August 9, 2012

Olympic medal counts sorted by sportsmanship

The Chinese public has recently begun to question its government's and media's emphasis on winning Olympic gold medals while ignoring or castigating silver and bronze medalists. 

Indeed, there's something bullying about the Go Gold or Go Home attitude. So, I've sorted the medal charts by percentage of non-gold medals won as one clue to which countries have a healthy middle-of-the-road attitude toward the Olympics, wanting to be competitive without being obsessive about Winning Is the Only Thing. The top three countries in terms of percent of medals won that are not gold are Canada (only one gold out of 16 total medals), Sweden, and Japan. At the bottom of the list is North Korea (four golds out of five). Who would you rather have as a neighbor: Canada or North Korea?

Gold Silver Bronze Total % non-Gold
Canada 1 5 10
16
94%
Sweden 1 3 3
7
86%
Japan 5 14 14
33
85%
Spain 2 7 2
11
82%
Brazil 2 2 7
11
82%
Australia 6 13 10
29
79%
Russia 12 21 23
56
79%
Romania 2 5 2
9
78%
Denmark 2 4 3
9
78%
Poland 2 1 6
9
78%
Czech Rep, 2 3 3
8
75%
Slovenia 1 1 2
4
75%
Germany 10 16 11
37
73%
France 8 9 12
29
72%
Kenya 2 2 3
7
71%
Belarus 3 3 4
10
70%
New Zealand 3 2 5
10
70%
Ukraine 3 1 6
10
70%
Netherlands 5 5 6
16
69%
Jamaica 3 3 3
9
67%
Georgia 1 1 1
3
67%
Norway 1 1 1
3
67%
Italy 7 6 6
19
63%
Cuba 3 3 2
8
63%
USA 39 25 26
90
57%
Iran 4 4 1
9
56%
China 37 24 19
80
54%
Korea 12 7 6
25
52%
Great Britain 25 13 14
52
52%
Croatia 2 1 1
4
50%
Ethiopia 2
2
4
50%
Hungary 8 4 3
15
47%
South Africa 3 1 1
5
40%
Kazakhstan 6
3
9
33%
Switzerland 2 1
3
33%
DPR Korea 4
1
5
20%


102 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'd much rather have NK as a neighbor than actually be there myself. Switzerland is a pretty good neighbor.

tenneby said...

Who would you rather have as a neighbor: Canada or North Korea?

A much more interesting question might be: Who would you rather have as a neighbor: United States or North Korea? I wonder how citizens of different countries would respond to that.

Anonymous said...

NK is not that bad of a neighbor. For example, they don't promote emigration into their neighboring countries.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:"NK is not that bad of a neighbor. For example, they don't promote emigration into their neighboring countries."

No, they just threaten their neighbors (cf China) with the possibility of mass emigration if their government collapses.

tenneby:"A much more interesting question might be: Who would you rather have as a neighbor: United States or North Korea? I wonder how citizens of different countries would respond to that."

That one's not hard. Every third world country wishes that it were in Mexico's place vis-a-vis the US border.

Syon

Anonymous said...

"The Chinese public has recently begun to question its government's and media's emphasis on winning Olympic gold medals while ignoring or castigating silver and bronze medalists."

I'll bet what the Chinese public is really questioning is the value of many of their golds. So much of them are in junk sports like badminton which is generally a butt of jokes around the world. China doesn't win many prestige golds. The prestige sports are track/field, swimming, wrestling, and few others. (Boxing used to be one but no more). China wins some prestige golds in gymnastics(and diving is a semi-prestige sport), but most of their golds come from dinky sports. China does very well in weight-lifting but at the lower weights than in the truly prestigious higher weights.

"Indeed, there's something bullying about the Go Gold or Go Home attitude."

I think this is only half-true. Everyone trains for the gold and wants the gold. Silver and bronze ain't bad, but gold is the real prize. It's like it's good to be nominated for oscars but everyone wants the prize.

And I think the Chinese government/people would rather have silver or bronze than nothing.

Gold-mania could partly be cultural. Chinese are nuts about gold.
And there is also the tiger mother thing: go to Harvard or die.

But really, I think Chinese would be happy with any medal if they can get it. The real problem is China cannot even pick up silver and bronze in most track and field event and men's wrestling.
If China wins, say, 20 medals in tracks and field--none of them gold--, I'll bet they'll be happy. But the only Chinese guy who won was in WALKING. Hahaha!! Now, that is about the gayest sport there is.
It's the sort of gold that is almost embarrassing to win. There is Jamaica with gold in 100 sprint, US with gold in hurdles, UK with gold in long jump, Russia with gold in high jump... and China with gold in... walking. Hahaha. It's embarrassing.

Anonymous said...

Switzerland. Nice try Steve.

Anonymous said...

"NK is not that bad of a neighbor. For example, they don't promote emigration into their neighboring countries."

Well, NK borders only one nation... China, which is a lot stronger and bigger. I suppose it borders South Korea, but they're all Koreans so that's iffy.

Anonymous said...

They both have a world class inferiority complex.

Peter said...

But the only Chinese guy who won was in WALKING. Hahaha!! Now, that is about the gayest sport there is.
It's the sort of gold that is almost embarrassing to win.


I'm sure that if you tried competing in Olympic racewalking, your attitude would change as soon as you collapsed in a sweaty gasping heap halfway through the race.

Anonymous said...

"I'll bet what the Chinese public is really questioning is the value of many of their golds. So much of them are in junk sports like badminton which is generally a butt of jokes around the world. China doesn't win many prestige golds. The prestige sports are track/field, swimming, wrestling, and few others"


Well in that case the UK and most european nations should also be questioning the value of their golds since the majority of them come in "non-prestigious" events involving horses, bicycles and boats etc.

Track and field is dominated by afros, swimming by white americans, and muslims and japanese do very well in wrestling.

Gilbert Ratchet said...

I don't think Canada is happy with its gold medal ratio:

http://sports.nationalpost.com/2012/08/08/canada-doing-fine-at-olympics-but-more-gold-medals-sure-would-be-nice/

Anonymous said...

"I don't think Canada is happy with its gold medal ratio..."

