The combination of height and athletic prowess makes Olympians look superhuman. Even though height does not guarantee success in sporting events, there are some events in which height does play a vital role. Basketball, for example, is a game of height and athleticism. In this type of sport, the tallest olympian would have an inherent advantage over their competitors.
Every four years, the Olympics is celebrated by sports lovers worldwide. This celebration of sport encapsulates all athletes regardless of physical attributes.
Olympians are very diverse, and over the years, there have been remarkable displays of height. In this article, we’ll go over the tallest Olympians in the history of the Olympics, as well as which event they competed in and their results.
The Average Height for an Olympian
A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the average height for American men is about 5.9 inches. Now, with this in mind, you can better imagine the outrageous differences in the height of the tallest Olympians versus normal people.
The Current Tallest Olympian
Muhao Li is the tallest Olympian with a height of 7.2ft. He is a Chinese basketball player born June 2, 1992 and an active athlete playing for Beijing Shougang. His first taste of Olympic glory was Rio 2016 in Brazil, where his team finished 12th in the competition. Although the Olympics has had taller athletes in its history, Muhao Li is the current tallest.
Tallest Basketball Athletes
Basketball is a sport that involves five players working together against an opposing five to get points by putting a ball through a ring about 10ft in the air. It is a sport in which height is a huge factor. Most basketball players are a lot taller than the average person.
Most of the tallest Olympians are participants in this sport. The average height of a professional basketball player in the 2021-2022 season is 6.6ft. The NBA boasts several 7ft giants, far more than any other sports institution in the world.
Here are some of the tallest athletes in basketball:
Suleiman Ali Nashnush
Suleiman Ali Nashnush was a Libyan basketball player and actor who was one of the few individuals in medical history to surpass 8 feet in height. He had a condition that caused abnormal growth and later underwent corrective surgery in 1960.
Although he was one of the tallest basketball players ever at 8.05 feet, he played basketball for Libya when he was closer to 7’10”.
Sun Mingming is a Chinese basketball player thought by many to be the tallest person ever to play professional basketball. This is obviously not true because Libyan Suleiman Ali Nashnush holds the Guinness World Record for being taller.
This misconception is understandable as Sun Mingming is a whopping 7ft 9 inches tall and weighs 370 lb. He has a shoe size of 20. Like Suleiman, Sun Ming also makes occasional appearances as an actor.
Gheorghe Muresan, with a height of 7ft 7 inches, is one of the tallest players in NBA history. The NBA took an interest in him after he became an instant fan favorite while playing in the French league during the 1992-93 season.
He was drafted by the NBA’s Washington Bullets in 1993 and went on to have a promising career, ultimately derailed by injuries.
Tied with Gheorghe Murrsan at 7ft 7inches, Manute Bol was also one of the tallest men to ever play in the NBA. Alongside being a Sudanese-born basketballer, he was a political activist.
Tallest Volleyball Athletes
In this sport, teams achieve victory by teamwork, athleticism, and many other cultivated and innate abilities such as height. The dynamics of the game ensure that being tall will surely increase your chances of winning.
The average height for males and females is 6.43ft and 6.28ft, respectively. This is not alarming since the height of the standard volleyball net is 7.11ft, which means height is required to get the ball flying over the net.
Here are some of the tallest athletes in volleyball history:
Morteza Mehrzad appeared in Rio 2016 as a Paralympic and not surprisingly stole the spotlight among fellow Iranians at the games. He was towering over them all at 8’1’’. Mehrzad was not just the tallest at the Olympics, he is also one of the few individuals in the world to surpass the 8ft mark.
He has a condition called acromegaly that makes one of his legs 6 inches shorter than the other, which is why he plays volleyball while sitting. Being seated doesn’t hinder him because while sitting, from his waist to the tip of his vertically stretched hand, Mehrzad is more than 6ft.
Athlete Wuttichai Suksara is also one of the tallest players in volleyball at 7.35 ft. This athlete from Thailand is one of the youngest and is already above the 7 ft mark. He started competitive volleyball at 17 and has made a mark for himself in the volleyball Thailand league. He also participated in the Asian Games in South Korea and the Asian Pacific Cup, where he won bronze and gold medals respectively.
When it comes to popularity, Dmitrij is quite famous for being the tallest volleyball player globally. Even though at 7ft 2 inches, he is slightly shorter than Suksara, he is more well-known because he has participated in more famous competitions such as the World cups, World Championships, and European Championships.
Dmitrij currently plays for a Japanese club called Suntory Sunbirds, and he’s been known to sometimes complain that the Japanese ceilings are too short for him.
Tallest Swimming Athletes
Interestingly, swimming is also a tall person sport. Although swimmers with different body types have participated in the sport, people who make it to the international level happen to have similar physical features. They mostly have tall, muscular bodies with long arms, long torsos, and short legs.
Here are some of the tallest swimmers in the world:
Bengt and Bjorn Zigarsky
These German twins are the tallest swimmers to win Olympic gold medals. They were part of a 4×100 freestyle team alongside Christian Troger and Mark Pinger that won bronze in the 1996 Olympics. Bjorn was 6ft 10 inches while Bengt was slightly shorter at 6ft 9 inches.
Gustavo Borges and Matt Grevers
Brazilian Gustavo Borges is tied with American Matt Grevers as the tallest Olympic swimmers to win medals for individual events. They both register a staggering height of 6ft 8 inches.
Matt Grevers won six medals between 2008 and 2012 in his signature event: the 100m backstroke.
Gustav Borges won four medals between 1992 and 2004. In the 1992 Olympics, Borges, alongside two other medalists, formed the tallest podium in Olympic swimming history. Alexander Popov and Stephan Caron combined with Borges to make an average height of over 6’6’’.
Tallest Soccer Athletes
Even though it is not a game that depends on height like basketball, having a tall person on your team does not hurt in this sport. Height here is an enormous asset for goalkeepers, who are the only players on the pitch allowed to catch the ball with their hands. Defenders also benefit from being tall when defending against aerial threats.
Here are some of the tallest soccer players in history:
Kristof Van Hout
At 6 feet 10 inches, Kristof Van Hout is both the tallest soccer player and tallest goalkeeper in the world. He is so tall that he doesn’t even have to jump to catch incoming set pieces from corners.
Kristof plays in the Belgian Pro League, and he’s currently a squad member of the Westerio club.
Also at 6 feet 10 inches, Paul Millar is the second tallest soccer player of all time. Miller is a British striker who played for Eigin City from 2010 to 2014. He was so tall that the Eigin City Staff had to increase the height of the entrance.
Apart from playing soccer, Paul Millar works full-time as a fireman.
At 6ft 9 inches, the Croatian goalkeeper Vanja Ivesa is the 3rd tallest soccer player and the second tallest goalkeeper in the world. Interestingly, he happens to be the tallest soccer player registered on FIFA 21.
Additionally, Vanja Ivesa also holds the record of being the oldest player in the Croatian First Football League, a feat he achieved on the 17th of February in 2018.
Although the current tallest Olympian is Chinese basketball player Muhao Li at 7ft 2 inches tall, the tallest Olympian in history is Iranian volleyball player Morteza Mehrzad, who, at 8’1’’, plays volleyball while sitting down.