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Medal Tables - Quantity Or Quality


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I know this is a discussion that has been had many times over. However, I was wondering how your nation ranks the Olympic Medal table.

In UK and Australia we rank them by greatest number of Golds, as opposed to quantity of medals overall. Yet in the United States, they rank their medal tables the opposite way. Is America the only country to rank medals like this.

How does your country rank the medal table?

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As far as I am aware it's only the US that counts the total medals won for the positions on the table.

It seems strange to me that Phelps wouldn't have been judged any different if he'd been awarded three silvers and five bronzes - Golds should be worth more than other medals. It should be called the jack of all trades master of none medals table.

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As far as I am aware it's only the US that counts the total medals won for the positions on the table.

As does the IOC on their web page.

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As far as I am aware it's only the US that counts the total medals won for the positions on the table.

It seems strange to me that Phelps wouldn't have been judged any different if he'd been awarded three silvers and five bronzes - Golds should be worth more than other medals. It should be called the jack of all trades master of none medals table.

Yeah, but should 5 silvers be considered less of an achievement than 1 gold?

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As does the IOC on their web page.

Really? So far, I've only found medal tables sorted by the number of gold medals on the IOC website. Such as this one:

http://www.olympic.org/uk/games/past/table...1&OLGY=2004

It also has the explanation beneath:

The medal tables by country are based on the number of medals won, with gold medals taking priority over silver and bronze. A team victory counts as one medal.
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Really? So far, I've only found medal tables sorted by the number of gold medals on the IOC website. Such as this one:

My bad - your right. I only looked about partway down which is how the total medal count actually came out. Should have looked further.

Anyway, both methods have their merits.

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Just a suggestion:

If you want to get an overview about the sport situation in the different countries a medal table with the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th places will be more detailed and therewith more significant due you are able to see if the medals are based on a "larger basis"...

Edited by Citius Altius Fortius
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The problem is countries like Jamaica, Kenya, Ethiopia that specialize in 1 sport being high up on the medal table compared to countries like Canada, Spain where they do well in a variety of sports. Which is better Jamaica's 3 gold and 3 silver performance (assuming Bolt wins gold in the 200m) or Canada's 2G, 6S, 5B performance? How shows the more sporting accomplishment.

Also look at Norway, they won 6 medals in Athens, 5 gold and 1 bronze while in Sydney Norway won 4,3,3. Which do you think Norwegians would have been more happy with, 1 more gold and 4 less medals or 1 less gold and 4 more medals?

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The US agencies do that just because that's how they always do it. Not really out of any particular disregard. It certainly makes it easier for news agencies, not having to sit down with a big honking list and sort them out gold/silver/bronze. Of course with programs like Excel its much easier nowadays, but the running totals of medals collectively has always stuck. I have never seen a medal table ranking otherwise until Athens when I started to be more familiar with the Canadian and IOC media itself. My reaction was pretty confusing in contrast to those who see the US medals table. "Gee. What a way to make the people who come in second and third feel even CRAPPIER. Shiny is shiny!" :P

Also, 74 countries in Athens won at least one medal, and Beijing is already up to 79 and guaranteed to go to 80 because Nigeria is in the soccer final! Not only that but the gold medals are more spread out this time around too. I think that's great how the growth of medal winning nations is steadily higher than the growth of new NOCs in general. A lot of hope for the future.

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Yeah, but should 5 silvers be considered less of an achievement than 1 gold?

Yes - because one athlete who is better than everyone else should be considered more of an achiever than people who were second best.

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The problem is countries like Jamaica, Kenya, Ethiopia that specialize in 1 sport being high up on the medal table compared to countries like Canada, Spain where they do well in a variety of sports. Which is better Jamaica's 3 gold and 3 silver performance (assuming Bolt wins gold in the 200m) or Canada's 2G, 6S, 5B performance? How shows the more sporting accomplishment.

Also look at Norway, they won 6 medals in Athens, 5 gold and 1 bronze while in Sydney Norway won 4,3,3. Which do you think Norwegians would have been more happy with, 1 more gold and 4 less medals or 1 less gold and 4 more medals?

The medals table today...

CHN 44 14 19

USA 26 26 27

.... which is the greater achievement? In my opinion it's China's - at the moment they have 18 more athletes who were better than anyone else - The US only has more athletes who were second or third best. China may well have beaten many of these American athletes in second or third place but because of the same weight of each of the medals the US is placed ahead of China.

It is surely better to be the best than second best.

Perhaps the medals should equal different points G=3, S=2 and B=1 - if one country has one gold and another has a bronze and a silver it is the country with one gold that is placed ahead in the medals table. If this was the case today China would finish top of the table with 179 points and the US would have achieved 157 points. Russia would be in third with 85 ahead of Britain with 78 points.

Edited by Stu
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The medals table today...

CHN 44 14 19

USA 26 26 27

.... which is the greater achievement? In my opinion it's China's - at the moment they have 18 more athletes who were better than anyone else - The US only has more athletes who were second or third best. China may well have beaten many of these American athletes in second or third place but because of the same weight of each of the medals the US is placed ahead of China.

It is surely better to be the best than second best.

Perhaps the medals should equal different points G=3, S=2 and B=1 - if one country has one gold and another has a bronze and a silver it is the country with one gold that is placed ahead in the medals table. If this was the case today China would finish top of the table with 179 points and the US would have achieved 157 points. Russia would be in third with 85 ahead of Britain with 78 points.

Sure, that may make sense with the top countries, but like what Faster said, it doesn't quite make sense with countries with fewer medals.

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