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Most of you (unless you've really had your head in the sand for the past two weeks) will have seen the Olympic Medal Table. This shows which countries did the best, based on how many gold medals they won (although the Americans use a different table based on total medals regardless of colour, for no apparent reason).

Many of you will also have seen articles like this one http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/blogs/londonspy/olympic-medal-per-capita-table-125300447.html which show a medals-per-capita ranking. Here's the medals per capita table, showing Grenada (population 110,821, one gold medal) coming out on top. Well done Grenada.

Total medals top 10

Rank Country Medals Population Population
per Medal
1 Grenada 1 110,821 110,821
2 Jamaica 10 2,705,827 270,582
3 Bahamas 1 353,658 353,658
4 New Zealand 12 4,432,620 369,385
5 Slovenia 4 2,057,540 514,385
6 Denmark 9 5,580,516 620,057
7 Trinidad and Tobago 2 1,317,714 658,857
8 Estonia 2 1,318,005 659,002
9 Hungary 15 9,962,000 664,133
10 Mongolia 4 2,736,800 684,200

But is that the full story? What the medals per capita table fails to take into account is that some 'national' teams include other states too small to have their own teams. So 'Team GB' was not just the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland but also a number of small, very small and tiny crown dependencies with their own legal systems and governments. In the Commonwealth Games, these dependencies generally enter their own teams, but not so in the Olympics. Mark Cavendish, who failed to win a medal in the cycling road race, is from the Isle of Man.

Now when I tell you that Carl Hester, who won gold in the team dressage, is from Sark (population 600), we might have to reconsider that medals-per-capita table. (Although I'll accept that this was a team event and the other two members of the team were both English.) I've been to Sark a couple of times. Pretty little island. Cars are banned.




( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 14th, 2012 12:46 pm (UTC)
On the other hand, Carl Hester has lived in the South of England since he was 19, pays taxes and votes here.
Aug. 14th, 2012 01:42 pm (UTC)
Is "medals per capita" based on geography or on other factors?
Aug. 14th, 2012 05:12 pm (UTC)
Per capita simply means based on population.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )