Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Gold Medal Count

Posting has been light over the last few weeks as we are still gearing up for our move to the West Coast. It's amazing how many things you have to do to shift 2 people, an apartment and a cat (the cat being the most difficult!).

I just came across this cool widget from a new site called youcalc. It's an Olympic medal count you can sort by total, per capita or per some GDP figure.

(if it's not working for you, you can look at it here)

When you look at total medals won by population (per captia), the list changes drastically - New Zealand is in the top 10!.

It's tempting to say the per captia list reflects the real success as medal total 'normalized' by population puts both large and small countries on an equal footing. It's hard to compete on absolute basis when China has 1.5 billion people to pull from!

It's tempting, but also wrong. Population size is a factor only if you have the investment to make it one. India won almost nothing yet is the second most populous country in the world. They invest almost zero in Olympic sports, and it shows.

Many of the small countries on top of the list (Jamaica for instance) have also benefited from athletes attending American schools where investment in track and field is strong. Their success reflects this investment.

I'd love to see a list adjusted for both population and investment in Olympic sports. That would equalize countries a lot more. Although I have a hunch a fully 'normalized' medal table based on per capita Olympic spend in USDs adjusted for athletes that train outside of their country of origin probably won't catch on. Not much of a ring to it.

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Jane said...

How do you find these sites?

Paul Soldera said...

You know, I am not too sure. They just pop up, usually on my RSS feeds from various news sites.

There is a certain level of 'connectedness' you need to achieve to receive spontaneous trivia on the Internet.