Giant on the move
Who’s top of the medals table?
Americans looking at the medals table to the right of this blog, or on the official Games website, might be surprised to see the host country topping the chart with 39 gold medals and 68 in total.
The New York Times website, meanwhile, has the United States on top with a chart-leading 73 medals in total, 23 of them gold.
We at Reuters rank nations by the number of golds. It’s the way the IOC does it and, according to Reuters sports editor Paul Radford, it’s the way that makes most sense.
Here’s what Paul had to say when I asked him about it:
Reuters serves international clients across the whole world and most of them want their medals tables prioritised by gold medals. It seems that it is mainly North America which takes a different attitude and where the total number of medals is the criterion used.
I can’t see the logic of the total medals system at all. That means giving the same value to a bronze medal as you would to a gold. If you look at the expression on athletes’ faces as they just finish second or third, it’s often one of disappointment that they did not get gold and the chance to call themselves Olympic champions; it’s less often delight at being a silver or bronze medallist unless they started as rank outsiders.
Some people say the silver medallist is the first of the losers. I think that’s a bit harsh personally but you can take the point. Look at it another way. If Michael Phelps had won six golds and two silvers, would anyone have described that as a greater achievement than Mark Spitz’s seven-gold medal haul? The answer is clearly not.
So we’ll stick to the logical order of running our table in gold medals order. If that puts China first and the United States second, then so be it. Our aim is to be objective and favour no nation above any other.
Do you agree? Let us know in the comments.
PHOTO: A combination photo shows Michael Phelps of the U.S. holding each of his eight gold medals in the swimming competition at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. REUTERS/Staff