Thursday, August 21, 2008

Jamaica Wins the Olympics!


I went through and ran this again with the final numbers. Basically, Jamaica kicked ass.

Yes, I'm still avoiding the Democratic convention.

The Chinese government put concerted and massive effort into winning the most (gold) medals during the Beijing games, and it paid off. Chinese athletes won 100 total medals, 51 of them gold. US athletes won 110 total medals, 36 gold. China finished first in the gold medal race, the US second. In the total medal count, China & the US flipped positions.

By simple measurements, the usual suspects did quite well for the summer Olympics. The top five nations by total medal count were: USA (110), China (100), Russia (72), Great Britain (47), and Australia (46). By weighted medal count (in which a gold medal equals 3 points, a silver 2, and a bronze 1), that doesn't change much: China (223), US (220), Russia (139), Great Britain (98), and Australia (89).

But I'm less interested in which nation won the most medals than which nation did the best with what it has.

First, population. Among the top thirty medal-winning nations (actually thirty-one due to a tie) the top five nations by per capita medal count were: Jamaica (4.07 medals per million people), Australia (2.15), Cuba (2.12), New Zealand (2.09), and Norway (2.08). The US was 25th out of thirty-one with 0.36, and China was dead last with .08.

Next, wealth. Among the same thirty-one nations, the top five medal winners were: Jamaica (1,100 medals per US$1 trillion GDP), Cuba (480), Kenya (467), Belarus (380), and Ethiopia (368). China was 17th (30), and the US was 29th (9).

To measure both wealth and population, I set up a formula by which the richest country (the US) got a wealth value of 1.0, and all the other countries got lower values based on their percentage of the US' GDP. I did the same with population, and then I divided each country's total medals by the sum of its wealth value and population value. The resulting quotient is to me the ultimate measure of doing the best you can with you've got:
1) Jamaica--3,983
2) Cuba--1,976
3) Belarus--1,737
4) Azerbaijan--804
5) New Zealand--711
6) Kazakhstan--689
7) Ukraine--601
8) Hungary--565
9) Australia--561
10) Slovakia--507
(By this formula, the US's score of 89 ranked 26th, and China's 81 ranked 28th.)

Unsurprisingly, John McCain's house count becomes less impressive if one adjusts for wealth.

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