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BEIJING 2008 : COMMENTARY

Bahamas takes the crown in medals per capita

August 25, 2008|Chuck Culpepper | Special to The Times

Just as England once lived under the Tudor, China once lived under the Ming and the American League East once lived under the Torre, we earthlings live under a dynasty these days.

It's a benevolent dynasty, the Bahamas dynasty -- its people do let us come visit their islands and serve us drinks with tiny umbrellas sticking out of them -- until it comes to the quadrennial test known as the Olympics, when they fluster the rest of us again.

The rest of the world tried everything to overthrow the Athens 2004 kings and queens in the crucial, telltale medals per capita ranking. We sent our Australia, runner-up in Athens with its population of only 20,600,856 and its vast collection of studs and studesses. We proposed Armenia, wrestling and weightlifting with the best from a population shy of 3 million.

We offered Slovenia, No. 5 in Athens, and we sent in Jamaica, No. 6 in Athens with its bolting Bolt and other track prowess, and we tried New Zealand, hearty archipelago, and as it concluded we even summoned Iceland with its 304,367 population and its gaudy handball team.

We just couldn't get to the Bahamas' MPC score of 153,725 -- one medal for every 153,725 Bahamians -- forged by medals in the triple jump and men's 1,600-meter relay. We couldn't stave off the three-peat, what with some connoisseurs of long division having figured the Bahamas the medals per capita winner in Sydney 2000 as well.

The ancient and misguided medals table claimed either China or the United States won the Olympics, depending on who does the miscounting, but we recognize arithmetical propaganda when we see it.

We know that although 110 medals or 100 medals can disappear into the U.S. or China with their tactically unwise populations, there are so many medals per person in Australia that it's practically a fashion accessory, that 47 medals for 60 million Britons constitutes a paradigm shift given Britain's recent sporting history, and that two medals in the wee Bahamas doth an empire make.

Medals per capita minutiae from Sunday's final day:

* The United States, 40th out of 70 countries in Athens with 103 medals and an MPC rating of 2,844,928, wound up 46th out of 87 with a better rating of 2,762,042. It really does supply hope for the future, just imagining how a gutty little overmatched MPC country might continue to make slight strides, like maybe if it goes rummaging around that pool in Baltimore for another giant fish-boy.

* Jamaica went from five medals and No. 6 in Athens to 11 medals and No. 2 in Beijing, while Cuba went from 27 and No. 3 to 24 and No. 8, while Trinidad and Tobago logged in at No. 11, which all goes to show that if you seek victory -- just as with the former Soviet republics -- you don't want to go messin' around down there in those islands. Sure, they look all sanguine and relaxing and everything, but that's just part of the lull.

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The Olympic winners, by population

The mainstream media continue to laud China for its advance to the fore in the Olympics, and although that's part of being good guests, it also overlooks a medals per capita rating of 68. Although that's not bad for any country with 1,330,044,605 people, it's certainly a far cry from the Bahamas or Jamaica or Iceland. In parentheses is the number of medals won, followed by the country's per-capita score.

THE TOP 25:

1. Bahamas (2) ... 153,725

2. Jamaica (11) ... 254,939

3. Iceland (1) ... 304,367

4. Slovenia (5) ... 401,542

5. Australia (46) ... 447,844

6. New Zealand (9) ... 463,717

7. Norway (10) ... 464,445

8. Cuba (24) ... 475,998

9. Armenia (6) ... 494,764

10. Belarus (19) ... 509,777

11. Trinidad and Tobago (2) ... 523,683

12. Estonia (2) ... 653,802

13. Lithuania (5) ... 713,041

14. Bahrain (1) ... 718,306

15. Latvia (3) ... 748,474

16. Mongolia (4) ... 749,020

17. Georgia (6) ... 771,806

18. Denmark (7) ... 783,531

19. Slovakia (6) ... 874,124

20. Croatia (5) ... 898,284

21. Hungary (10) ... 993,091

22. The Netherlands (16) ... 1,040,332

23. Azerbaijan (7) ... 1,168,245

24. Kazakhstan (12) ... 1,180,041

25. Switzerland (6) ... 1,263,586

SELECTED OTHERS FROM 87 NATIONS WITH MEDALS:

26. Mauritius (1) ... 1,274,189

27. Britain (47) ... 1,296,678

29. Ireland (3) ... 1,385,373

31. South Korea (31) ... 1,588,156

32. France (40) ... 1,601,444

36. Canada (18) ... 1,845,149

37. Russia (72) ... 1,954,195

38. Germany (41) ... 2,009,013

39. Italy (28) ... 2,076,618

40. Spain (18) ... 2,247,282

46. United States (110) ... 2,762,042

57. Japan (25) ... 5,091,536

61. Togo (1) ... 5,858,673

67. Brazil (15) ... 12,793,906

68. China (100) ... 13,300,446

86. Vietnam (1) ... 86,116,559

87. India (3) ... 382,665,299

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