Olympic Medal Landscape 2012-2016

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Introduction

In this post I share my version of the topography of the Olympic medal landscape. I use three data points: performance in London; a prediction of performance in Rio (by Gracenote); and actual performance in Rio.

I share some data too in regard to Great Britain’s performance in Rio.

The Gold Standard

The United States won 46 gold medals in London in 2012 (and a total of 103 medals). In Rio, the United States won 46 gold medals again but exceeded the total medals won in London by 18 medals.

They have set the gold standard scale for my visualisation. In Rio, Italy moved into the top ten medal winning nations (9th). The predictions for Rio did not have Italy this high up the medal table.

Brazil finished thirteenth on the medal table. My topography for eleven nations in rank order is:

USA

GB

China

Russia

Germany

Japan

France

Korea

Italy

Australia

Brazil

My data for these charts can be found here.

Great Britain

Great Britain is the first team in the history of the Olympic Games to improve its position on the medal table in the first Games after hosting the Games. Great Britain won a total of 69 medals in Rio (27 gold, 23 silver, 17 bronze), 2 more than in London (29 gold, 17 silver, 19 bronze).

My data about performances after hosting the Games can be found here.

There is a fascinating story to tell about Sweden’s performance in Antwerp in 1920. After a gap of eight years during the First World War, Sweden equalled its achievement as host in 1912 on the medal table (2nd) and won one fewer medal (64 compared to 65). That performance is the highest % of medals by a team won four years after hosting the Games.

Photo Credit

Rio de Janeiro (Sama093, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

 

Performance at Summer Olympics Four Years Before Hosting the Games

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Introduction

An article about the prospects for Japan’s 2016 Summer Olympics team in The Japan Times sent me off looking at Olympic medal data.

Simon Gleave is quoted extensively in the article. His observations include this:

I think we are now seeing the effect, or the beginning effect of Tokyo 2020. We’re seeing with Japan what we often see with countries who are going to host the Games, which is the potential for a very good performance in the Games before the ones they host.

I have gone through some data archives to explore four-year out patterns.

My data can be found here.

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Four Years Out From a Home Games

I am using total medals won as the introductory basis for my investigation.

Patterns vary according to factors external to the Games themselves.

The most successful performance in total medal terms has been the Soviet Union at the 1976 Games in Montreal. However their subsequent medal haul at a home Games was affected by the United States’ boycott of the 1980 Games. Nonetheless, Russia won 20.39% of the medals available at Montreal.

The top 10 successful nations in terms of total medals won in the Games preceding a home Games are:

  • 1976 Soviet Union (20.39% medals won: first in gold medal table 1980)
  • 1900 USA (17.54%: first in gold medal table 1904)
  • 1928 USA (17.13%: first in gold medal table 1932)
  • 1992 USA (13.25%: first in gold medal table 1996)
  • 1920 France (9.34%: third in gold medal table 1924)
  • 1896 France (9.02%; first in gold medal table 1900)
  • 1908 Sweden (7.72%: second in gold medal table 1912)
  • 2004 China (6.80%; first in gold medal table 2008 )
  • 1932 Germany (5.78%: ninth in gold medal table 1936)
  • 1956 Italy (5.33%: third in gold medal table 1960)

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Gold Medal Success Four Years Out From a Home Games

My data suggest this rank order of gold medal success at each of the Games in the modern era:

GMP

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Gold Medal Success at a Home Games

My second source of ranking data is a nation’s place on the medal table based on gold medal success.

In the Olympic Games held since 1896:

  • 8 hosts have won more gold medals than any other nation competing.
  • 2 hosts have won the second highest number of gold medals.
  • 5 hosts have won the third highest number of gold medals.

Of the other hosts, four have finished outside the top ten of gold medal winners:

  • Great Britain (twelfth in 1948)
  • Greece (fifteenth in 2004)
  • Mexico (fifteenth in 1968)
  • Canada (twenty-seventh in 1976)

The Gold Medal rank order looks like this for home Games:

GMH

The two highest totals of gold medals won come from the boycott era (1980 and 1984).

It will be interesting to investigate the impact of the exclusion of any Russian athletes at the Rio Games.

Photo Credits

110 metre race – Olympic games 1912 (Library of Congress, no known copyright restrictions)

Maureen Gardner wins heat two of Women’s 80m Hurdles, Olympic games, London, 1948 (National Media Museum, no known copyright restrictions)

Olympic Stadium, Montreal (Ron Reiring, CC BY 2.0)

Beijing Olympic Games Stadium (Andy Miah, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Total Medals at London 2012 (to Day 10)

At the end of Day 10 at London 2012 the total numbers of medals won by the top ten countries were:

  • China 64 (6 medals Day 1, 6 Day 2, 5 Day 3, 6 Day 4, 7 Day 5, 4 Day 6, 8 Day 7, 11 Day 8, 8 Day 9, 3 Day 10)
  • USA 63 (5, 6, 6, 6, 6, 8, 6, 11, 6, 3)
  • Russia 42 (1, 3, 1, 3, 3, 6, 6, 5, 7, 7)
  • Great Britain 40 (0, 2, 1, 1, 5, 6, 7, 7, 8, 3)
  • Japan 28 (3, 2, 6, 2, 4, 2, 2, 3, 3, 1)
  • France 26 (0, 4, 3, 4, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3, 1)
  • South Korea 22 (3, 2, 1, 2, 4, 2, 2, 1, 3, 2)
  • Germany 22 (0, 0, 1, 5, 7, 4, 3, 1, 1, 0)
  • Australia 22 (1, 2, , 2, 3, 2, 3, 6, 0, 2)
  • Italy 17 (5, 2, 1, 0, 1, 2, 1, 1, 1, 3)