Eight years ago, following some debate at the time, I did some analysis of the medal tally from the Athens Olympics to determine the greatest sporting nation of the 2004 Olympics. Well, I’ve had some time on my hands during these Olympics (due to my recent knee surgery) and I’ve done the same calculations for the London 2012 Olympics.
- Gold Medal – 5.36g of Au, 370g of Ag, 24.64g of Cu
- Silver Medal – 370g of Ag, 30g of Cu
- Bronze Medal – 388g of Cu, 10g of Zi, 2g of Sn
Then, applying these breakdowns to the market values3 of metals on the international market at the time of the Olympics, we’re able to calculate the value of each of the medal. Giving:
- Gold – US$605.89
- Silver – US$329.52
- Bronze – US$2.88
As was the case 8 years ago, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) appears to be the best indicator to a nations success at the Olympics. The correlation between the nations medal haul value and GDP4 is much higher than the correlation between medal haul value and population5, evident by just looking at the Top 10 of the Official Medal Tally:
|Rank||Nation||Rank (GDP)||Rank (Pop)|
Now it would be possible to manipulate the statistics in numerous ways to get whatever result we desire, as The Age proved already… but we’re really interested in finding out which country was the greatest at the London 2012 Olympics… so as we did in 2004, we look at Value of the medal haul as a percentage of the nation’s GDP, and then we normalise it to that of the USA (USA selected again b/c they once again topped the traditional tally) to come up with the “Better Than USA Factor” (BTUSAF) Tally.
So, here it is, the 2012 Olympic BTUSAF standings:
|BTUSAF Rank||Official Rank||Nation||BTUSAF|
|21||47||Trinidad and Tobago||11.60|
So… once again, the title of best sporting nation at an Olympics (factoring for medal value on the International Metal Exchange and GDP) goes to a Caribbean nation, this time Grenada, thanks to it’s first ever Olympic medal and it’s tiny GDP. Jamaica up to 2nd from 3rd in 2004. Cuba, 1st eight years ago is now down in 10th.
Australia’s showing is a dismal 40th, a far cry from it’s 15th in 2004. This could be put down to the fewer golds this time round, but also a factor is the stronger economy. Guess we can’t have everything.
- 400g source: http://www.coinweek.com/bullion-report/olympic-medals-are-still-made-of-precious-metal-but-contain-less-gold/ [↩]
- Available at http://www.coinweek.com/bullion-report/olympic-medals-are-still-made-of-precious-metal-but-contain-less-gold/ [↩]
- Source http://www.wolframalpha.com/ Date: 5th of August 2012 [↩]
- 0.8196 using Excel’s correlation function [↩]
- 0.4678 using Excel’s correlation function [↩]