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Who's the Best?

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Which countries have the most naturally athletic populations?

Below, we have provided the London 2012 Olympics medal table.

What other information do you think should be taken into account to answer this question fairly?
 
Make a plan of the information you will collect and the calculations you will perform. Then carry out your plan to decide which countries are naturally most athletic.
 
Send us your top-rated countries, together with your justification for the data and criteria you chose to include in your analysis.
 
In the London 2012 Olympics the final medal table was as follows (spreadsheet CSV form)
 

 
Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
United States 46 28 29 103
China 38 28 22 88
Great Britain 29 17 19 65
Russia 24 25 32 81
South Korea 13 8 7 28
Germany 11 19 14 44
France 11 11 12 34
Italy 8 9 11 28
Hungary 8 4 6 18
Australia 7 16 12 35
Japan 7 14 17 38
Kazakhstan 7 1 5 13
Netherlands 6 6 8 20
Ukraine 6 5 9 20
New Zealand 6 2 5 13
Cuba 5 3 7 15
Iran 4 5 3 12
Jamaica 4 4 4 12
Czech Republic 4 3 3 10
North Korea 4 0 2 6
Spain 3 10 4 17
Brazil 3 5 9 17
South Africa 3 2 1 6
Ethiopia 3 1 3 7
Croatia 3 1 2 6
Belarus 2 5 5 12
Romania 2 5 2 9
Kenya 2 4 5 11
Denmark 2 4 3 9
Azerbaijan 2 2 6 10
Poland 2 2 6 10
Turkey 2 2 1 5
Switzerland 2 2 0 4
Lithuania 2 1 2 5
Norway 2 1 1 4
Canada 1 5 12 18
Sweden 1 4 3 8
Colombia 1 3 4 8
Georgia 1 3 3 7
Mexico 1 3 3 7
Ireland 1 1 3 5
Argentina 1 1 2 4
Serbia 1 1 2 4
Slovenia 1 1 2 4
Tunisia 1 1 1 3
Dominican Republic 1 1 0 2
Trinidad and Tobago 1 0 3 4
Uzbekistan 1 0 2 3
Latvia 1 0 1 2
Algeria 1 0 0 1
Bahamas 1 0 0 1
Grenada 1 0 0 1
Uganda 1 0 0 1
Venezuela 1 0 0 1
India 0 2 4 6
Mongolia 0 2 3 5
Thailand 0 2 1 3
Egypt 0 2 0 2
Slovakia 0 1 3 4
Armenia 0 1 2 3
Belgium 0 1 2 3
Finland 0 1 2 3
Bulgaria 0 1 1 2
Estonia 0 1 1 2
Indonesia 0 1 1 2
Malaysia 0 1 1 2
Puerto Rico 0 1 1 2
Chinese Taipei 0 1 1 2
Botswana 0 1 0 1
Cyprus 0 1 0 1
Gabon 0 1 0 1
Guatemala 0 1 0 1
Montenegro 0 1 0 1
Portugal 0 1 0 1
Greece 0 0 2 2
Moldova 0 0 2 2
Qatar 0 0 2 2
Singapore 0 0 2 2
Afghanistan 0 0 1 1
Bahrain 0 0 1 1
Hong Kong 0 0 1 1
Saudi Arabia 0 0 1 1
Kuwait 0 0 1 1
Morocco 0 0 1 1
Tajikistan 0 0 1 1
 
 
Extension Challenge:
 
You could use data from previous Olympics to see the extent to which your criteria give a constant list of most athletic nations over time.
 
 

Notes and Background

The Plus article Harder, better, faster, stronger explores some of the same ideas as this problem.