In sports, a fraction of a second can make all the difference between who wins and who goes home empty-handed. Here are five pictures of some of the most memorable moments in sports for the last decade.
#1 The Lightning Bolt
Now retired, but certainly not forgotten, the world’s fastest man is a walking (and running) miracle. He holds the world records for 100 and 200-meter sprints and has won three successive golds in both disciplines. With an impressive collection of eight gold medals from the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Summer Olympics, it’s easy to understand why he’d have time to pose and smile before the finishing line.
#2 Gold for Katie, a milestone for women in Olympic boxing
The 2008 Summer Olympics marked the end of boxing as a men’s only Olympic sport. Katie Taylor was not only the first female boxing gold medalist in the 2012 Olympics, but she was also instrumental in introducing women’s boxing into the program. Here she is, in a victorious moment, both for her and women in sport.
#3 Wheeling into justice
The year is 2016, the man being wheeled to a waiting police car is Pat Hickey. Hickey had been the long-time president of the OCI (Olympic Council of Ireland) since 1988. However, it all ended during the Summer Olympics in Rio when he was arrested and jailed for alleged illegal ticket sales. This is definitely one of the gloomiest and most memorable sports pictures of the decade.
#4 “It only took us only 28 years to win”
Possibly one of the most meme-able shots of England’s first top World Cup performance since 1990, was the one of Harry Maguire and his girlfriend Fern Hawkins, after beating Colombia in 2018. Although they lost to Croatia in the semis and Belgium in the third-place play-off, England still made history.
#5 Vive La France
It’s been a decade of World Cups dominated by Europe’s finest teams. Spain in 2010, Germany in 2014, and France in 2018 each got the grandest prize in football. The photo captures a glorious moment in time for the French team as they plunge into victorious celebration under the Russian rain.
Athletes come in all shapes and sizes. Generally, their size is highly dependent on what sport they play, but even then there is some variation. However, in all sports, some athletes are smaller than others. In this article, we’ll look at some of the smallest athletes from all sports and all generations from across the globe. Don’t be fooled by their size though: these athletes are or were some of the best!
Michelle Kwan – 5’2″
Here’s our first figure skater on the list, Michelle Kwan. Compared to all the other female athletes we’ve mentioned so far, she’s one of the tallest, but objectively she’s still pretty tall. The tallest of the shortest, if you will.
Kwan has tons of success under her belt, including Olympic medals and several championships. Few people embody tiny but mighty as much as she does!
Muggsy Bogues – 5’3″
At a mere 5’3″, Muggsy Bogues is the shortest player in the history of the NBA, a league and sport that is well-known for its tall athletes. Despite being so short for the sport, he was a truly great asset to his team, with a total of 1,369 career steals.
It just goes to show, height isn’t everything, even in basketball. Sure, it’s an advantage, but that can be overcome with skill if it is great enough.
Rico Abreu – 4’4″
When people think of athletes, they usually forget to give attention to professional racers. It’s a sport too, people! Anyway, Rico Abreu is one of the shortest professional racers out there. He’s won a number of titles as a racer, including the 2015 and 2016 Chili Bowl.
He’s also run 26 races over three years in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Thankfully, stature doesn’t really have as much of an impact on racing, so it doesn’t hold Abreu back much.
Nadia Comaneci – 5’4″
Another gymnast, Nadia Comaneci is short but is still much taller than many of the other gymnasts we’ve mentioned here. Still, objectively she is rather short. At the age of 14, she was the first gymnast to be given a perfect score of 10 at the Olympics.
Of course, that was all the way back in 1976, but the point still stands regardless. She’s pretty legendary as far as gymnasts are concerned!
Lionel Messi – 5’7″
5’7″ actually seems pretty tall when we’re talking about Lionel Messi, but objectively speaking it’s below average. And of course, soccer includes a whole lot of running, so one might think that long legs on tall people is the way to go.
However, Lionel Messi doesn’t really care about any of that. Being a little shorter than most of his compatriots hasn’t had any impact on his ability to perform at the highest level.
Danica Patrick – 5’2″
Height doesn’t have too much of an impact on racing, but Danica Patrick is still on the notably short side at just 5’2″. Not that it mattered much, since she is the most successful female driver in the history of American open-wheel racing.
She’s retired now, so she isn’t a current athlete, but we don’t think that’s enough of a reason to not include her on this list.
