Full medal analysis: London 2012

And here is the eagerly anticipated analysis of the medals won in London’s 2012 Olympic Games. It comes after a similar analysis following Beijing’s Games in 2008.

The USA topped the table with 46 golds, 29 silvers and 29 bronzes (104), followed by China (38G, 27S, 32B (88)) and Great Britain (29G, 17S, 19B (65)). Russia, South Korea, Germany, France, Italy and Hungary occupied the next spots, with Australia rounding out the top ten (7G, 16S, 12B (35)).

In Beijing, Russia took third place with 23 golds to Great Britain’s 19.

If medal winning was entirely random across the globe, then Great Britain would expect to win 8.6 medals (compared to the 65 it won), the USA 43 (it won 104) and China 185 (it won only 88).

If, as is the case for NBC, a medal is a medal is a medal, then Russia would replace Great Britain in third spot, with 82 medals over Great Britain’s 65, and Germany (44) would hop past South Korea (28) and France (34). Indeed Australia would leap to seventh. So let’s not do that, shall we?

In total, 85 of the 204 participating nations went home with a medal.

If you allow for countries’ populations, then Grenada won by a country mile, with 95 medals per 10m population, followed by Jamaica (44), Trinidad & Tobago (30), New Zealand (29), the Bahamas (28) and Slovenia (19). Great Britain came 23rd (10.4), USA 49th (3.3) and China 74th of the 85 medalling countries with 0.65. (Chinese Taipei, in 69th, beat China with 0.86, as did Hong Kong (62nd with 1.4).) India bring up the rear (of the medal-winning nations), with 0.04 medals per 10m population.

Top spot in 2008 went to the Bahamas with 60 medals per 10m population.

Looking solely at the larger nations (populations over 10m), Australia in 2012 was the most successful nation (15 medals per 10m), followed by Cuba (12.4), the Netherlands (12.0) and Great Britain (10.4).

If Yorkshire were a country, and medals won by teams with one or more people from Yorkshire counted for the county, then it would be eighth in the actual medals table (9G, 1S, 2B), ahead of Italy, Hungary and Australia. It won 30 medals per 10m population, fourth on this ranking, behind Trinidad & Tobago.

In sitting down sports, Great Britain romped home (18G, 9S, 7B), ahead of Germany (8G, 8S, 5B), Australia (5G, 7S, 5B), New Zealand (5G, 2S, 5B) and France (3G, 4S, 1B). We fare less well in sports that require standing up.

In purely men’s events, Great Britain tied both China and the USA on golds (17 apiece), and leapfrogged China into second place, taking 17G, 9S, 13B to China’s 17G, 8S, 11B. In women’s events, Great Britain drop to fourth (9G, 6S, 5B) below Russia (12G, 17S, 15B). In mixed events, we top the table (3G, 2S, 1B) over Germany (2G, 1S, 1B), China (1G, 1S) and Switzerland/Belarus (1G).

And of the countries boasting medals in the double figures, Kazakhstan had the highest gold percentage (54%) followed by Hungary (47%), South Korea (46%), New Zealand (46%) and Great Britain (45%). The USA (44%) and China (43%) came next, but Canada converted a mere 6% of its medals to gold (that’s one out of 18 medals). Since Belarus were stripped of their women’s shot put gold, their percentage drops to 17%.

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2 Responses to “Full medal analysis: London 2012”

  1. Peter on March 30th, 2013 22:38


    This was obviously written a while ago but I am interested to know how what you used as the population figure for each country.

    With the increase in overseas workers (e.g. more French in London than in the 5th largest city in France); using population rather than nationality figures can potentially introduce a significant bias to the calculation.

    many people who are resident in the UK (and who are therefore counted in the population figures) do not qualify as British nationals and therefore cannot compete for Team GB. Indeed it may be the case that certain foreign national Olympic athletes are UK resident – should we count their medals as well?


  2. Dan on April 1st, 2013 09:19

    I used countries’ populations. I was aware of the issue over nationality vs. population, but I think it is a small issue. E.g. the world’s “British” population is 65.6m (Wikipedia), compared to a UK population of 62.6m.

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