Probably not, but if trades were possible, I'd be more than willing make a trade, the golds (in fact, all medals) for ....well, you know...but they don't like cold weather.

irishman said...

Anonymous 8/9/12 5:19 PM said:
"(Boxing used to be one but no more)"

You're just saying that because America got pwned in Boxing this year. Sissies.

Seriously though, I remember being oddly crestfallen when China won more medals than America in 2008. I am rooting for them in 2012.

Steve Sailer said...

"I don't think Canada is happy with its gold medal ratio:"

http://sports.nationalpost.com/2012/08/08/canada-doing-fine-at-olympics-but-more-gold-medals-sure-would-be-nice/

Yes, but the Canadians complain about it in the nicest way.

Duke of Qin said...

42 million Welshmen weighted against 24 track and field medals...

Hard decision to make really.

Anonymous said...

"So much of them are in junk sports like badminton which is generally a butt of jokes around the world."

an asian woman playing badminton for australia was all that I watched of this olympics. the posterity will find all the olympics opening ceremonies before this one to be curiously archaic.

Anonymous said...

Disregarding the outliers like North Korea, Kazakhstan and Switzerland, the gold medal ratios of the major nations accurately reflect their rising or declining status.

The Anglosphere is still clinging to its global leadership, while China and South Korea are rising and mainland Europe (incl Russia) and Japan are declining.

Anonymous said...

No, they just threaten their neighbors (cf China) with the possibility of mass emigration if their government collapses.

Not exactly sure how they "threaten" China since China basically bankrolls them and they're essentially a Chinese satellite.

Anonymous said...

Well, NK borders only one nation... China, which is a lot stronger and bigger. I suppose it borders South Korea, but they're all Koreans so that's iffy.

It borders Russia as well.

CJ said...

North Korea has a land border with Russia, something which was perhaps a better-known fact during the Cold War. It also has territorial disputes with Japan, and has kidnapped over a dozen citizens of Japan and many more from South Korea.

OTOH, they do maintain serious fences on their borders, so there would be some advantage if they replaced Mexico as the southern neighbor.

Your Geography Teacher.

Anonymous said...

Whim's doping tests are getting tougher.

Anonymous said...

China doesn't win many prestige golds. The prestige sports are track/field, swimming, wrestling, and few others.

China does well in swimming. They had the second most golds in swimming this Olympics, and they were basically second in overall medals. Japan had 11 overall, and both Australia and China had 10 overall in swimming, to follow the US's 31.

Anonymous said...

"prestige golds"

Well, what is prestige and what isn't? Not all prestige events are equal.

How about this: the value of an bronze medal is equal to the number of American TV viewers its event gets. If it isn't broadcast on American TV it is worth zero. Gold is worth 3x, silver 2x. Add up the value of all your country's medals and you get an idea of how well you've done.

You could calculate a "western value" based on viewership in white countries, or a "world value" based on global viewership, but I think just American viewership is fine.

gumm said...

"China does well in swimming."

THEY CHEATED, THEM BASTARDS!!

Anonymous said...

The prestige of a sport always seem to have a high correlation with how well one's country does in them. The Chinese certainly don't see badmitten as second tier- that gold medalist is on the cover of magazines and featured in one of the biggest Olympic campaigns and the men's 110 meter hurdles thanks to Liu Xiang are about as high profile as it gets there.

The US is no different, nobody actually cares about swimming for swimming's sake- I bet less than 1% of 'fans' could even name the country where the last world championships took place.

There are a few exceptions like soccer, but we all like to see our countries do well and lose interest when that doesn't look like it's going to happen.

Matthew said...

"I'm sure that if you tried competing in Olympic racewalking, your attitude would change as soon as you collapsed in a sweaty gasping heap halfway through the race."

At the speeds Olympic racewalkers move (~10mph), it's far more biomechanically efficient to run than to walk. I walk at a pretty brisk pace, but I can't imagine maintaining anything close to 10mph for 20 or 50km.

These people are every bit as much real athletes as marathoners or swimmers.

"You're just saying that because America got pwned in Boxing this year. Sissies. Seriously though, I remember being oddly crestfallen when China won more medals than America in 2008."

America still won more medals than In 2008 China, 110 to 100. America's 2008 medal count was pretty even overall: 36 gold, 38 silver, 36 bronze. China beat us in gold 51 to 36.

Who gives a shit, though? I'd still rather live in the US than China - at least for a couple more years...

Anonymous said...

"There are a few exceptions like soccer, but we all like to see our countries do well and lose interest when that doesn't look like it's going to happen. "

and it can be a curse to do well

Anonymous said...

"Well, what is prestige and what isn't?"

The most prestigious sports are those (1) demanding the most maximum kind of athleticism and (2) greatest number of people participate.

100 m and 200 m are the most prestigious because they are open to all people around the world and require super power to win. That they are dominated by the most athletic people on the planet--West African Negroes--proves it.

Weightlifting and Wrestling could be super-prestigious sports but they are sports in which only some nations specialize in. I think lots of American and African blacks would be great at it, but they don't participate cuz not enough people care about them.

MuayTyson said...

I live in South Korea my wife is Korean. It was odd to me but the South Koreans route for the North as long as they are not in direct competition as they see them as family. I assume this is a black sheep of the family kind of idea.

Although North Korea doesn't export it's citizens it does constantly threaten and beg for food and money. They bombed a northern South Korean island a few years ago killing quiet a few people.

Anonymous said...

The coded version:

Zorgon liberals are funny... but then no different from white Schmorgon ones.

On the one hand, they try to blur the line between the sexes. Zorgon women are encouraged to be EMPOWERED and EQUAL with men while Zorgon men are raised to be wussyboys who are tho thenthitive and such.

But the very people who castrate Wonky male virility promote the primal savage ideal of the beautiful woman going with the toughest warrior women when it comes to londy babes and grack males. So, wonkish men should be more like women but wonkish women should run off to big tough muscular grackos with huge whankers.
Wonkish men need to be castrated but grack men should be worshiped for their big dicks and balls.