Bruce Lee – 5’6″
Bruce Lee may be most well-known as a movie star, but never forget that he was a martial artist first, and a pretty short one at that. Of course, 5’6″ may not seem like it is all that short, but you have to remember that from your average athlete’s point of view, it is.
Being a little short is no problem for a legendary fighter like Bruce Lee though. It’s just a shame that we couldn’t have seen more of him in action before he was taken from us.
Trindon Holliday – 5’5″
When it comes to the modern NFL (well, within the last 25 years or so), most people envision players that are tall and buff, so when someone is 5’5″ and weighs only 162 pounds, you can consider them on the much shorter side. Trindon Holliday is one such player in the NFL.
He’s been out of the league since 2015, but he is one of the more recently active athletes on this list. Just remember, even though we mention even shorter people on this list, 5’5″ is still short compared to the average athlete.
Gabby Douglas – 4’11”
One of the many gymnasts of small stature on this list is Gabby Douglas. We’re convinced they actually have an edge in this sport, all things considered. Gabby Douglas isn’t quite as short as the other gymnasts on this list, but that certainly doesn’t mean she’s tall.
Either way, she’s the all-around champion for the 2012 Olympics, and she won a silver medal in 2015, so it’s pretty clear that Gabby Douglas is a fantastic athlete.
Nathan Gerbe – 5’5″
As you can probably tell on this list by now, 5’5″ is a pretty common height for short male athletes. Nathan Gerbe, a hockey player, is another athlete of this particular height. He’s not one of the most decorated hockey players in the NHL, but he’s certainly not bad by any means.
In fact, his annual income is approximately $700,000, so he’s definitely not doing bad at all. Of course, height isn’t quite as important in hockey as other sports, but it is still a disadvantage to overcome.
Shannon Bobbit – 5’2″
Shannon Denise Bobbit is an American professional basketball player and a free agent of the Women’s National Basketball Association. She’s one of the shortest players in the WNBA. Of course, female athletes are generally shorter than their male counterparts, but 5’2″ is still short by those standards.
Even so, her career is quite illustrious, so her short stature has clearly not done anything to impact her athletic abilities. Just like all of her fellow athletes on this list!
Dylan Postl – 4’5″
Dylan Postl, known by his wrestling moniker Hornswoggle, is one of the shortest wrestlers in the world at 4’5″. He was also the last Cruiserweight champion before the belt was deactivated. He’s one of the shortest athletes on this list. And while some of the others are just short, Postl actually has dwarfism.
There’s actually a few more athletes with this condition than you may think, many of whom will be on this list. Some people don’t let anything stop them from doing what they love.
Boston Scott – 5’6″
We know anyone over 5’5″ seems tall in comparison to some of the other athletes we’ve mentioned on this list, but 5’6″ is short for football players, and that’s the height of Boston Scott. He’s the shortest active running back in the NFL.
Since 2018, Scott has been playing for the Philadelphia Eagles. At just 25 years of age, this running back still has many years in the game ahead of him.
Eddy Hellebuyck – 5’4″
When it comes to running athletes, having longer legs is almost always an advantage, which makes shorter runners even more impressive. Eddy Hellebuyck is a Belgian-born long-distance runner that is only 5’4″. He became a U.S. citizen in 2000 and competed in the U.S. Olympic trials.
Unfortunately, he didn’t get to go to the Olympics, but he was still a very competent runner and one of the shortest professional runners out there.
Camille Leblanc-Bazinet – 5’2″
The only female CrossFit athlete we’ll be mentioning on this list is Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, a Canadian professional. She’s the female winner of the 2014 CrossFit games. While she might be short, Camille has plenty of strength packed into that small frame.
Of course, that’s not much different from all the other athletes on this list, but each of them deserves praise in their own right for their accomplishments.
Aditya Dev – 2’9″
Aditya Dev, sometimes called Romeo Dev, was afflicted with dwarfism, which resulted in the diminutive size of 2’9″. Despite this, he ended up being a bodybuilder. Of course, as a bodybuilder, he was only able to lift custom-made dumbbells that weighed about 3.3 pounds.
However, considering that Aditya Dev weighed only 20 pounds, being able to achieve that was quite a feat. Either way, he’s one of the smallest athletes to ever live.
Schillonie Calvert – 4’5″
This sprinter from Jamaica is short: really short, at just 4’5″. She specializes in 100-meter runs, and while there are plenty of short long-distance runners out there, we can’t imagine her anywhere else on the track.
