olympics

Martin Stabe

Iran's weightlifters Behdad Salimikordasiabi and Sajjad Anoushiravani took gold and silver in the men's +105kg

As expected, the US and China topped the conventional Olympic medal tables (however you chose to sort them). But by merely achieving the expected, the sporting superpowers appear much farther down the FT’s weighted medal table, which ranks countries by how much they exceeded pre-Games expectations.

Our table benchmarked nations performance against macroeconomic factors known to affect Olympic performance, such as GDP and population.

Great Britain’s 29 gold medals and 65 overall was enough for third place on the FT table as well as the conventional table – an impressive feat given the handicap our methodology imposed on it by taking into account the host-nation advantage.  Here’s a look at some of the other nations that can leave London extremely happy, having greatly exceeded expectations. Some of them may surprise you. Read more

Martin Stabe

This scatterplot below shows how nations’ actual medal performance at London 2012 compares to the economic models used to construct the FT medal table, along with some of the underlying factors used by the models, such  GDP, population and performance at Beijing in 2008.

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Martin Stabe

How does Great Britain’s haul of 65 medals, including 29 golds, compare to other recent host nations’ performance?

There can be little doubt that greater recent investment in elite sports is the main cause of  Great Britain’s impressive performance at these Olympics an uptick in performance compared with Beijing 2008 would have been expected regardless, because of a well-documented “host-nation effect” that sees the home team performed significantly better than it usually does. Read more

Chris Cook

When Usain Bolt, not a naturally modest man, thanks you for your help after clinching his umpteenth gold medal, you have probably done something right. Brunel and Birmingham universities won his praise for their help in preparing and hosting the Jamaican team.

Other universities can claim to have done rather well. I quite liked this exchange on Twitter between William Hague, foreign secretary, and Patrick McGhee, vice-chancellor of the University of East London (which is hosting the US Olympic team).

But on to the medals! Here, courtesy of Podium, the body representing universities and colleges at the London Olympics, is the roster showing which institutions have done best at the sports. If you look on their site, you can see the full list.

For institutions, this table does actually matter: as I wrote last week, universities are an increasingly important spine of Team GB’s infrastructure.

UPDATE – 22:30, 14 August: The Podium list is correct, but it only includes conventional universities and colleges. However, the Open University won two golds and three bronzes. I’ve not included it in the table – some OU athletes are already booked as the undergraduate alumni of other universities, and this could get messy. But, bear in mind, if the OU were entered in it and credited with all of them, it would be in sixth place.

Institution Gold Silver Bronze Total
University of Edinburgh 3 0 0 3
University of Nottingham 2 2 1 5
University of Oxford 2 2 1 5
University of Cambridge 2 1 2 5
University of Reading 2 1 1 4
St Mary’s University College 2 0 1 3
University of St Andrews 2 0 0 2
University of Bristol 1 2 2 5
University of Bath 1 2 0 3
Peter Symonds College 1 1 1 3
Hopwood Hall College 1 1 0 2
Northumbria University 1 1 0 2
Staffordshire University 1 1 0 2
University of the West of England 1 1 0 2
University of Leeds 1 0 2 3
King’s College London 1 0 1 2
Barton Peveril Sixth Form College 1 0 0 1
Bournemouth University 1 0 0 1
Bradford College 1 0 0 1
Cardiff Metropolitan University 1 0 0
Durham University 1 0 0 1
Kingston University 1 0 0 1
Leeds Metropolitan University 1 0 0 1
University of Sheffield 1 0 0 1
University College London 0 3 0 3

What to make of this table? Here are also some important things to note – and I hope they’ll help illuminate some of the nonsense about sport and education in England that has been swirling around lately: Read more

Emily Cadman

Whilst ancedotes about Olympic fever are two a penny at the moment, do we actually have any evidence about how interested people are? Well these power demand charts, courtesy of the National Grid, perhaps offer one rough and ready way of looking at how engaged the stay at home audience has been at key points.

Firstly, of all the highest TV audience to date – the opening ceremony. The annotations on the charts are from analysts at the National Grid.

The pink line shows electricity demand for the equivalent Friday a year ago, and the blue line the actual demand during the opening ceremony – which drew an average of 22.4m viewers, the highest since 1998, and a peak audience at 9.45pm of 26.9m. Read more

Martin Stabe

We launched the FT’s economically-weighted medal table on Sunday night.

Rather than ranking the table in the conventional format – gold medals followed, where equal, by silver medals and finally bronze medals – we are ranking counties by their performance against a benchmark developed from four economic models. These predict success on the basis of socioeconomic factors that have been shown to contribute to Olympic performance historically.

Even on our weighted measure, China leads with its 12 medals, representing 4.6 more than would be expected at this stage of the games. Italy’s seven medals place its over-achievement to date hundredths of a percentage point behind. Great Britain, by contrast, is near the foot of our table, underachieving by 2.8 medals so far. Read more

The Olympics are finally here and the web is awash with interactive graphics and visualisations.

Here are the ones it’s worth taking a second look at:

Dressed for a world record?
This is a must-view for swimming fans. The invention of slick, hi-tech bodysuits enabled a series of world records to be broken, but since the suits were banned in 2010 few records have been beaten. The Washington Post looks at the evolution of Olympic swimwear and tracks this against world records in each swimming discipline. Read more

Martin Stabe

Over the next two weeks, the Olympic “medal table”, ranking nations according to the number of gold, silver and bronze medals their athletes have collected in London will be widely reported.

But there will be few surprises: The United States, China and Russia will almost certainly top the table, followed by the smaller wealthy countries. Great Britain will most likely fare better than usual, because the host nation usually does.

Population, GDP per capita, past performance and “home advantage” appear to have a strong relationship to nations’ Olympic success, a common-sense observation that has long been demonstrated by social science.

Substantial academic literature, stretching back to the 1950s, has been produced by economists, sociologists and political scientists using statistical techniques to relate nations’ macroeconomic conditions to their Olympic performance, and forecasting upcoming games.

Typically, these take the form of regression analyses that use historical macroeconomic data as independent variables to account for participating countries’ medal share at the Olympics.

During the London games, the FT will use three four such models as a benchmark to rank our medal table according to teams’ ability to outperform models that account for their size, wealth and other socioeconomic factors: Read more

Calculating the economic impact of the Olympics is a Herculean task with different meanings for different authors. At its most basic, some try to estimate the effect on national output of staging the games and building the venues. More sophisticated studies attempt a proper economic cost-benefit analysis, in which the costs and benefits of building the infrastructure are measured as well as the costs and benefits of hosting the event. For London 2012, a sophisticated analysis has proved beyond most researchers.

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