Rob Wood

Rob's Sports, Fitness & Science Blog

Entries Tagged as 'olympics'

Rio Medal Predictions Change Over Time

May 18th, 2016 · No Comments · Olympic Games

Wouldn’t it be great to know the results before the Olympic Games start? For the London Olympics in 2012 I made a prediction for the final medal tally. It was mostly based on my own guesswork, and surprisingly was not too far wrong in the end. For the Rio Games, I predict that the USA will again win the most medals, a pretty safe bet, but not based on any specialist knowledge or special formula. However, I prefer to rely on those a little more knowledgeable to predict the results.

There are plenty of people making predictions about the upcoming Rio Olympics. There are two main categories of medal count predictions. One way to predict the final medal tally is from scholars using economics and a range of factors to base their predictions. The other is to use actual competition results leading up to the Olympics to predict the specific winners of each event. After the London Games, I compared some of these predictions to the final medal count, and predictions using both of these methods were quite accurate.

It seems more logical to base the predictions on actual sports results, and we would assume that the most recent results would be the best indicators. The company Gracenote (was Infostrada) sports regularly update their predictions based on sporting results from around the world. The graphs below show how their predictions have changed over the last year for the top three countries. While the predictions of the actual number of medals has varied, the order has not changed – the USA is predicted to win both the most medals and most golds.

predicted gold

The most recent medal predictions, made with 100 days to go, show the USA pulling away from China and Russia on the table above. A factor that has not been considered is that Russian athletes may still be banned from attending the Games, which would put a large dent in their medal count.

predicted total

I will continue to monitor the changes in these predictions leading up to the Games, and afterwards I will again compare these predictions to the actual results. So far I am feeling pretty confident about my prediction of the USA leading the medal count, it will be a big upset if they don’t.

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Unusual Ways To Carry The Olympic Games Torch

July 29th, 2013 · No Comments · Olympic Games

torch-relay-runEach Olympic Games torch relay begins with a torch being lit by the sun’s rays at the ancient site of Olympia, after which it is passed by torch from person to person all the way to the Olympic stadium in the host city. The torch relay tradition started in 1936 and this is one of the few times where just runners have carried it all of the way (it also happened in 1948 and 1980).

Recent Olympic torch relays have been a competition to see which host can have the most bizarre transport method. I have come up with a  large list of alternative transport types for the torch. Some of the more unusual transportation types include space ships and along a zip wire. In 1976 the flame was sent by radio signal between Greece and Canada and in 2000 it went underwater at the Great Barrier Reef. For the Sochi Games the Russians are taking it into space again. It will be interesting to see where else it goes, and also what the Rio organisers can come up with. Any suggestions?

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My Olympic Gold Medal Predictions

July 27th, 2012 · 5 Comments · Olympic Games

Olympic Games MedalsWith the Olympic Games starting now, I feel like it is time for me to make my predictions for the final medal tally. It seems like  everyone else is doing it. I have discussed a few prediction models on this site that use science and results from recent competitions. My prediction is based on something a little less scientific, my gut feeling and reflection, so don’t place too much emphasis on it. It will be interesting to see how my list performs compared to the other predictions, only time and a bit of number crunching will tell.

Here is my final top 10 predictions for gold medals won:

  1. 40 USA
  2. 33 China
  3. 26 Great Britain
  4.  24 Russia
  5. 15 Germany
  6. 11 Japan
  7. 10 Australia
  8. 10 Italy
  9. 9 France
  10. 8 South Korea
UPDATE: Now that the Olympics are over, it is time to score how well my predictions were. I got the first four in order. The only country I did not predict to make the top 10 was Hungary, which finished 9th on the official table with 8 golds, pushing Japan outside the top 10. How accurate were these predictions? Using my analysis method comparing the top five actual to the predicted medals for those countries, I achieved an percentage accuracy score of 85%, only just below the best by Goldman Sachs (87%), out of all the medal predictions for 2012.
my order prediction predicted medals actual position actual golds
1 USA 40 1 46
2 China 33 2 38
3 Great Britain 26 3 29
4 Russia 24 4 24
5 Germany 15 6 11
6 Japan 11 11 7
7 Australia 10 10 7
8 Italy 10 8 8
9 France 9 7 11
10 South Korea 8 5 13

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Women’s Equality at the Olympic Games

April 1st, 2012 · 2 Comments · Olympic Games

1900 Olympic Games PosterI recently wrote about  Women Olympic Games Pioneers in which I discussed some of the early women participants at the Olympics, and the slow move to equality in women’s participation at the Olympic Games. There has been some great moves towards creating the opportunity for women to compete in the same sports as the men, with the inclusion of women’s boxing now completing the set so there are women’s events in all sports on the program. This is a great thing, but the reality is that there are huge barriers for women to even compete in any sport in some countries of the world, let alone the Olympic Games.

Up until now, three Muslim countries have never before sent a female athlete to compete at the Olympics: Qatar, Brunei, and Saudi Arabia. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Charter clearly promotes equality: “The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practising sport, without discrimination of any kind.” However, the IOC seems to be doing very little to support the women competitors from these countries.

