The Olympics Medal Count – Data Analysis

Medal CountI’ve always thought it was silly that we tally Olympic gold medals by country, with no adjustment to account for each nation’s population.  Is it fair to compare the more than 300 million people who live in the United States of America with, for example, tiny little Grenada, with a population barely over 100,000?  It stands to reason that larger countries, on average, will produce more gold medal contenders than smaller countries, it’s just the simple law of probability.

So I was about to do the research and compile a “medals per capita by country” chart, when I found that someone else beat me to it.  Here’s the URL:

That’s the website of Simon Forsyth.  Simon’s nice enough to include links on his webpage to the websites of other people also named Simon Forsyth, which is cool in and of itself.  But I digress.

Simon has compiled a list of medal results, current as of August 7 (it says August 8 at 4:30 AM, and at the time I’m writing this, it’s 2:30 PM of August 7 on the U.S. east coast, so I have no idea how he did this in the future.)

Here’s a highlight of Simon’s chart listing at the time of this writing, listing nations according to their medal-count PER CAPITA:

1. Grenada
2. New Zealand
3. Jamaica
4. Slovenia
5. Croatia

8. Great Britain

24. United States of America

34. People’s Republic of China

That’s a very different story than the typical chart we’re currently seeing in the news, a chart that shows China and the U.S. battling it out for first place.  Both China and the U.S. have enormous populations, one should expect that these nations would top the medal counts.  But in reality, for its population – China is doing terribly, the U.S. is faring a bit better.  And smaller nations like Croatia and Slovenia have a lot to be proud of.  And Grenada should be absolutely giddy – and reportedly is.

See the rest at Simon Forsyth’s website.

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