Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Why We Actually Won The Olympics

Before this year, I'd never watched so much as one minute of an Olympic event. Not even China's opening ceremony last time (I have a phobia of fireworks). I am an incredibly competitive person, and the idea of watching a massive competition into which I'm not even entered, really holds no interest to me. Who cares what happens? The bottom line is, I'm not coming home with a shiny medal around my neck.

But then I went to spend a week in the house of a family who were interested in the Olympics, and (this is important) actually had television (we stopped buying our TV licence several years ago as our favourite shows only air in Japan anyway). I didn't have much else to do that week, no longer being a fifteen minute walk from a city centre (and hence, shops) so I found myself watching the Olympics A LOT. And I found myself enjoying it. I finally got it: sure, I wasn't going to win anything, but my country would, and in a way, me and my country are one and the same. I suddenly understood what Nick Hornby was on about in Fever Pitch (OK, I never actually read it, because, I enjoyed About A Boy and all, but seriously, a book entirely about football?) and I felt that I was Team GB. It was a great feeling.

And then we didn't win.

Those of you who know me well know that I don't particularly enjoy not winning. Please note this only applies to competitions I deem worthy: me always failing to win at Laser Quest, Mario Kart, and anything that involves Geography does not bother me in the slightest. Because they're stupid. But the Olympics was something I wanted to win, something I thought I was really good at (by me, I mean Team GB of course). I wasn't going to let stupid countries like China and the USA beat me. It's not fair: they already have crazy cheap designer clothes and fifty flavours of Pop Tarts, why do they have to have this too?!?

Naturally I did what I always do when I am told I have not won. I set about moving the goalposts, scouring the rule book, and  examining the data to try and find a way that means I actually won. But whichever way you count the medals, we were not higher than third place.

Rank by GoldCountry GoldSilverBronzeTotal
1
United States of AmericaUnited States of America
462929104
2
People's Republic of ChinaPeople's Republic of China
38272388
3
Great BritainGreat Britain
29171965

There was only one thing I could do: "To the math cave!!"

I'm sure that anyone who is even slightly mathematically minded automatically saw a problem with the scoring system. I don't mean the fact that it's all done on the number of Golds and not on a 5-3-1 system, because we still wouldn't win then. I'm sure that when most people looked at the scoreboard, their first thought was "Well of course those two countries are winning, they're absolutely massive". China and the USA are well known as having huge populations, along with India, Brazil and Indonesia (interesting point: this is probably the one geographical fact that I actually know without having to look it up. Maths teachers from my Academy will know why). Is it really fair that we are being compared to countries with 5 or even 21 times more people than us? (I had to look that up). If we randomly divided the USA into five pieces, and selected the best athletes from each piece, would they still be the best? And if we cut China into 21 pieces? I don't think so.

So, here comes the maths: I have created a table of the competing countries, and their number of golds per 10 million people. This is like doing population density (urgh, there is way too much geography in this post) but instead it's gold density. Except out of the number of people, not the area of land. Hmm. OK.

 
Country Golds Population (10 millions to 3sf) G/10mill (2 dp)
USA 46 31.5 1.46
China 38 135 0.28
Great Britain 29 6.23 4.65



As you can see, we're actually 3 times better than the USA, and loads better than China. So, we actually should have w... Wait a minute. What?!?! Looking further down the list I can see some pretty disturbing numbers. I'd better give you the whole table. This is it ordered by golds:

 
Country Golds Population (10 millions to 3sf) G/10mill (2 dp)
USA 46 31.5 1.46
China 38 135 0.28
Great Britain 29 6.23 4.65
Russia 24 14.3 1.68
North Korea 13 2.46 5.28
France 11 6.54 1.68
Germany 11 8.19 1.34
Hungary 8 0.996 8.03
Italy 8 6.08 1.32
Kazakhstan 7 1.68 4.17
Australia 7 2.27 3.08
Japan 7 12.8 0.55
New Zealand 6 0.443 13.54
Netherlands 6 1.68 3.57
Ukraine 6 4.56 1.32
Cuba 5 1.12 4.46
Jamaica 4 0.271 14.76
Czech Republic 4 1.05 3.81
South Korea 4 5 0.80
Iran 4 7.51 0.53
Croatia 3 0.429 6.99
Spain 3 4.62 0.65
South Africa 3 5.06 0.59
Ethiopia 3 8.43 0.36
Brazil 3 19.2 0.16
Lithuania 2 0.319 6.27
Norway 2 0.503 3.98
Denmark 2 0.558 3.58
Switzerland 2 0.795 2.52
Azerbaijan 2 0.924 2.16
Belarus 2 0.946 2.11
Romania 2 1.9 1.05
Poland 2 3.85 0.52
Kenya 2 4.27 0.47
Turkey 2 7.47 0.27
Grenada 1 0.0105 95.24
Bahamas 1 0.035 28.57
Trinidad and Tobego 1 0.132 7.58
Slovenia 1 0.206 4.85
Latvia 1 0.207 4.83
Georgia 1 0.45 2.22
Ireland 1 0.459 2.18
Serbia 1 0.712 1.40
Dominican Republic 1 0.945 1.06
Sweden 1 0.951 1.05
Tunisia 1 1.07 0.93
Venezuela 1 2.72 0.37
Uzbekistan 1 2.91 0.34
Uganda 1 3.29 0.30
Canada 1 3.49 0.29
Algeria 1 3.71 0.27
Argentina 1 4.01 0.25
Colombia 1 4.67 0.21
Mexico 1 11.2 0.09