Same over here. Ben Kurns is like the ideal for white males. A total dweeb. He even gets all teary-eyed when his daughter reads him the Spaghettisburg Address. He's oh tho thenthitive. But he made UNFORGIVABLE GRACKNESS which celebrates a powerful gracko who beat up wonkish guys and humped a lot of wonkish ho's.

And wonkish liberal females are funny too. They tell wonkish men, 'stop acting like male chauvinist pigs and be more sensitive' but then they look at wonkish guys and roll their eyes and think, 'what a bunch of sappy dorks' and run off to grack men to enjoy sex with REAL MEN.

And Eskimos are loving it.

Anonymous said...

"The prestige of a sport always seem to have a high correlation with how well one's country does in them. The Chinese certainly don't see badmitten as second tier- that gold medalist is on the cover of magazines."

But seriously, do you think Chinese would care about badminton if they were winning in stuff like basketball and track?

It's like Sailer showing interest in plunging because that is ONE event he might win something in.

Andrew said...

Actually there was an article yesterday about Canadians getting cranky at the Olympics. The women's soccer team in particular let loose after being cheated by a shoddy female referee against the USA:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/faster-higher-angrier-canadian-athletes-speak-out-at-london-2012/article4470725/

The other point is that Canada got some heat at the Vancouver Winter Olympics over the aggressive "Own the Podium" campaign. The Canadian government put a lot of money into ensuring a good performance on home turf, and a lot of it was in goofy events like skeleton and short track speed skating. In that Olympics more than half our medals were gold, so presumably we weren't good sports then.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_Winter_Olympics_medal_table

The simple fact is that the Summer Olympics are a lower priority for Canada. It makes more sense for a country like Canada or Norway to invest its money in the Winter Olympics, as opposed to Summer Olympics which are much more competitive.

Anonymous said...

"100 m and 200 m are the most prestigious because they are open to all people around the world"

Not really. These are stadium events that require expensive artificial turf. Which is why it is africans living in nations that can afford such training that dominate it rather than those living in the poor nations of West Africa.

The olympic events that are the most affordable to practice and thus level the playing field the most are the long distance foot races that are run outside the stadium such as the steeplechase and the marathon in which poor nations like Kenya and Ethiopia do very well. All you need is running shoes to train.

Steve Sailer said...

Excuse me, it's called the Plunge for Distance. We'll never get it back in the Olympics unless we're all on the same page over what it's called.

Steve Sailer said...

My high school chemistry teacher, Larry Walker, eponymously competed for the U.S. in two walking events at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, finishing ahead of the other American walkers in both.

The fundamental problem with the event is that walking is defined in the rules as having one foot touching the ground at all times, but the natural tendency is to come off the ground as you go faster, so officials were constantly having to disqualify the leaders of the race for going too fast. It seemed pretty futile back then, and I haven't heard they've come up with a solution yet.

Anonymous said...

"Canada got some heat at the Vancouver Winter Olympics over the aggressive "Own the Podium" campaign. The Canadian government put a lot of money into ensuring a good performance on home turf, and a lot of it was in goofy events like skeleton and short track speed skating"

What Canada did in its Winter Olympics the UK has also done in its Summer Olympics. They cleverly invested heavily in less competitive events like track cycling and it has paid off handsomely: UK has won 7 of the 10 gold medals awarded.

There is a lesson here for other countries that are starving for medals, like India.

Steve Sailer said...

"Track cycling"

What's the event that looks like a 1982 Devo music video with two teams of four riders in silly helmets going around and around on opposite sides of the track?

"I'm through being cool"

Anonymous said...

It was odd to me but the South Koreans route for the North as long as they are not in direct competition as they see them as family. I assume this is a black sheep of the family kind of idea.

They're really just one country i.e. Korea. The two separate countries are artificial constructs of the Cold War.

Nanonymous said...

True - France and Kenya are really very much alike. And so are Kazakhstan and Switzerland. That table consists of nothing but flukes; totally meaningless.

Anonymous said...

They bombed a northern South Korean island a few years ago killing quiet a few people.

It wasn't just any island or under normal circumstances. It was an island with a military base and artillery installation, and it was during a military exercise by South Korea involving the island.

South Korea, alone or in tandem with the United States, carried out a military exercise part of which took place in disputed territory claimed by the North. There have been many South Korean and US-SK military exercises over the decades, some of them very large, involving up to 200,000 troops. These have taken place either in international waters, or in South Korean territory.

However, when the island was bombed, there was a live fire exercise of the marine’s howitzers on the island that coincided with a massive South Korean military exercise, which seems to have been unprecedented and involved firing into disputed waters that are claimed by the North. The North was naturally threatened by this and warned the South a number of times that they would retaliate. The warnings were ignored and the North shelled the marine base.

Anonymous said...

http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/300307-1

How fast things change. Last year, they were debating "will China take over the world?" This year, China's economy is taking a nose dive.

Anonymous said...

The current total medal count for the ex-Soviet countries combined is greater than the current US total. And the population is roughly the same.

peterike said...

It was odd to me but the South Koreans route for the North as long as they are not in direct competition as they see them as family. I assume this is a black sheep of the family kind of idea.

Well I was rooting for that bunch of white guys from I-Can't-Remember to beat our very black US basketball team, which they almost did. Blood is thicker than water and all that. In fact, in the absence of any other concerns, I always root for the white person vs. the non-white, or the whiter team on the field.

It wasn't always thus. A decade or two ago my nationalism would have triumphed, but it's not America anymore and my loyalties are more tribal now.

Anonymous said...

http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2012/aug/08/olympic-arms-race/

Anonymous said...

Just drop the whole goofy thing? Seriously, we have goofy walking as an event and not karate or pancratium?

DYork said...

Who would you rather have as a neighbor: Canada or North Korea?

Well I...I...

Canadian anti Americanism

Part Two

Matthew said...

"The current total medal count for the ex-Soviet countries combined is greater than the current US total. And the population is roughly the same."

Yes, but how many athletes total do the ex-Soviet countries have at the games compared to the US? The limit for any given sport is the same for a large country as it is for a small one. Romania gets to send as many gymnasts as China, etc.

The vagaries of fate, fortune, and chance combined with the performance ceiling (i.e., the limitations of the human body (assuming no doping)) mean that 10 reasonably advanced countries with a total population of 300 million will out-medal one country with 300 million people.

