12 Gender Neutral Olympic Baby Names From History

Carl Lewis of the USA watches the scoreboard after winning his 100m heat, 03 August 1984 in Los Angeles. Lewis later won the gold medal in 9.99 sec, to go along with his three other gold medals in the long jump, the 200m and the 4x100m relay, equalling the record of compatriot Jesse Owens set in Berlin in 1936. (Photo credit should read STAFF/AFP/GettyImages)
Source: STAFF/AFP/Getty Images

Five or six years from now, you can bet that there will be thousands of Simones and Gabrielles entering kindergarten in droves, and for good reason — the Olympics are inspirational enough to make anyone want to name their firstborn after an athlete, whether or not they plan on actually having a kid in the first place. But why limit yourself to recent athletes when there are so many gender neutral Olympic baby names from history to choose from? 

After all, the Olympics have been around in some form or another for centuries. There's evidence that the first Games took place all the way back in 776 B.C. on the plains of Olympia, and they continued for nearly 12 centuries until Emperor Theodosius put a stop to the fun, claiming the events were pagan. (I'm guessing he was a hit at parties.) The Olympics resumed in their modern form in 1896, when they took place in Athens, but they truly took off in 1924, when the Games included more than 3,000 athletes from 44 countries. 

The Games take place every two years, so there's certainly no shortage of names with historical roots to choose from. Besides, there's something to be said for giving your child a unique name. Do you really want to spend the rest of your life calling out your child's name and having half the class look up? I didn't think so. 

1. Jesse

Jesse Owens may not be the most decorated Olympian, but he regularly broke world records in the 1936 Berlin Games. "Jesse" is derived from a Hebrew name possibly meaning "gift."

2. Al

Al can be a nickname for all kinds of names. In the case of famed discus thrower Al Oerter, who won gold medals in four consecutive games, it was short for Alfred.

3. Haile

Ethiopian distance runner Haile Gebrselassie competed in every Summer Olympics between 1996 and 2008, winning two gold medals in the process. When it's spelled in the typical Amharic way, "Haile" means "power."

4. Leslie

Fine, Leslie Jones isn't exactly an Olympian, but she's having enough fun in Rio to earn a place on this list. "Leslie" is a gender-neutral name derived from the Gaelic name leas celyn, which translates to "garden of holly."

5. Ray

Ray Ewry may have competed in events that are no longer today, but the track athlete went from a wheelchair-bound youth to winning eight gold medals between 1900 and 1908. "Ray" can be short for "Raymond," but it also works as a standalone. 

6. Jackie

Jackie Joyner-Kersee is one of the greatest all-around athletes in history, and she's earned three gold, one silver, and two bronze medals over the course of her career. "Jackie" is a diminutive for "Jack" or "Jacqueline."

7. Hiromi

Japanese weightlifter Hiromi Miyake just took bronze at this year's Olympics, four years after winning silver in London. The Japanese name "Hiromi" means "widespread beauty."  

8. Babe 

Although it was just her nickname, Mildred "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias drew praise for her athletic prowess as well as criticism for being too "manly." Her nickname has been shared by fellow athlete Babe Ruth

9. Billie

Billie Jean King is one of the greatest tennis players of all time, and she served as an openly gay delegate to the 2014 Sochi Olympics. However you spell it, the name is a diminutive of "William," which means "protector."

10. Blaine

Blaine Wilson qualified for the American gymnastics Olympic team three times, starting with the 1996 Atlanta Games. The name is derived from a Gaelic name meaning "yellow."

11. Aubrey

Evelyn Aubrey Montague was a British journalist and athlete who competed on Great Britain's 1924 track team, which later became the subject of the film Chariots of Fire. "Aubrey" is derived from Old High German elements meaning "elf ruler."

12. Kris

Whether you use the more masculine "Chris" or the more feminine "Kris," the diminutive has a history in the Olympics. Kristi Yamaguchi, for instance, remains one of the most famous figure skaters of all time. 

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