Shortcutting… The Medal Count

31 Jul

How to present the Olympic Games ‘Medal Count‘? It is a conundrum that must be tackled by every country separately. Because, of course, every country wants to twist it to make their own result seem as good as possible. How can such straightforward facts be twisted?, one might ask. Well, the trick lies in the ranking. For there are two ways to rank countries: by total number of medals, or total number of gold medals followed by silver followed by bronze. I think the latter is the standard way, yet I remember seeing four years ago during the Beijing Olympics that the USA ranked medal hauls by the former method: total number of medals. Putting them above China. Coincidence? I think not. I know if I was in charge, that’s what I’d do. Unfortunately, team GB is doing pretty badly in both, so any sort of twisting wouldn’t have much effect, but interestingly we rank countries with the giving-gold-the-highest-weighting method, even though if we did it the other way we’d be doing better. I reckon the powers that be have taken a gamble here and bet that, come the finals of rowing, cycling and sailing events, we’ll manage to score a few golds, enough that the gold-weighting method is more beneficial to us. It’s all part of a cunning plan. But for now, we may console ourselves with the knowledge that we are doing the best out of the countries that haven’t won any golds. An almost-famous ranking that is somehow very British. We’re good at coming fourth too.

So, is there anything else to learn from the Medal Count? While leaders China and the USA are fairly predictable, both countries having been good at everything for quite a long time now, looking just beneath these two makes for more interesting speculation. Last Olympics, we had Russia in third place, Great Britain in fourth (Woo! Almost on the podium!) , and Germany in fifth. This year, as things stand, we have France in third, South Korea in fourth, and North Korea in fifth. Then again, things are all pretty neck and neck so far. We’ve only had four days, after all. The top twenty are all within three golds of each other, which, given the number of events remaining, means that there’s everything to play for (to come third, that is). I’ll keep you updated (on my views and speculation – of course you’ll be avidly watching the rankings without my help).

But anyway, it’s not the winning that counts but the taking part, right? We’re all winners really…

Keep shortcutting,

Zoe

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