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Realistic Medal Expectations

In the 2006 winter Olympics Cindy Klassen won 6 medals. We, in Canada, were rightfully quite proud of her. But I remember an athlete from another country questioning why we were so proud of her for winning 6 medals, but only 1 gold.

This got me thinking about our current Olympic performance. I am proud we have as many medals as we do at this point. We’re not really a summer Olympic country. Our specialty is the winter Olympics. I’m just happy we have medals, of any colour. But what should we realistically be expecting?

We’re a small country. The population of Canada is just slightly less than the greater Tokyo area! I think we do pretty well considering our tiny population base. In fact I would say we are overachieving.

So I decided to do a little research and break it down to the numbers. Based on our population and nominal GDP, what should our medal expectations be?

Country

Population (mil.)

GDP

(tril.) *

Medal Count as of August 1st

China

1,337

7.300

30

USA

313

15.09

29

Japan

126

5.869

17

France

65

2.776

13

Germany

81

3.577

13

South Korea

48

1.116

12

Russia

138

1.850

11

Italy

61

2.199

9

Great Britain

62

2.418

9

Australia

21

1.488

9

Ukraine

45

0.165

6

Romania

22

0.1899

6

Canada

34

1.737

6

North Korea

24

0.028

5

 

 

 

 

*GDP based on CIA statistics

 

 

If we look strictly at the numbers, we are definitely overachieving. Looking at it another way, the top countries are underachieving. Comparing us to our big brother to the south, as we love to do, we should have about one tenth of their medals based on population or GDP. Taking this one step further, China should have about 39 times as many medals as Canada, based on population. The numbers are here for you to decide for yourself. Are we doing well?

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