Occasionally you get the rare athlete who, with or without cheating, manages to blow all his opponents out of the water - Carl Lewis, Muchael Jordan, Michael Phelps - but that isn't usually the case.

Anonymous said...

"The current total medal count for the ex-Soviet countries combined is greater than the current US total. And the population is roughly the same."

But if they were all part of the same nation, they wouldn't have been able to send so many different athletes for the same events.

Anonymous said...

"They're really just one country i.e. Korea. The two separate countries are artificial constructs of the Cold War."

Forced to choose, I'd choose to live in the "artifical construct" known as South Korea, just as I'd choose to be a member of the "artificial construct" of the white race over the "artificial construct" of the black one.

Rain And said...

No Olympic cycle is complete without a medals per capita discussion.

http://simon.forsyth.net/olympics.html


New Zealand, Great Britain, Australia all in the top 11.

Why is America so far behind? How is our population so different.

Mexico # 70. Hmmmm.

Simon in London said...

Clearly Great Britain and South Korea should be ashamed at having so many golds. :p

Anonymous said...

Forced to choose, I'd choose to live in the "artifical construct" known as South Korea, just as I'd choose to be a member of the "artificial construct" of the white race over the "artificial construct" of the black one.

They're one nation, living under two different states, states which only formed in recent memory. Prior to them, the nation had been under one state. States are artificial constructs, but races aren't.

Anonymous said...

But if they were all part of the same nation, they wouldn't have been able to send so many different athletes for the same events.

There are other factors as well. For example, if they were all part of the same country, they would also have more resources for the athletes since the non-Russian ex-Soviet countries tend to be poorer. That could end up raising their medal count.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:"Not exactly sure how they "threaten" China since China basically bankrolls them and they're essentially a Chinese satellite."

Part of the reason why China bankrolls North Korea is to make sure that North Koreans don't start crossing the border en masse.

Syon

Simon in London said...

anon:
"Weightlifting and Wrestling could be super-prestigious sports but they are sports in which only some nations specialize in. I think lots of American and African blacks would be great at it..."

Nope. Being good at sprinting (or boxing) =/= being good at weightlifting.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of race walking, one of the champion race walkers was busted for doping. The scary thing about that, is that if doping is happening in such a lame, and inherently less athletic sport like race walking, imagine how rampant it must be in things like swimming and cycling.

Anonymous said...

Part of the reason why China bankrolls North Korea is to make sure that North Koreans don't start crossing the border en masse.

Then why don't they just build a wall or man the border with a jobs program or military?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of race walking, one of the champion race walkers was busted for doping. The scary thing about that, is that if doping is happening in such a lame, and inherently less athletic sport like race walking, imagine how rampant it must be in things like swimming and cycling.

It wasn't just any guy but the guy who won gold in the 50km race walk at Beijing. He was actually a famous athlete and had celeb status in Italy.

Anonymous said...

imagine how rampant it must be in things like swimming and cycling.

Here's an interview in Der Spiegel with one of the Olympic dealers:

http://www.boxingsocialist.com/profiles/blogs/the-olympic-dealer-interview-with-ngel-heredia

"Angel Heredia, once a doping dealer and now a chief witness for the U.S. Justice Department, talks about the powerlessness of the investigators, the motives of athletes who cheat and the drugs of the future."

"SPIEGEL: Mr. Heredia, will you watch the 100 meter final in Beijing?

Heredia: Of course. But the winner will not be clean. Not even any of the contestants will be clean.

SPIEGEL: Of eight runners ...

Heredia: ... eight will be doped.

SPIEGEL: There is no way to prove that.

Heredia: There is no doubt about it. The difference between 10.0 and 9.7 seconds is the drugs."

Anonymous said...

Race walking is like a competition for who can whisper the loudest

brendan said...

"You're just saying that because America got pwned in Boxing this year. Sissies."

No, it was really was that horrible. There was a fight between a Japanese and Azerbaijani where the Japanese kid knocked the other fighter down 6 times. The Azerbaijani fighter still won. Amateur boxing is actually making professional boxing look classy at this point.

The sad thing is that the boxing itself was good. But while you're watching it you have to keep in mind that the judging has absolutely nothing to do with the fight that you just watched or else the whole thing collapses into a joke. I watched the CNBC broadcast with Teddy Atlas, and I've never seen an olympic event where the commentators had such complete mockery and contempt for the proceedings they were covering.

FWIW, the American team's boxing was pretty mediocre from the bouts that I saw. Even the match that got overturned wasn't a blowout or anything. It's just that it didn't make a difference one way or the other since the determination of the matches was obviously completely random if not fixed outright.

brendan said...

"It's like Sailer showing interest in plunging because that is ONE event he might win something in."

I read the plunge for distance page on wikipedia, and I honestly wasn't that impressed with the sport. Supposing though that the ethos of the event could be maintained while using technology unavailable at the 1904 games to make it more entertaining for modern audiences.

Hear me out: instead of plunging for distance, the competitors would DIVE for distance, from a 10m platform. After 60 seconds, a man in scuba gear would measure the depth attained, with the deepest depth winning. Like in plunge for distance the competitors would rely solely on their own momentum and not be allowed to move under their own power at all once they hit the water and while plunging or "diving". Any competitor who could not return to the surface without assistance from the scuba team at the bottom of the pool would default on that attempt.

What makes this so superior is that the competitor actually can't breath at all while sinking for distance because he can't just turn his head to the side like he could in plunge for distance. It's still something that theoretically anyone can compete in, but you've now added the element of willpower to the event. People would watch it and think "hey, is this guy going to be able to plunge deep enough to win AND still have enough oxygen to make it to the surface?" Of course, there are modern cameras capturing the underwater views which would have been completely unavailable at the St. Louis games, and perhaps a laser light show delineating the different depths that the athlete has passed. The sport would likely become the ambient event of the summer game, like curling is in the winter olympics.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the home team (GB) should be excluded from the table. Home advantage and all that.

David said...

I don't know. Switzerland is pretty laid back and at the bottom.

