Monday, August 13th, 2012

Australia’s Olympic Golds

I don’t know why there are Australians who are disappointed at the number of gold medals that Australians achieved in the 2012 London olympics. The seven golds that were achieved raised Australia’s average number of gold medals per games to 5.2 (and the average is only that high because of the four games where Australia achieved counts in double figures – the average apart from those four is only 3.7).

What needs to be recognised and which some people overlook is that there are a number of factors in how many gold medals a country is likely to win with the population of the country relative to other countries perhaps being the biggest factor. On a population basis Australia equalled Great Britain, did almost twice as well as the USA and did ten times as well as China. Chance also plays a part since many of the top athletes are now so closely matched that in manu cases anyone taking part in the final could potentially win the gold. With seven billion people in the world there is nothing to be ashamed of in ranking second or fourth.

Perhaps more significant than the number of gold medals achieved is the number of athletes who achieved a result above their expectations- particularly those who achieved a personal best. The 400 metre runner who came last in the final after twice exceeding his personal best just to get there is perhaps one of the highest achievements of an Australian during the games.

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