No Dynasties at Summer Olympics

The Summer Olympic games are more competitive than ever. Gone are the days of a country’s domination in the gold medal count. In the history of the games, the most dominant performance came in the St. Louis games of 1904 at the end of which Americans had won gold in 77 of 95 events – a staggering 81%. Only 9 other countries medaled in those games. Talk about a home court advantage.

The second most dominant performance came during the 1908 London games where the Brits took home 56 gold medals in 110 events – 51%. Athletes from only 19 countries earned medals.

The third most dominant performance came in the LA games of 1932, when Americans won 41gold medals in 116 events – 35%.

Since the 30’s, only the USA in 1948 and the USSR in 1960 came any where close to dominating, each earning 28% of the golds awarded.

While the host country China won the gold stakes in Beijing, they only pulled in 17% of the total awarded, not exactly domination, but the most dominant performance from a nation since the 1992 games in Barcelona, when the United States also earned 17% of the gold.

That aside, clearly the Summer Olympic games are more competitive than ever before. Athletes from more countries are competing in more events. In the Athens games of 1896, there were 43 events; in the 2008 Beijing games there were 302 golds awarded. And more countries medaled in Beijing, 87, than in any previous games.

Team competitions have been more competitive as well. The USA men’s basketball team did win in Beijing, but as the redeem team; the dream team days are over. Spain gave team USA a run for their money. The world has not yet caught up to the USA women’s basketball team, but will in time, as the game becomes more widely played.

With the exception of table tennis and diving (China), track and field events – relays and 400m are two examples (USA), there are no clear dynasties. After a stunning loss to Japan, even the USA women’s softball team can no longer be considered invincible.

I leave you with this: Can Great Britain repeat their 1908 feat in 2012? The home court advantage is powerful!

*stats compiled from:


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