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EU Olympic Triumph

  • August 30th, 2008
  • Posted by 7thmin

olympic-medals.jpgOnce again the European Union won the Olympic Games hands down.

Had the twenty-seven countries’ medals tally been aggregated, in the manner of, say, the Soviet Union in days gone by, world Olympic sports domination would be close to no-contest.

It might be a tribute to sports culture, good policy on health and fitness, or a plain outcome of having money and time to spend on sport, but the medals tally from the Beijing Olympic Games is telling a story of success for Europe.


All parties usually agree that these Games are for individuals and teams, even the beauty of trying your hardest if you cannot win, and not about the glory of nations – or in this case clusters of nationalities.

Yet the players compete in national colours, and hear their anthem if they come first — and the medals tally is flashed up on screens everywhere to be regularly consulted.

This year it looked like China’s time, with also a dazzling entry, or re-entry of Great Britain into the First Class:

  • China – 51 Gold Medals, 100 total medals
  • USA – 36. 110
  • Russia – 23, 72
  • GB – 19, 47
  • Germany – 16, 41
  • Australia – 14, 46
  • Korea – 13, 31

None other in double figures for Gold.


boxing-kangaroo.jpgAustralians had some practice saying Silver was pretty good, while seeing several of their Olympic Champions or world record holders not win this time, and rueing some surprise disappointments like especially the collapse of the cycling team, who lost out to the GB bete noir.

Compensation has come from the keepers of statistics, who point out the country has not been outside of the top ten on the medals tally, for Summer Games anyway, since at least 1996, (says Wikipedia).


eu-flag-reduced6.pngBut how about these Europeans?

Just for a moment, let us revive the USSR, with even unhappy Georgia surrendering its three Gold and three Bronze to the Great Power; Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia opting out of a sports-NATO to return to the fold; the hapless Ukraine trading medals for a decent supply of oil.

soviet-flag.jpgHere is how it would have looked if they were all back in the USSR:

  • China – 51, 100
  • USSR – 45, 174
  • USA – 36, 110

Yes, they would have beaten the Yanks. (Do people remember how those two contenders used to conduct a sporting World War 3?). They also would be making the Chinese look hard at that total medals column – the one that’s been generating so much interest in the US media.

eu-flag-reduced6.pngThen, in the same spirit of common identity, boosted by some new members since 2004 (five Gold, two Silver, six Bronze, thank-you-merci Bulgaria and Romania), the EU can report a great victory over all that:

  • European Union – 86, 280
  • China – 51, 100
  • USSR – 45, 174
  • USA – 36, 110

And incidentally, we Aussies would then move up to the fifth berth that we feel entitled to as our minimum spot.


british-flag.jpgTo complete this game about the Games, let us count in that other assemblage of nations which have, in many ways, like cultures, and like identities, (well, a lot of them have got cricket, anyway): the Commonwealth.

Certain members, say, Canada and India, would need a talking-to; life, and sport, do not begin and end with ice hockey and leather-on-willow.

But there are the mighty West Indians to include here, and the very strong African contributors, (think Kenya with 5-5-4).

Here’s the table:

  • EU – 86, 280
  • The Commonwealth – 52, 160
  • China – 51, 100
  • USSR – 45, 174
  • USA – 36, 110

Adjusting, since the UK has joint responsibilities these days, we have to split the GB tally between the EU and Commonwealth:

  • EU – 76, 257
  • China – 51, 100
  • USSR – 45, 174
  • Commonwealth – 43, 136
  • USA – 36, 110

(Zimbabwe’s return to the Commonwealth would bring with it one more Gold medal and three Silvers).


That is the shake-out from these Olympic Games, which started with some football on 6.8.08 and ended a week ago, 24.8.08. (The Paralympics run 6-17.9.08).

Many beaming winners; many disappointments; hopefully a good boost to a practical ideal of physical fitness, and to excellence in physical culture.

No more now until it all happens again, at London, in 2012.


Members of the European parliament have been discussing the very idea of a single EU team. read the Parliament’s communique, this week:

Will the EU ever field a single team for the Olympics?
Sport – 28-08-2008 – 12:14

Postscript: As it will be in England, why can’t cricket be next candidate sport?

Reference: Medals table,, (30.8.08)

Picture: Boxing kangaroo,