And this is it ordered by gold density:

 
Country Golds Population (10 millions to 3sf) G/10mill (2 dp)
Grenada 1 0.0105 95.24
Bahamas 1 0.035 28.57
Jamaica 4 0.271 14.76
New Zealand 6 0.443 13.54
Hungary 8 0.996 8.03
Trinidad and Tobego 1 0.132 7.58
Croatia 3 0.429 6.99
Lithuania 2 0.319 6.27
North Korea 13 2.46 5.28
Slovenia 1 0.206 4.85
Latvia 1 0.207 4.83
Great Britain 29 6.23 4.65
Cuba 5 1.12 4.46
Kazakhstan 7 1.68 4.17
Norway 2 0.503 3.98
Czech Republic 4 1.05 3.81
Denmark 2 0.558 3.58
Netherlands 6 1.68 3.57
Australia 7 2.27 3.08
Switzerland 2 0.795 2.52
Georgia 1 0.45 2.22
Ireland 1 0.459 2.18
Azerbaijan 2 0.924 2.16
Belarus 2 0.946 2.11
France 11 6.54 1.68
Russia 24 14.3 1.68
USA 46 31.5 1.46
Serbia 1 0.712 1.40
Germany 11 8.19 1.34
Italy 8 6.08 1.32
Ukraine 6 4.56 1.32
Dominican Republic 1 0.945 1.06
Romania 2 1.9 1.05
Sweden 1 0.951 1.05
Tunisia 1 1.07 0.93
South Korea 4 5 0.80
Spain 3 4.62 0.65
South Africa 3 5.06 0.59
Japan 7 12.8 0.55
Iran 4 7.51 0.53
Poland 2 3.85 0.52
Kenya 2 4.27 0.47
Venezuela 1 2.72 0.37
Ethiopia 3 8.43 0.36
Uzbekistan 1 2.91 0.34
Uganda 1 3.29 0.30
Canada 1 3.49 0.29
China 38 135 0.28
Algeria 1 3.71 0.27
Turkey 2 7.47 0.27
Argentina 1 4.01 0.25
Colombia 1 4.67 0.21
Brazil 3 19.2 0.16
Mexico 1 11.2 0.09





So Grenada (a country I'm not even sure I've heard of) has stormed the league table with a whopping 95, making our 4.7 look pretty pathetic. We don't even make the top ten! Random places like Lithuania and Slovenia (who?) have done well, and places that I'm sure only exist for people to take holidays in have managed to come second and third!

I was really hoping that maths would prove we won the Olympics. I suppose this is why I should work out all the data BEFORE writing a blog post. It's not my fault: how was I supposed to know that our little Island actually has a lot of people on it? I felt so sure we were one of the smallest countries. I mean, we only have two types of Skittles over here! Big countries have at least five (including the sour ones, mmmm)! I am outraged.

And before anyone mentions it: the failure of this post has absolutely nothing to do with my lack of geographical knowledge.

The Point of This Post

This post has been a cluster-fudge of poor formatting and lazy researching, so you probably want the payoff now. Well here it is: whatever country you're in, think about doing the following activity at the start of the new term. Announce to the class: "I don't know what you've heard on TV, but Grenada actually won the Olympics". They'll be like, what? Show some pictures of the beautiful country of Grenada, and pictures of, uh...  *googles* nutmeg and mace and the uh... Grenada dove. Then, with or without giving them any extra information or instructions, but giving them access to the internet, get them to find out why Grenada actually won. I'm sure that intelligent pupils will be able to work it out, and you can give them lots of hints if need be. Extension: get them to prove that another country actually won the Olympics (e.g. by looking at the number of golds per GDP or something).

If you're worried the kids will google and find this blog and get the answer from here, fear not. As if any teenager is going to read through this long, dull piece! I'm surprised you've got this far, to be frank.

My Final Conclusion


That last bout of googling I did to find out the main exports and national bird of Grenada revealed something interesting to me: Grenada is a Commonwealth country. Do you know what that means? Yep, it's owned by Queen Elizabeth. Who? Yep, the Queen of England. So technically, technically, we won the Olympics. I knew it!!!

Emma x x x






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