Our next nominee is a U.S. gymnast who competed in the chaotic monthslong 1904 St. Louis Olympic Games, which were held in tandem with that year's World's Fair. He ended up walking away with six medals: three golds, two silvers and one bronze -- in one day. That's right. One day. George Eyser received the bronze for the horizontal bar, the pair of silvers for the pommel horse and the all-round competition, and the golds for the parallel bars, the vault and rope climbing [sources: Olympic.org, Spalding's Official Athletic Almanac].
Now sure, lots of athletes get multiple medals, but how many of them are amputees? Eyser was; he had lost his left leg in an accident. And remember too, his prosthetic wasn't made like the fancy ones we see nowadays. There was no field of biomechatronics back in that era, no carbon-fiber composites and other modern plastics. Eyser was rocking the old-school pirate look -- his prosthetic was a wooden leg.
Since 1948, the Paralympics have evened the playing field for people with disabilities, but that didn't stop Eyser. His feat -- competing in the Olympics with an artificial leg -- would not be repeated until the 2008 Beijing Games.