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Tiny nations lead alternative medal count

Published Aug 07, 2012 07:15am


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Gold medallist Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand holds up his national flag after the Men's Single Sculls Final event. -Photo by Reuters

WELLINGTON: Forget about the Olympic medal race between the United States and China. The real action is happening in places like Jamaica, New Zealand and the tiny island nation of Grenada.    

At least that's according to one method for crunching the numbers that's being promoted by a New Zealand government agency. Since last Thursday, Statistics New Zealand has been posting daily online updates of its “medal strike rate” _ the number of gold medals won relative to each country's population.

On the traditional medal table, China finished ahead after 10 days of competition with 31 golds, while the US was running a close second with 29.    But factor in population, and the US drops to a middle-of-the-pack 23rd, winning one gold medal for every 11 million residents.

China, the world's most populous nation, drops to 36th, with one gold for every 43 million. Among larger nations, Olympic hosts Britain leads, with its 18 golds representing one for every 3.4 million residents.

Many small countries fare even better. New Zealand, population 4.4 million, won three gold medals in rowing, propelling it to the top of the medal-strike table over the weekend.

Then Usain Bolt's spectacular win in the 100 meters put Jamaica on top, with its two golds representing one for every 1.4 million residents.

And then came Grenada. A sensational run Monday by 19-year-old Kirani James in the 400 meters final gave the country its first-ever gold medal and a seemingly unassailable lead on the medal-strike table: one gold for every 109,000 residents (the country's entire population).

Jo-Anne Skinner, a project manager at Statistics New Zealand, said the alternative rankings have been getting tens of thousands of online hits and have helped generate pride in the country's Olympic achievements.

“It allows some of the smaller nations to have their day in the sun,” she said.

It's also generating interest in statistics, she said, with some local academics picking up on the analysis as a teaching tool.

Asked by The Associated Press about the analysis this week, New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key joked that he'd be happy to grant residency to Usain Bolt if it would help move New Zealand past Jamaica on the list.

One country that may not want to look at the analysis is India. It hasn't won any golds yet, but its one silver and two bronzes represent just one medal of any type for every 400 million countrymen.


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Comments (14) Closed

don Aug 07, 2012 08:06am
how many has Indian 1.1 billions won?
Richard Aug 07, 2012 01:57pm
On this basis Yorkshire - if it was a country - would come out on top. It has a population around 4 million and five golds!
poko Aug 07, 2012 01:16pm
such a poor comparison by DAWN what about resources spend by govt per person .......! you have to check how costly one gold medal of developed country's vs developing country...! then you can see who is better...!
bib Aug 07, 2012 12:15pm
how about pak and how can you comment on india?
Take_it_easy Aug 07, 2012 03:00pm
This is an AP story - probably __not__ written by a Pakistani. You can see exactly the same story elsewhere, for example:
ZQ1 Aug 07, 2012 05:33pm
Bib, take a chill pill. This is a news from foreign press (Reuters) which has been reprinted world over.
Hamood Aug 07, 2012 06:10pm
bib, This is an AP report not a Pakistani report...and Pakistan still has a better "medal strike rate" than India in the Olympics. India is at the bottom of this table.
Shabut Aug 07, 2012 06:25pm
Simple answer, Pathetic.
manoj Aug 07, 2012 09:52pm
pak is not in the race b'coz they r not going to win any medal as usual
Haider Aug 08, 2012 02:12am
LOL! Pakistan is even worse. No medals in the past 20 years, 5 Olympics.! lol
sam Aug 08, 2012 05:37am
Last paragraph was epic. Article missed Pakistan, but no chance of missing India in such articles.
arf Aug 08, 2012 06:21am
Pakistan needs to win to be able to get into the news item !!!
sam Aug 08, 2012 07:37am
The way this guy has written the article as if Pakistan has won medals, hypocrisy at its best!!!
Robin Aug 13, 2012 01:26am
"Pakistan has better Medal Strike rate" .. ???? Really? India has 6 medals. Pak has 0. Even if India is at one medal per 200million, Its still better than Pakistan's Strike rate of 0 for ~300 million. just thought i'd give you a stats lesson seeing how your country's education has failed you.