Regardless, she competes in the highest level of her sport, so we’ve little doubt that her height doesn’t do much to make her less formidable in those 100-meter dashes!
Manny Pacquiao – 5’4″
Manny Pacquiao, despite being 5’4″ in a sport where being taller is a definite advantage, is a well-known face in the sport, going so far as to be the poster boy for modern boxing in many regards. He doesn’t have the same aura of invincibility as he used to, but his boxing career has still been illustrious.
Having won many championships, Manny Pacquiao has proven, like all of these athletes, that being shorter than the competition does not mean success is impossible.
Marcin Garuch – 5’1″
Honestly, there are more 5’1″ soccer players out there than we thought. It makes it seem a little less unordinary, but don’t be deceived: these are short athletes, and Marcin Garuch is one of them. This Polish midfielder is a force to be reckoned with on the field.
We’re actually kind of surprised that there are so many players of this height in the sport, a sport in which long legs definitely seem beneficial.
Simone Biles – 4’8″
Most everyone knows about Simone Biles, seeing as how she made a great name for herself in the Olympics as a gymnast. Nearly everyone knows that she is tiny, but few know that her height is a mere 4’8″. Even for a female athlete, that’s small.
Of course, it’s had little effect on her abilities, or she wouldn’t be winning medals, now would she? Then again, perhaps being smaller helps in gymnastics?
Jack Shapiro – 5’1″
Jack Shapiro is known as the shortest player ever in the National Football League. Despite his extremely small stature, he made a name for himself in the sport even aside from his fame related to height. His father even tried to stop him from playing because the same sport broke his brother’s legs.
But then Shapiro forged his father’s signature, allowing him to play the sport he loved and make a name for himself as one of its legends.
David Extebarria – 5’5″
At 5’5″, David Extebarria is a pretty short cyclist that won the 12th and 16th stages in the 1999 Tour De France. He ended up winning 12th overall during that particular competition. Other than that, he won a few minor competitions during his career as well.
We hate to say it, but his height is kind of the most relevant thing we have to say about him. But then again, that is the point of this list, isn’t it?
Julio Cesar Chavez – 5’6″
Once again, we have another short fighter. We know you may have forgotten considering the people mentioned on this list, but 5’6″ is still under average height, which for men, is about 5’10”. Julio Cesar Chavez may be on the shorter side, but he’s a great fighter.
He’s one of the most popular names in fighting. In fact, some consider him to be one of the best boxers in Mexican history. He’s even known as Mr. KO due to how many knockout wins he’s got.
Julie Krone – 4’11”
Born on July 24th, 1963, Julie Krone is a now-retired American horse jockey. She became the first female jockey to win a Triple Crown race in 1993, and in 2000 she became the first woman inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
On top of all of that, she’s also the shortest American racing jockey ever at 4’11”. Well, technically she’s 4’10.5″, but we figured we would round up.
Daniel Alberto Villalva Barrios – 5’1″
Another 5’1″ soccer player is Daniel Alberto Villalva Barrios. We’ll just call him Barrios. Barrios started playing soccer back when he was ten, but he was performing at a pro level as young as 17, scoring his first pro goal at around the same time.
Barrios is a fan favorite, so it’s clear that his height was never a factor in how well he could play. Of course, we’ve seen plenty of evidence of that throughout this whole list.
Darren Sproles – 5’6″
Here we have another short football player, though Darren Sproles may very well be one of the most popular. He’s the all-time leading rusher in Kansas State history. That’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as his fame and performance is concerned.
Of course, we’re just here to talk about the fact that he’s short for an athlete. Or just in general, really. But we have to mention that he’s a great athlete out of respect.
Tich Cornford – 5’0″
Tich Cornford was the shortest cricketer in history. His real name was Walter, but he was called Tich due to his short height. While he was having a pretty prominent cricket career at the time that he played, it was cut short by the outbreak of World War II.
One way or another, he is one of the shortest athletes in history, even if we ignore just cricket in general. That’s why we’re including Tich Cornford.
Hu Yadan – 4’10”
And here we have our first diver on the list, Hu Yadan, who is only 4’10”. She’s a Chinese diver that was born in 1996, and competed in diving during the 2012 Olympics. Unfortunately, we don’t know much more about her career than that.
Fortunately, we know what we need to know for this list: she’s an athlete, and she’s below average height. So, this is her spot on the list.
