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New Zealand second best performer at Olympics

Tuesday August 13, 2012
New Zealand second best performer at Olympics

With a haul of 13 medals, New Zealand has outperformed the best predictions of the world’s number crunchers by a massive 162.5 per cent, according to a Massey University economics lecturer.

Dr Michael Naylor, from the School of Economics and Finance, has compiled a table of Olympic medal performance by combining the predictions of the four leading mathematical models used for this purpose. Between them the models include factors like population, per capita income, and financial support for athletes.

“In the least week New Zealanders have been intensely interested in New Zealand’s relative Olympic medal performance, especially how we have done comparatively to other countries,” says Dr Naylor. “My calculations show that New Zealand outperformed what we could relatively expect to achieve by over 160 per cent, and we were second best in the world.”

Only Iran, with 12 medals, exceeded expectations by an even greater degree. However, New Zealand beat the performance of countries like Jamaica, Great Britain, China, and the United States. Our trans-Tasman neighbours, after a disappointing Olympics campaign, ranked just 26th.

Dr Naylor says he averaged the predictions of the most accurate models used to predict Olympic medals to formulate his table.

“The models of Andrew Bernard from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and Daniel Johnson of Colorado College have proved to be uncannily accurate – above 95 per cent,” he explains. “The Bernard model uses an equal weighting of population and GDP, then adds in a host country effect and the country’s performance in previous Olympic Games.

“The Johnson Model uses those factors proportionally weighted, as well as neighbouring country and country specific factors. Factors like climate and being communist have been shown to now be insignificant.”

To the Bernard and Johnson models, Dr Naylor also added the more recent studies by Goldman Sachs and PricewaterhouseCoppers, which used a wide range of metrics. His results appear in the table below.

OLYMPIC MEDAL PREDICTIONS

   ProportionalTotal Medal Predictions 
RankCountryActual PerformanceBernardJohnsonPWCGoldmanAverage
1Iran12300.0% 5 34
2New Zealand13162.5%777118
3Jamaica12141.2%6711109
4Hungary17138.8%819111112
5Japan38138.2%2531282628
6Denmark9135.0%677 7
7Great Britain65132.7%6245543549
8Kazakhstan13121.9%10 91311
9Netherlands20119.4%1519161717
10Russia82112.7%6782687473
11Sweden8106.7% 9 68
12Canada18104.3%1817151917
13China87100.0%94678710087
14Spain17100.0%1813181917
15US10498.3%10399113108106
16Italy2898.2%2631273029
17Germany4497.2%3960414145
18South Korea2896.6%2929273129
19Brazil1795.8%1523151818
20Romania990.0%61411910
21Kenya1189.8%1012131412
22Poland1088.9%914101211
23France3488.3%3937374139
24Ethiopia787.5% 8 88
25Ukraine2084.5%23 212724
26Australia3583.3%4238424642
27Belarus1381.3%15 141916
28Cuba1471.8%19 20 20
29Belgium360.0% 5  5
30Turkey557.7%8810 9
31Switzerland457.1%66 97
32Argentina457.1%  777
33Czech Rep457.1% 7 77
34Norway448.5%887108
35Greece226.7% 78 8
36Bulgaria221.1% 127 10
 Total top 35813      
         
 Other Countries145      
 Total Medals958      

ENDS

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