwegian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 17 different languages.

Magnar Solberg (born 4 February 1937) is a former Norwegian biathlete and police officer. He won a gold medal in the 20 km at the 1968 and 1972 Winter Olympics; his 4 × 7.5 km relay teams placed second in 1968 and fourth in 1972. In 1968 he was awarded Morgenbladets Gullmedalje, and in 1972 served as the Olympic flag bearer for Norway at the opening ceremony. He was one of the 16 former Norwegian athletes selected to bring in the Olympic Flag at the Opening Ceremony of the 1994 Winter Olympics.After retiring from competitions Solberg became a police officer. He was one of the officers responsible for the miscarriage of justice against Fritz Moen, by adjusting a murder victims time of death in order to dismiss Moens alibi. He later admitted to wrongdoing, retired from the police force, and worked in the insurance industry.

Photo of Asbjørn Ruud

7. Asbjørn Ruud (1919 - 1989)

With an HPI of 59.19, Asbjørn Ruud is the 7th most famous Norwegian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 15 different languages.

Asbjørn Ruud (6 October 1919 – 26 March 1989) was a Norwegian ski jumper. Together with his brothers Birger and Sigmund he dominated international ski jumping in the 1930s. Ruud won a gold medal at the 1938 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships. Eight years later, he won the ski jumping competition at the Holmenkollen ski festival, the first held since the German occupation of Norway in 1940 during World War II. At the 1948 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Ruud finished seventh in the individual large hill competition. For his ski jumping effort, he earned the Holmenkollen medal in 1948, the second of the three Ruud brothers to do so.

Photo of Sverre Stenersen

8. Sverre Stenersen (1926 - 2005)

With an HPI of 59.11, Sverre Stenersen is the 8th most famous Norwegian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 16 different languages.

Sverre Stenersen (18 June 1926 – 17 December 2005) was a Norwegian Nordic combined skier who dominated the event throughout the 1950s. His biggest triumphs were winning individual gold medals at the 1954 World Championships and 1956 Olympics. He also won a bronze at the 1952 Olympics and a silver at the 1958 World Championships. Stenersen won the Nordic combined event at the national championships in 1954–58 and at the Holmenkollen ski festival in 1955, 1956 and 1959. In 1955 he received the Holmenkollen medal, shared with King Haakon VII, Hallgeir Brenden, and Veikko Hakulinen.Stenersen was born on a small farm in Målselv. In the late 1940s, seeking better training conditions, he moved to the Oslo area and worked there as a lumberjack to earn a living. He retired after placing seventh at the 1960 Winter Olympics and for several years ran a sport store in Målselv. After that he served as secretary for culture and sport in his municipality until retiring by age.

Photo of Ferdinand Bie

9. Ferdinand Bie (1888 - 1961)

With an HPI of 58.81, Ferdinand Bie is the 9th most famous Norwegian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 18 different languages.

Ferdinand Reinhardt Bie (16 February 1888 – 9 November 1961) was a Norwegian track and field athlete. At the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm he won the silver medal in pentathlon. On winner Jim Thorpe's subsequent disqualification for professionalism in 1913, Bie was declared Olympic champion, but refused to accept the gold medal from the IOC. In 1982 Thorpe was reinstated as champion by the IOC; however, Bie was still listed as co-champion. He also finished eleventh in the long jump, and competed in 110 metres hurdles and decathlon, but failed to finish. He became Norwegian champion in long jump in 1910 and 1917 and in 110 m hurdles in 1910.

Photo of Harald Grønningen

10. Harald Grønningen (1934 - 2016)

With an HPI of 58.39, Harald Grønningen is the 10th most famous Norwegian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 16 different languages.

Harald Grønningen (9 October 1934 – 26 August 2016) was a Norwegian cross-country skier who competed during the 1960s, earning five winter olympic and two world championship medals. He also won nine Norwegian championship titles and received the King's cup in 1963 and 1967. Grønningen won the 15 km twice (1960 and 1961) at the Holmenkollen ski festival and earned the Holmenkollen medal in 1961. Grønningen was born in Lensvik. He was also an able long distance runner. His personal best times were 15:03.2 minutes in the 5000 metres, achieved in September 1963 at Trondheim stadion, and 31:04.6 minutes in the 10,000 metres, achieved in September 1961 at the same stadium. He represented the club Lensvik IL.

Pantheon has 59 people classified as athletes born between 1866 and 2000. Of these 59, 44 (74.58%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living athletes include Ole Einar Bjørndalen, Magnar Solberg, and Ingrid Kristiansen. The most famous deceased athletes include Egil Danielsen, Johan Grøttumsbråten, and Grete Waitz. As of October 2020, 17 new athletes have been added to Pantheon including Asbjørn Ruud, Sverre Stenersen, and Harald Grønningen.

Living Athletes

Go to all Rankings

Deceased Athletes

Go to all Rankings

Newly Added Athletes (2020)

Go to all Rankings

Which Athletes were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 13 most globally memorable Athletes since 1700.