diamond geezer

 Monday, August 30, 2004


After 17 memorable days in Athens that's the final race run and the final Olympic medals awarded. And didn't we do well? No really. Tenth place is so much better than we should have expected given that the UK is only the 21st largest country in the world in terms of population. We thrashed countries twice as big as ourselves (Nigeria, no gold medals), three times as big (Brazil, 4 gold medals), four times as big (Indonesia, one gold medal) and even 17 times as big (India, no gold medals). Just think population before you think medals and we've had a remarkably successful Games. To illustrate what I mean, here's the final medal table with the added statistic of world population ranking:

5Japan10th16  912
7France20th11  913
8South Korea25th  912  9
9Italy23rd  91111
10Great Britain21st  91212

China may be by far the most populous nation on the planet but they didn't manage to top the medal table. In contrast every other country in the top 10 has done better than their population might have suggested, Australia especially so. Our antipodean cousins, with a population of just 20 million, have performed superbly to appear as high as fourth place. The Olympic medal table is therefore fatally flawed. All countries compete in the current table on equal terms, despite the fact that they have vastly different human populations of potential athletes to draw upon. This should be rectified by taking into account the size each country when drawing up the list. I'd like to propose the introduction of 'millions per gold medal' as a much better indication of sporting excellence. China has a population exceeding 1ΒΌ billion, which rates as a massive 40 million citizens required per gold medal. Australia in contrast earned one gold medal for roughly every million inhabitants, a much more impressive ratio. Here's how the revised Olympic medal table would stand if the millions/goldmedal factor were included:

6New Zealand34m1.33

Congratulations to the Bahamas, the tiny islands whose gold in the women's 400m puts them deservedly at the top of diamond geezer's new medal table, up from a lowly 52nd in the real ranking. Norway leap up to second, and hosts Greece have also done particularly well, their six golds meriting 8th place in the revised list. China, in contrast, plummet from real 2nd to only 53rd in the new table, and the United States tumble from 1st to 34th. That's more like it I think, a much fairer representation of national strength. Maybe we should introduce this new ranking method in time for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. And the UK? Our impressive haul of nine golds rates at just 6.7 million inhabitants per gold medal, which puts us... ah, only 29th. Forget I ever suggested it...

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