The sporting event that has had everyone talking this summer is the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Over two weeks in August, professional sportsmen and women from across the globe battled it out to win 2102 medals in 28 sports, across a total of 306 games.
There are 206 Olympic Nations who compete against each other at the games. Two non-national teams also took part in 2016 – the Refugee Olympics Team and the Independent Olympic Athletes team. Independent athletes compete under a neutral banner during times when their country is prevented from appearing – such as Kuwait this year. The Refugee team is made up of athletes displaced by political unrest and war in their home nations and it appeared for the first time in 2016, although no medals were taken by the ten chosen athletes.
Top Of The Table: US Wins Most Medals For 17th Time
The United States has a long history of success when it comes to the Olympic Games, so it was unsurprising to see them take the most medals home from Rio 2016. The US grabbed 121 medals in total – of which 46 were gold. There have been 17 games since 1896 which were ‘won’ by the North American nation, including that very first modern Olympic Games. In fact, when it comes to all-time medal history the States sits miles ahead of the pack at 2,520. Next is the now-defunct USSR at 1,010, with Britain in third place at 847 total medals.
Leading The Medal Table: The Rest Of The Best
Some might say that the top of the table has become a little predictable. 2016’s leading nations at the Games (ranked by gold medal count and then by total count) were:
● United States (121)
● Great Britain (67)
● China (70)
● Russia (56)
● Germany (42)
China has featured in the top five places every Olympics since 1992, and Russia have been up there since 1996 – and Russia also used to do extremely well under the USSR flag. Britain and Germany also usually place highly, although both have dropped off the top spots a few times over the past decades. While the actual positions change year to year, it tends to be the same nations who take home the most prizes. However, there have been a few surprises in the past. At the 2012 London Games, South Korea made it to fifth place with a 28 medal haul. In 1992, the overall spot was taken by the Unified Team – states from the former Soviet Union.
Serving Up Surprises: Nations That Did Unexpectedly Well
Puerto Rico may only have picked up one medal this year, but it was their first – and it was gold. Few expected Monica Puig, ranked 32 places below her opponent, to beat world number two Angelique Kerber in the ladies’ singles tennis final – but she managed it. Meanwhile, the Philippines picked up their first Olympic medal in two decades, with a victory nobody was expecting. Tiny Hidilyn Diaz achieved the silver medal in her weightlifting category, beating tough competition and becoming the first Filipino woman to ever win an Olympic medal.
Host nation Brazil really put in the effort as well, and having the home fans cheer them on made all the difference in the football final. They came 13th overall with 19 medals and seven golds, which is a big improvement from their average place of 27th.
A First Gold Medal For Ten Olympic Nations
There were some huge international surprises at Rio 2016, and Puerto Rico was not the only nation to get its first gold medal. Eight other countries also achieved this honour, while Kuwait’s Fehaid Al-Deehani picked up a first gold for the Independent Olympic Athletes team. Those nine first time winners are:
● Ivory Coast
● Puerto Rico
For Fiji, Jordan and Kosovo, these gold medals were the nation’s first ever Olympic win. This is particularly impressive for first-timers Kosovo, who only got accepted to Olympic Nation status in 2014.
The Athletes’ Performance: Overall Winners in Rio 2016
The stars of this year’s Olympic Games were undoubtedly the United States, with the three highest achieving athletes all competing for this nation. Swimmers Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky. Phelps has more medals than any other Olympic athlete: a grand total of 28, including the 6 he picked up in Rio. Meanwhile, Ledecky got 5 medals this year and smashed her own world record in the process. Another US competitor, gymnast Simone Biles, also got five gold medals.
For the other nations, there were some standout performances. Hungary came in 14th place with 15 medals, but Katinka Hosszu got four of those individually. Similarly Jamaica got six gold medals, half of which were provided by superstar runner Usain Bolt. Other champions with three gold medals are Team GB’s Jason Kenny, Hungary’s Danuta Kozak and Australia’s Ryan Murphy.