There is a major difference in how we get our golds, which suggests a healthier attitude on the part of the US.

In the US, families self-select themselves into their fields, with gym coaches, family friends etc. playing a role in offering advice, etc. in terms of what they would do well at. But they are allowed to do what they will and largely self-motivate to train.

In China, kids are plucked from their families particularly from the poorer rural areas, and raised by the state to compete in specific events. They often go through grueling training to excel.

This leads to Americans excelling in a broad range of fields, but Chinese getting gold in very specific fields they specifically zoned in on.

Which would you rather live under? Is it something we should be encouraging- that to compete in these areas with China, our children have to give up having a childhood and go through grueling regimens of sweat and pain all day long every day?

Already, we see this in academia. Chinese aren't necessarily brighter, but they sure do work alot harder at their studies, particularly as children. Too much is not healthy, and may also be a significant part of why they have a higher rate of suicide and lower rates of creativity later in life.

Anonymous said...

In ancient Greece, only first counts. 2nd and 3ird places were pathetic losers.

How about making a list of no medals participation? That might be even better to promote your idea.

Anonymous said...

"New Zealand, Great Britain, Australia all in the top 11 [in medals per capita].

Why is America so far behind? How is our population so different."

Because entry slots are not given per capita.

The US may have 10 times the population as Australia, but they don't get 10 times the entrants in the, say, 100m freestyle.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:"Then why don't they just build a wall or man the border with a jobs program or military?"

Because it's simpler (and more effective) to prop-up a totalitarian regime in North Korea and have them do the job of keeping the North Koreans in North Korea for you. That way, the North Korean government gets to be the bad guy to its own people.

Syon

pat said...

I commented here recently that we should drop the Olympics. I think you may have censored that one. I'm not trying to be provocative. I think the case is clear. The Olympics are damn interesting but they are hardly a force for good.

National sports like baseball and basketball have honest officiating and plenty of good sportsmanship. International sports like the Olympics on the other hand are corrupt and corrupting.

The airwaves are filled with praise for how the Olympics promotes brotherhood and fellow feeling. Where would that be? All I hear about besides the events themselves are the cheating scandals and the petty lack of sportsmanship.

It would be easy to institute reform. First just get rid of the flags and anthems. Get rid of the labels that identify nationalities. Stop organizing teams around nationalities.

I watched China versus the US in women's beach volleyball. The telecast played up the international tension aspect and so added to that tension. Wouldn't it be better if there were teams of women in which one came from China and the other from the US?

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

"Bolt must be a cheat: Ex-doping guru"

http://www.nation.co.ke/sports/athletics/Bolt+must+be+a+cheat+Ex+doping+guru+/-/1100/1259120/-/vnvxd6/-/index.html

"Former doping guru Victor Conte has pointed the finger of suspicion at world and Olympic champion Usain Bolt of Jamaica in an interview in which he also claims that all eight 100 metre finalists at the Sydney Olympics were cheats.

Conte, the former mentor to disgraced track star Marion Jones, was the brains behind the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (Balco) which produced and supplied once-undetectable designer steroids to many top sports stars."

"“I believe that before the Balco affair, 80 per cent of athletes were using steroids, today that figure stands at about 65 percent,” Conte said in a hard-hitting interview with La Gazetta dello Sport on Thursday.

Conte said he believed the success of Jamaica’s athletes could also be attributed to dubious methods.

“At the 2001 world championships athletes from a Caribbean country, not Jamaica, told me how a doctor from their team supplied them with testosterone, EPO (erythropoietin) and other kinds of steroids.

“I know, because I went to him and he gave me EPO. The same informer tells me now that before Beijing (Olympic Games in 2008) that the Jamaicans were applying the same protocol that I created at Balco.

“I don’t have proof, but all you need to do is look at the results: I strongly suspect (Usain) Bolt, and the others (Jamaicans).”

Conte claims all eight finalists from the Sydney Olympics 100m final in 2000, won by American Maurice Greene ahead of Trinidad’s Ato Boldon and Obadele Thompson of Barbados, were also using banned products.

The other athletes were Britain’s Darren Campbell and Dwain Chambers, Ghana’s Aziz Zakari, American Jon Drummond and Kim Collins from Saint Kitts and Nevis, who went on to be crowned world champion in 2003.

“In the Sydney 100m final they were all at it (doping),” alleges Conte."

Anonymous said...

"Excuse me, it's called the Plunge for Distance. We'll never get it back in the Olympics unless we're all on the same page over what it's called." - God speed good sir.

Anonymous said...

Greeks should revive the Olympics only for themselves with only the events the ancients played. And they can give out prizes like olive oil as they did long ago.

jody said...

probably the most useful way to qualify national olympic performance is to simply just count the men's events. men care about sports and want to play them, women don't care about sports and don't want to play them, so most women's sports don't have a real field. in almost all women's sports except maybe 3 or 4 of them, the results either become random or a demonstration of the 2 or 3 nations who do want to play some particular women's sport.

sure i agree with people that most of the "sports" in the summer games are not anything which anybody plays or cares about and those medals count for nothing, but then you get into an argument about what counts and what doesn't. at least simply stripping the women out of the results is objective.

one thing me and steve talked about a few times was that if you did count only the men, then iran shoots up the list, since historically, iran prohibited women from participating in sports and never sent a single woman to any world championship in any sport. they never had a women's team in anything.

as i pointed out in the "medalball" discussion from 2 weeks ago, the economist's initial analysis led him directly into a major error. we can be sure that china performs their own version of medalball calculations, and yet...no chinese medals in wrestling. that's because wrestling is played at a much higher level than table tennis (wrestling is bigger than golf for instance and about equal to tennis and swimming at the international level) and it's going to take a major effort to actually win medals. and drugs help less in wrestling than in track and swimming.

jody said...