Each of these countries have made comments that suggest there may be sending some female participants to London, but we will have to wait and see. If Qatar are serious about their bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics, they need to send a clear message to the IOC, as it seems the IOC is not sending any clear messages back at them.

Related Pages: women at the OlympicsFirst Female Olympic Medalist

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Women Olympic Games Pioneers

March 21st, 2012 · No Comments · Olympic Games

helene pourtales first olympic medalistWith the addition of women’s boxing to the Olympics for 2012, all sports on the program now have events for women. However, women have had a long road to equality at the Olympics. There are some interesting stories and little known facts about early female participation in the Olympic Games.

The Ancient Olympic Games was limited to males athletes only, and they had to be free and Greek speaking too, with only male spectators allowed as the athletes participated in the nude! The only way women were able to take part was to enter horses in the equestrian events. There are records of several winning women horse owners. As the owner of the horse teams, they were credited with the victory, though they were most likely not present at the events.

Following on from the Ancient Olympics, women were also not invited to the first edition of the modern Olympic Games in 1896. Women participated for the first time at the 1900 Paris Games with the inclusion of women’s events in lawn tennis and golf. There were also three French women competing in croquet and there was at least one woman sailor as part of mixed crews.

It is commonly believed that first woman to win an Olympic event was England’s Charlotte Cooper, who won the tennis singles title and also the mixed doubles event. However, a month or two earlier Swiss sailor Hélène de Pourtalès won a gold medal as part of a team in the 1-2 ton Olympic sailing event. Charlotte Cooper is clearly the first woman Olympic champion, as winner of the women’s tennis singles tournament, though Hélène de Pourtalès should be rightly heralded as the first woman to compete at the Olympics and the first female Olympic gold medalist.

 

Related Pages: women at the OlympicsFirst Female Olympic Medalist

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Little Known Olympic Games Countries

March 19th, 2012 · No Comments · Olympic Games

You would be surprised about some of the countries that have once participated at the Olympic Games. Regions such as Saarland and Bohemia participated at previous Games, but no longer exist independently. The Saar existed from 1947 to 1956 in part of Western Germany that was occupied by France, and only competed at one Olympics in 1952 before joining Germany. Bohemia athletes competed at the Olympic Games between 1900-1912. After World War I, Bohemia became part of the new Czechoslovakia, which itself lasted until 1993 when it split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Then there are short lived unions, such as The United Arab Republic which was made up of Egypt and Syria, and the West Indies Federation, a combined team from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados. Both of these teams competed at the Olympics only once, in 1960.

What about athletes with no team – athletes from Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia competed as Independent Olympic Participants in 1992, and athletes from East Timor competed as Individual Olympic Athletes at the 2000 Summer Olympics. Also, after the break up of the Soviet Union, the independent states competed under the banner of The Unified Team at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.

I wonder which teams competing in 2012 in London will one day join this list of past teams. Border disputes and wars will continue, and the countries of the world will continue to evolve. But, no matter what, most athletes will have a country to compete for, even though the names may change.

Related Pages: all Olympic Participating Countries, past participating countries

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Fast Dollars for Fast Food

October 2nd, 2008 · No Comments · Olympic Games, Sports Nutrition, Track & Field

Nathan Deeks, an Australian Champion race walker, appeared in a full page color advertisement for the fast food restaurant McDonalds, saying that he eats ‘Maccas’ after his events, including at the Olympic Games. I know that he was probably only trying to earn a few sponsorship bucks in return from all the effort he puts into his training, but as a sporting role model it was such a disgusting thing to promote eating undoubtedly unhealthy food. I don’t mind that he had the occasional fast food snack, but it is not right for an athlete representing Australia to say it so publicly. It does not say much about the dietitians at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) if one of their athletes comes out of there with this attitude that this is OK to do. A few days later, a very similar looking ad was published (obviously on purpose), with an ex- Australian Olympian and NBA star Luc Longley, promoting healthy eating, saying that he never considered eating junk food before or after competing. The ad was a welcome response to the McDonalds one, which needed to be done, but I don’t think enough ho-ha was made of it. The government spends millions of dollars trying to address the problem of childhood obesity, including trying to get more people active and into sports, and also millions are spent on the AIS getting athletes including Nathan Deeks properly prepared for the Olympic Games. I don’t think he has done his long time supporter (AIS) any good and hopefully he got into trouble, all for a small financial reward.

Related Pages: Summer Olympic Games
see more about sports nutrition

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Norman Black Power

October 9th, 2006 · No Comments · Olympic Games, Track & Field

Australian sprinter Peter Norman recently passed away. His silver medal in the 200m at the Mexico Olympics in 1968 is still the best performance by an Australian male sprinter. Norman ran 20.06 seconds, which is still an Australian record. Despite his great performances, he is not a well known sportsman in Australia. However, many people have seen a photo of him receiving his Olympic medal, as he was part of one of the classic Olympic Games controversies. Norman came second behind American Tommie Smith, and in front of John Carlos also from the USA. Smith and Carlos were African Americans, and made their black power salute, raising their fists with black gloves on. All three athletes wore human rights badges, with Norman showing his support for their cause.

Related Pages: Mexico 1968, Summer Olympic Games, Australia at the Olympics

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