Elton Jose Xavier Gomes – 5’1″
Certainly a miniscule soccer player compared to many of the other athletes out there, Gomes is only 5’1″. Even so, he’s a fantastic player that is great at getting through the defenses of the enemy team. His fame doesn’t stretch far beyond soccer though.
That said, he is still well-known within the Arab soccer community and will likely continue to hold that level of fame due to his heart and skill.
Spud Webb – 5’6″
Spud Webb made a name for himself in basketball when he defeated his teammate Dominique Wilkins in the 1986 Slam Dunk contest. In doing so, he became the shortest athlete to win the contest, further cementing his fame as a household name.
His career may not have been as illustrious as, say, Michael Jordan, but at the end of the day, Spud Webb was a key contributor in proving that height wasn’t everything, even in a sport like basketball.
Lionel Giroux – 4’4″
Known by his wrestling title Little Beaver, Lionel Giroux was an even shorter wrestler than the aforementioned Dylan Postl. He began his wrestling career back when he was 15 and won plenty of titles despite his stature. He even made it into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Being a wrestler is all about making a name for yourself, and Lionel Giroux really managed to do that as Little Beaver. Sometimes you can use your size to your advantage!
Demetrious Johnson – 5’3″
Known by his popular nickname “Mighty Mouse,” Demetrious Johnson is a very skilled fighter in the MMA, while being a pretty diminutive 5’3″. Small stature hasn’t stopped him from being a great fighter, as he has the title of Flyweight champion in the UFC.
All things considered, UFC generally puts people of similar stature and height against each other, but that doesn’t diminish the value of his fighting abilities.
Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce – 5’0″
A track and field athlete, Pryce is only marginally taller than many of the other female athletes mentioned on this list at 5’0″. Unlike many of those athletes though, the sport she performs in really benefits from long legs and greater height, making her pretty impressive.
We’re not saying short people can’t run fast, but it’s definitely easier to run faster and farther when you’re tall, that’s just physics!
Yogi Berra – 5’7″
At 5’7″, Yogi Berra has a few inches over the majority of other athletes on this list, but objectively speaking, he’s still pretty short as far as athletes are concerned, and as far as baseball players are concerned overall. Yogi Berra isn’t known for his height due to the other aspects of his popularity.
The fact that he’s such a famous baseball player is probably why most people don’t think about Yogi Berra’s height, but he is a short athlete.
Jim Bradford – 5’0″
Speaking of short footballers, Jim Bradford has the distinction of being the shortest player in Australian football history. Being only five feet tall, it’s no surprise that he earns a spot on this list of shortest athletes ever. Like all of them though, his height didn’t hold him back at all.
Height only has to be an obstruction to greatness if you let it, like all things. Each of these athletes overcame any sort of inherent height disadvantage to be great.
John Dodson – 5’3″
A particularly short fighter in UFC, Dodson has a pretty solid rank in the Bantamweight rankings. He’s also the winner of Spike TV’s The Ultimate Fighter: Team Bisping vs. Team Miller. As we’ve said already, short stature is a major disadvantage in fighting, but that clearly hasn’t put a dampener on his skills.
He’s definitely under the average size for a UFC fighter, but he can throw a mad punch and knows how to fight with the best of them.
Fanny Walden – 5’2″
Born in 1888, Frederick Ingram Walden started his professional football career in 1909, and was a mere 5’2″, quite small for the sport. His physique was so petite that he was even dubbed “Fanny” by his teammates. Despite all of this, he was still one of the best players in the league.
Ingram passed away in 1949, but even today he still holds the record for being the shortest payer to represent England at the national level.
Chris Spealler – 5’5″
There’s a surprisingly high number of 5’5″ athletes on the CrossFit scene, apparently. Chris Spealler is another such athlete, hailing from Park City. He trains and coaches other athletes in the sport there. Considering how many of these shorter athletes there are in CrossFit, we wonder if they’re actually advantaged?
We don’t doubt their effort one way or another. It just seems like one of the few sports in which a shorter stature may actually be beneficial to performance.
Stubby Magner – 5’3″
He’s not the shortest baseball player to ever play in the MLB, but Stubby Magner, who only played 13 career games in total all the way back in 1911, is definitely still one of the shortest throughout the history of the sport. Even back then, most baseball players were 5’11”.
We know he’s not a particularly recent baseball player, but since he holds one of the lowest spots as far as small stature in the sport is concerned, we felt it was necessary to include him.
