Age 14 to 16
Not many responses to this one - this was a tough problem! Let's have a look at what we got.
Adam and Eva, at Ratoath Senior School, made a comparison of the various spreadsheets of data for men's and women's events since 2000:
We figured out that the first 3 winning countries did not always have the highest score in any certain task. We also figured out the the overall winners in the men's events are very often Germany, Canada and New Zealand, and in the women's events from 2000 till 2008, Australia always comes within the top three.
The Pythagoreans Club at All Saints Catholic School, on the other hand, commented on the men's results in 2008 in more detail:
Firstly, we sorted the data in terms of the swimming results. We found out that none of the top three medallists was the fastest at swimming; in fact the gold medallist came 16th. Therefore we think that the swimming does not have a major impact on the final positions. For example the fastest swimmer actually finished 34th overall.
Secondly, we resorted the data in terms of fastest cycling times. We noticed that the cycling also did not have a big impact on the final positions as the gold medallist came 33rd. Also the person who came 1st in swimming actually came last in cycling.
Lastly, we found out that the running time was the most important result, as the ranking in the running event was almost the same as the eventual ranking with only a few changes. So whatever position you place after running really determines where you will place overall.
We plotted a scatter graph of the running time against the total time. We wanted to find out whether these two variables were related, and they turned out to be very closely related.
To conclude we would say that in order to have the best total time, you have to be good at running. If you want to be an Olympic gold medallist, you don't have to get on swimmingly or get on your bike but you do have to be Forrest Gump.
Great! Thanks for all your responses.