"100 m and 200 m are the most prestigious because they are open to all people around the world and require super power to win"

well i agree track & field is open to all the peoples of the world, it does not cost much to run a national program and you can copy what the europeans are doing as far as sports science goes, so you can get all your workouts and plans from them - which is what everybody does. nobody else produces new, original sports science or sports workout plans. half of the athletic improvement over time comes from incrementally improving training, equipment, nutrition, and medicine, all of which come from europeans.

and of course the sports drugs, which also come exclusively from them. usain bolt visits a doctor in germany every year before peaking, and it's the same with all african athletes, especially in the US. any time they have a major injury, if a european surgeon is not there to save their career, their sports playing days are over. they could never rely on other africans. the other half of improving performance over time is simply an increasing participation rate.

"That they are dominated by the most athletic people on the planet--West African Negroes--proves it."

nah. this sounds like the jon entine argument. whoever can cover 100 meters the fastest has proven they are the best athlete. can you name a great jamaican athlete in any sport other than track? and more importantly, can you name one in a sport that pays over 1 million dollars a year?

any good soccer players? how is the national jamaican soccer team? any good basketball players? baseball players? who is the highest ranked jamaican tennis player? do any jamaicans hold any major belts in boxing?

there is not much athleticism in running in a straight line on a track. it is a great demonstration of power and of course the ultimate test of foot speed. in fact, before ESPN began telling us that african basketball players in the US are the best athletes in any sport in the world and would dominate any sport they wanted (which was resoundingly disproven when the "greatest athlete in the world" could not even make it out of minor league baseball) ESPN was telling us that carl lewis was the greatest athlete of all time, using this exact argument. the jon entine argument. this was because, at the time, an american was the fastest 100 meter sprinter (an american wasn't the fastest sprinter during the 1970s and in fact not ONE american ran the 100 meters under 10 seconds for the entire decade, so the jon entine argument wasn't promoted during this time period). lewis, of course, famously could not even throw a baseball.

the decathlon guys are, obviously, the best athletes in the track & field world. the best decathlon guys run faster than almost any cornerback in the NFL, throw further than any quarterback in the NFL, and jump higher than any wide receiver in the NFL. it's an open and probably unresolvable question as to who the best athletes in the world are if we're going by sport, but it's definitely not track sprinters. they're limited. this is why there are zero good jamaican soccer players and why we all have a good laugh when usain bolt asks soccer teams for tryouts.

jody said...

"Track and field is dominated by afros, swimming by white americans, and muslims and japanese do very well in wrestling"

track is mostly dominated by africans, field is not. the jumps are split about evenly between europeans and africans and europeans utterly dominate throwing, more than the africans dominate running. africans rarely do anything in throwing.

"Weightlifting and Wrestling could be super-prestigious sports but they are sports in which only some nations specialize in. I think lots of American and African blacks would be great at it, but they don't participate cuz not enough people care about them."

olympic lifting, powerlifting, and strongman will never be prestigious. they're kind of boring, and i say that as a moderate fan of them. africans in the US are decent at strength sports, but they probably aren't going to beat the best europeans. they don't have as much advantage in peak force output as they do in power output. at the highest level, europeans are definitely just plain better at upper body force and power output, and are the best lifters, throwers, and swimmers on average, stuff which all uses the muscles of the arms.

eastern europeans and central asians utterly dominate wrestling. the americans, who run one of the best wrestling programs in the world, have been blasted out of the sport. title IX has affected their NCAA program somewhat but that's definitely only a moderate factor. american football by itself is simply not enough to explain why americans cannot compete - what position do 150 pound men play in american football? they don't. yet americans can barely medal at any weight class in wrestling.

it definitely has nothing to do with africans "not being interested". the US greco-roman team was overwhelmingly african. 7 out of 9 american wrestlers were african. yet the americans all got dominated. it looks like the only american who will medal in london is jordan burroughs,a freestyle wrestler who is also african.

in fact in senegal, gambia, and other nations in west africa, the number 2 participation and spectator sport is laamb, or senegalese wrestling. they say it's like greco-roman wrestling although when i watch it on youtube it looks more like sambo.

Simon in London said...

jody:
"no chinese medals in wrestling. that's because wrestling is played at a much higher level than table tennis"

Or because Chinese aren't particularly well-suited to wrestling? My impression is that it seems to suit mid-latitude Caucasians best - Iranians, Greeks, Armenians and such men-with-gold-chain ethnies. Much as power lifting seems to suit high-latitude Caucasians and sprinting suits West Africans.

Anonymous said...

and drugs help less in wrestling than in track and swimming.

Why would drugs help less necessarily? Presumably strength/power-to-weight ratio is very important in wrestling.

Anonymous said...

nobody else produces new, original sports science or sports workout plans.

The Tabata method of high-intensity interval training that's popular these days in training for various sports was developed by a Japanese sports med researcher.

jody said...

as far as what is the least expensive, least resource intensive sport, both soccer and boxing cost less and require less to get into that track & field. but african africans don't dominate those sports. and they're big money sports too, so there's the extra motivation of millions of dollars for success. in fact, poor eastern europeans, especially ukrainians, who make only about 4000 dollars a year on average, have good track, soccer, and boxing programs.

that's the thing which the american boxing commentators never talk about. they always attribute part of mexican and african boxing success in the US to mexicans and africans being poor and coming from dangerous cities. but eastern europeans are far poorer and come from actual war zones. nobody in the US is making 4000 dollars a year and facing machinegun fire and aircraft bombing runs like novak djokovic was when bill clinton was bombing his country at the same time djokovic was trying to become a better tennis player.

BigStraightPhil said...

anon-

"Greeks should revive the Olympics only for themselves with only the events the ancients played. And they can give out prizes like olive oil as they did long ago"

Or perhaps they could give out Euros like olive oil, as they did for the last ten years?

Hacienda said...

jody sez:

why we all have a good laugh when usain bolt asks soccer teams for tryouts.

---------------------

All? Only you, jody. In your own head and I think it's more a confused buzz than actual laughter.

Anonymous said...

"Or because Chinese aren't particularly well-suited to wrestling?"

Ummm, their racial cousins the japanese are doing very well with 3 gold medals and 2 bronze. South Korea has won a gold as well. So obviously it can't be a racial handicap.

China is the leading nation in weightlifting by the way, with 5 gold medals. North Korea is 3rd with 3 gold medals....

Anonymous said...

All? Only you, jody. In your own head and I think it's more a confused buzz than actual laughter.

