Giant on the move
China assured of first place in medals table
There’s been a lively discussion, here and elsewhere, about which version of the medals table is a better way of ranking countries’ achievements at the Olympics.
Reuters goes with the “gold standard”, if you like, which has put China out in front almost from the start. Other, mainly American outlets go with the “total number of medals” tally that puts the U.S. on top.
It’s been interesting to hear so many different points of view, and suggestions for different, weighted systems of formatting the table (see the original piece here).
A lot of people like the idea of different points for gold, silver and bronze, while I’ve enjoyed the notion of combining that weighting system with a per capita bias. That was suggested to me by Greg Stutchbury, a colleague from New Zealand, and it worked out that top of the medals table would be New Zealand. Strange, that.
Still, we’re sticking with the gold standard and on that basis I can tell you that China are now assured of first place. Greg has done the maths and as of this morning the U.S. can no longer catch the hosts. There are still enough medals up for grabs, but the U.S. are not in contention in enough of the events to make up the ground (see the table to the right of this page for the up-to-date tally).
So congratulations China. It is a mighty achievement, given that they did not win a single Olympic gold medal until 1984. It just shows what a massive population and absolute dedication to a goal can achieve.
PHOTO: Zhang Yining of China kisses her gold medal after defeating compatriot Wang Nan in the women’s singles table tennis final at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 22, 2008. REUTERS/Joe Chan