Eddie Gaedel – 3’7″
The shortest person to ever play Major League Baseball was Eddie Gaedel. Unfortunately, his career wasn’t particularly illustrious, as he made a single plate appearance and was walked with four consecutive balls before being replaced by a pinch runner at first base.
However, he is still in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Or at least, his jersey is at any rate. His career may not have been extremely illustrious, but his very appearance in the MLB is great in and of itself.
Caleb Williams – 5’2″
This rather short man from Buford, Georgia is a world champion powerlifter, but also a national Olympic lifting champion. He’s also a regular competitor in the CrossFit Games. Of course, in such events, it’s actually possible that shorter stature can be an advantage.
Either way, Caleb Williams is a prime example of tiny but mighty. There are smaller athletes out there, but Williams is certainly one of the shortest male athletes on this list.
Phil Rizzuto – 5’6″
Oddly enough, baseball of all sports seems to have a pretty high average height when it comes to their players. There aren’t that many shorter than 5’8″. However, Phil Rizzuto is only 5’6″, so he doesn’t fit in that mold. Not that it did any harm to his performance.
After all, Rizzuto is widely regarded as one of the best bunters in the history of the MLB. Of course, whether or not his height had anything to do with that is speculation.
Earl Boykins – 5’4″
He’s not as short as the aforementioned Bogues, but Earl Boykins is still one of the shortest players in the NBA. Most famously, he made two free throws to seal a Wizards’ victory back in a 2009. That was probably the highlight of his career.
Not to say that he isn’t a good player of course, but Boykins unfortunately hasn’t been able to make a name for himself to the same extent as legendary NBA players.
Austin Malleolo – 5’5″
Another CrossFit athlete, Austin Malleolo is only 5’5″, slightly taller than some of his fellow short athletes but still definitely on the smaller side of stature. Even so, he’s a three-time winner of the CrossFit Northeast Regional and finished in the top ten at the CrossFit Games in 2010 and 2012.
A clear example of a man that doesn’t let his stature stop him from performing on the same level as everyone else. Of course, that’s true of all of these athletes.
Josh Bridges – 5’5″
Josh Bridges may be small, but he’s tough. He’s a former collegiate wrestler and U.S. Navy Seal. However, he’s an athlete now in the sense that he does CrossFit. He’s competed in the CrossFit Games four times, and has finished on or near the podium three out of four of those times.
He’s a little taller than the last CrossFit athlete that we mentioned, but nevertheless, he’s certainly on the shorter side, so he’s earned a spot on this list.
Diego Maradona – 5’5″
Maradona’s personal life has been pretty controversial, but there’s no denying that he was a spectacular soccer player. Not to mention, he was a pretty short one. 5’5″ is definitely on the shorter side as far as soccer players are concerned, but that clearly didn’t stop him.
With tons of awards, medals, and trophies to his name, Diego Maradona is considered one of the greatest athletes in his sport. Sadly, the Argentinian passed away in November 2020.
Pernell Whitaker – 5’6″
Boxer Pernell Whitaker was especially short for boxing, a sport where the reach of one’s fists is especially important. Despite being short, he performed extremely well, winning several gold medals and titles across four different weight classes. He was even inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2006.
Granted, he lost some of his most famous fights, but his overall record of 40-4-1 was still extremely admirable, and throughout his entire boxing career he was never knocked out. What a champ!
Mario Andretti – 5’7″
We’re running out of athletes that are extremely short, so we have to mention athletes that are just a normal kind of short. This includes Mario Andretti, a 5’7″ racer. Of course, anyone who knows anything about Formula One racing knows who Mario Andretti is.
We understand that height doesn’t have much to do with racing, but nevertheless, he fits on this list as an athlete that is shorter than the average height.
Henri Richard – 5’7″
Known as the Pocket Rocket, Henri Richard is a short, but not diminutive hockey player from the past that most fans know the name of due to his fame and reputation. He won a total of 11 Stanley Cups, so it’s no surprise that he’s one of the most legendary hockey players ever.
Like all of the other athletes on this list, Henri Richard is proof that height has much less to do with athletic success than actual skill.
Mary Lou Retton – 4’9″
Another gymnast, Mary Lou Retton is just barely taller than her gymnast comrade Simone Biles, In fact, she’s only an inch taller. On top of that, she weighs a shocking 93 pounds! She’s a tiny woman to be sure, but she was darn good at what she did.
That said, now we are even more inclined to believe that being smaller is better for a gymnast. But we don’t have the right knowledge to say that without any doubts.