There's offsides in soccer. So speed doesn't help you that much. You can't just sprint past everyone for a pass like a wide receiver in football. And he's too old to develop the skills.

This is just hype like with Jordan and baseball.

Anonymous said...

The country which used to really punch above its weight in the Olympics was East Germany.

In the 1988 Olympics, the last in which East Germany participated, it won more gold medals (37) and more overall medals (102) than did the United States (36 golds out of 94 medals). And it did it with a population of just 16 million people!

So far in the 2012 games, the unified Germany has 10 golds and 42 medals of all sorts.

Anonymous said...

Soccer is not a sport which is plays to West African strengths. To the limited extent soccer is like a race, it's a long distance race and not a sprint. Soccer is not a game in which the team with the biggest-strongest-fastest guys automatically comes out on top. Maybe that's why Americans can't wrap their heads around it as a sport. American notions of sport have become very Afro-centric.

Anonymous said...

"There's offsides in soccer. So speed doesn't help you that much. "

it's kinda awesome when it does

Anonymous said...

"Soccer is not a sport which plays to West African strengths. To the limited extent soccer is like a race, it's a long distance race and not a sprint."

Not so. Being quickest over 10 yards is pretty important, which is why black players are enormously over-represented at the top levels of UK soccer. No matter what your endurance, if you can't get the ball you're in trouble.

(Having said that, the best team in the world - Spain - is not terribly black. And the UK soccer Olympics side, where black players featured prominently, were very poor.)

Truth said...

"the decathlon guys are, obviously, the best athletes in the track & field world. the best decathlon guys run faster than almost any cornerback in the NFL, throw further than any quarterback in the NFL, and jump higher than any wide receiver in the NFL. "

Really? Then uh, stupid question here; WHY AREN'T THEY PLAYING IN THE NFL????

Anonymous said...

The WSJ has something like this that GB is winning because they also have most of the last placed finalists as well.

Peter said...

The country which used to really punch above its weight in the Olympics was East Germany.
In the 1988 Olympics, the last in which East Germany participated, it won more gold medals (37) and more overall medals (102) than did the United States (36 golds out of 94 medals). And it did it with a population of just 16 million people!


If drug testing in 1988 were as sophisticated as it is today, East Germany's medal count would have been a lot lower.

Matthew said...

"The country which used to really punch above its weight in the Olympics was East Germany. In the 1988 Olympics, the last in which East Germany participated, it won more gold medals (37) and more overall medals (102) than did the United States (36 golds out of 94 medals). And it did it with a population of just 16 million people!"

The East German Women's Olympic Team thanks you for remembering their prowess.

East Germany was guilty of serious doping, and are considered by many to have invented it.

Matthew said...

"Greeks should revive the Olympics only for themselves with only the events the ancients played. And they can give out prizes like olive oil as they did long ago"

Greeks should make the athletes perform naked, as they did in ancient times. Ratings would be phenomenal. It might pay of the entire Greek debt. They could even reclaim the "Olympic" trademark since, hell, the Greeks invented the idea.

Anonymous said...

Both the 50K and 20K men's race walk gold medalists from the 2008 Olympics have been caught doping.

The 50K gold medalist from Italy was caught just before this year's Olympics and didn't participate this year.

The 20K gold medalist was actually caught a few months before the 2008 Olympics but for some reason nothing came of it and he was allowed to compete and win the gold:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valeriy_Borchin

A week prior to the 2008 Summer Olympics, his coach Viktor Chegin admitted that Borchin and fellow Russian walker Vladimir Kanaykin had failed an out-of-competition test in April that year, testing positive for the blood-booster EPO.[6] However, he dismissed the claims, saying he had not given a positive test and he not trained with or spoken to any of the other Russian walkers. Borchin was allowed to compete and won the gold medal in the 20 km race at the Olympics.[7][8] It was not explained why Borchin was allowed to compete – in spite the admittance of a positive test by the Russian Athletics Federation, he did not received a doping ban and was allowed to keep his medal and continue racing.[9]

Anonymous said...

Race walking is actually a very intense and punishing event. The 50K is about 31 miles. Walking 31 miles at a fast pace is very difficult and physically and mentally challenging. Many of the athletes collapse and get injured or don't make it through the grueling event:

http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/track-and-field/walk-at-your-own-risk.html

Anonymous said...

Being quickest over 10 yards is pretty important, which is why black players are enormously over-represented at the top levels of UK soccer.

Enormously over-represented compared to what? The top levels of UK soccer does not draw players from the UK, but from the whole world. Even if we use a very generous definition of "black" to include all sorts of half-breeds and quarter breeds, the top levels of UK soccer are low on blacks.

Anonymous said...

The East German Women's Olympic Team thanks you for remembering their prowess.

You did realize that clip was a joke, yes?

East Germany was guilty of serious doping, and are considered by many to have invented it.

This may or may not be correct, but your link says nothing about doping.

JI said...

Or, looking at those in eight place from both the top and the bottom, who would you rather have as your neighbor - Romania (on top) or Great Britain (on bottom)?

Macrobius said...

Nice concept -- in the next iteration, I think you should normalise for the phenomenon known as 'regression towards the mean'. Countries with more medal wins should show a greater tendency towards non extreme performance -- presumably more bronzes than silvers, and more silvers than gold. Smaller countries, fielding fewer athletes, are more likely to be chance outliers.

An estimate of the *significance* of the result will, thus, vary by country.

Proof of sportmanship or non-sportsmanship should be relative to some scale or metric, setting how significant an outlier is, derived from the model restriction on the null hypothesis: that the outlier is purely due to chance. Wald's distance, since it has the shortest scale factor and the most false positives, is the least interesting metric for your purposes.

All the best -- great concept.

TWAndrews said...

The question is interesting, but I'm not sure this metric is the right way to go about assessing it.

Most countries would drastically change their position in the chart simply by moving one of their medals. Switzerland, for instance, would jump from next to last to middle of the pack if either they'd gotten silver instead of gold in either the triathlon or riding.

If you look at just teams with 10 or more total medals, (18 teams) half are within a few % of the expected value of 2/3, and about half of the rest would only require moving a single medal to be very close to the expected value.

Only a few teams are solidly outside the close range: Russia, Australia, Korea, Japan and Canada. The first four have gold count above expectation while Canada is (significantly!) below.

However, only one of the five is one I'd rather not have as a neighbor, and it's not the odd one out when it comes to ratio of gold medals to total medals.

Kai Carver said...

Olympic medal counts separating men and women:

Gold M 17 USA
Gold M 17 GBR
Gold M 17 CHN
Gold M 12 RUS
Gold M 8 KOR
Gold M 7 GER
Gold M 7 FRA
Gold M 5 ITA
Gold M 5 HUN
Gold M 4 UKR
Gold M 4 IRI
Gold M 4 CUB
Gold M 4 AUS
Gold M 3 RSA
Gold M 3 NZL
Gold M 3 KAZ
Gold M 3 JPN
Gold M 3 JAM
Gold M 2 PRK
Gold M 2 POL
Gold M 2 NED
Gold M 2 KEN
Gold M 2 DEN
Gold M 2 CZE
Gold M 2 CRO
Gold M 2 AZE
Gold M 1 VEN
Gold M 1 UZB
Gold M 1 UGA
Gold M 1 TUR
Gold M 1 TUN
Gold M 1 TRI
Gold M 1 SWE
Gold M 1 ROU
Gold M 1 NOR
Gold M 1 MEX
Gold M 1 LAT
Gold M 1 GRN
Gold M 1 GEO
Gold M 1 ESP
Gold M 1 DOM
Gold M 1 BRA
Gold M 1 BLR
Gold M 1 BAH
Gold M 1 ARG
Gold M 1 ALG

Gold W 29 USA
Gold W 20 CHN
Gold W 12 RUS
Gold W 9 GBR
Gold W 5 KOR
Gold W 4 NED
Gold W 4 KAZ
Gold W 4 JPN
Gold W 4 FRA
Gold W 3 ITA
Gold W 3 HUN
Gold W 3 ETH
Gold W 3 AUS
Gold W 2 UKR
Gold W 2 PRK
Gold W 2 NZL
Gold W 2 LTU
Gold W 2 GER
Gold W 2 ESP
Gold W 2 CZE
Gold W 2 BRA
Gold W 1 TUR
Gold W 1 SUI
Gold W 1 SRB
Gold W 1 SLO
Gold W 1 ROU
Gold W 1 NOR
Gold W 1 JAM
Gold W 1 IRL
Gold W 1 CUB
Gold W 1 CRO
Gold W 1 COL
Gold W 1 CAN
Gold W 1 BLR

All M 45 USA
All M 39 GBR
All M 38 RUS
All M 36 CHN
All M 27 GER
All M 21 KOR
All M 21 JPN
All M 20 ITA
All M 19 FRA
All M 15 AUS
All M 12 IRI
All M 11 HUN
All M 11 CUB
All M 11 BRA
All M 10 UKR
All M 9 CAN
All M 8 AZE
All M 7 NZL
All M 7 KEN
All M 7 KAZ
All M 7 JAM
All M 7 GEO
All M 7 DEN
All M 6 SWE
All M 6 ESP
All M 5 POL
All M 5 NED
All M 5 CZE
All M 4 UZB
All M 4 TRI
All M 4 RSA
All M 4 MGL
All M 4 IND
All M 4 CRO
All M 4 COL
All M 3 SLO
All M 3 ROU
All M 3 PRK
All M 3 NOR
All M 3 LTU
All M 3 IRL
All M 3 BLR
All M 3 ARG
All M 2 TUR
All M 2 TUN
All M 2 SVK
All M 2 SUI
All M 2 SRB
All M 2 QAT
All M 2 PUR
All M 2 MEX
All M 2 LAT
All M 2 INA
All M 2 ETH
All M 2 EST
All M 2 EGY
All M 2 DOM
All M 2 ARM
All M 1 VEN
All M 1 UGA
All M 1 THA
All M 1 POR
All M 1 MDA
All M 1 MAS
All M 1 MAR
All M 1 KUW
All M 1 GUA
All M 1 GRN
All M 1 GRE
All M 1 GAB
All M 1 FIN
All M 1 CYP
All M 1 BUL
All M 1 BOT
All M 1 BEL
All M 1 BAH
All M 1 ALG
All M 1 AFG

All W 58 USA
All W 49 CHN
All W 44 RUS
All W 20 GBR
All W 20 AUS
All W 17 JPN
All W 15 FRA
All W 13 GER
All W 11 UKR
All W 11 NED
All W 11 ESP
All W 9 CAN
All W 9 BLR
All W 8 ITA
All W 7 KOR
All W 6 ROU
All W 6 KAZ
All W 6 HUN
All W 6 BRA
All W 5 POL
All W 5 NZL
All W 5 MEX
All W 5 JAM
All W 5 ETH
All W 5 CZE
All W 4 KEN
All W 4 COL
All W 3 TUR
All W 3 PRK
All W 3 CUB
All W 2 TPE
All W 2 THA
All W 2 SVK
All W 2 SRB
All W 2 SIN
All W 2 RSA
All W 2 LTU
All W 2 IND
All W 2 FIN
All W 2 CRO
All W 2 BEL
All W 2 AZE
All W 1 TUN
All W 1 TJK
All W 1 SWE
All W 1 SUI
All W 1 SLO
All W 1 NOR
All W 1 MNE
All W 1 MGL
All W 1 MDA
All W 1 MAS
All W 1 IRL
All W 1 HKG
All W 1 GRE
All W 1 DEN
All W 1 BUL
All W 1 BRN
All W 1 ARM
All W 1 ARG

From raw data here: http://projects.wsj.com/olympics2012/london-medal-count/js/fullResults.json

Kai Carver said...

so the male 2012 Olympics were actually a three-way tie between USA, China, and Great Britain (counting only gold medals)

Kai Carver said...

and what's that IRI country in 11th position for both male medal counts? Islamic Republic of Iran. No female medals though.

Anonymous said...

National sports like baseball and basketball have honest officiating and plenty of good sportsmanship.

I have never heard of the Yankees nor Roger Clemens and the name Tim Donaghy means nothing to me.