Now in its eighth consecutive year, Havas Sports & Entertainment's Great Nations of Sport ranking reveals where the main sport nations stand today.
The ranking takes into account all current podium athletes (first, second, and third place) in World Championship and Olympic events across 53 sports and 154 disciplines, totaling 5,108 medals.
The USA confirms its dominance thanks to London 2012
The three most powerful sporting nations (USA, China and Russia) remain in 1st, 2nd and 3rd place, respectively, since 2006. Nevertheless, 2012 marks the overwhelming dominance of the United States. China has been hot on the heels of the USA since 2005 (25 gold medals behind in 2011) thanks to its stellar performance playing at home during the Beijing 2008 Summer Games. In 2012 however, the gap with the USA widened, reaching 57 gold medals, despite China's having the highest ratio of gold medal of all countries (44% vs the USA's 37%).
France moves up to 4th place, becoming the #1 sport nation in the EU
With 103 gold medals, France moves into 4th place and overtakes Germany, achieving its best ranking since 2005 and leading the EU countries, even in spite of the UK's strong home performance at London 2012. Winning medals in 76 disciplines, France is second only to the USA in the number of disciplines the country has placed in. French athletes excel in both team and individual sports, as well as summer and winter sports. France ranks first in handball, second in canoe/kayak and judo, and third in basketball.
The USA and France are successful across disciplines
France and the United States win medals in around 53% of the disciplines covered by the study, demonstrating an impressive range of athletic skill. This wide range of success across disciplines corresponds to a strong sport infrastructure that ensures that athletes have the necessary equipment to be competitive in a wide range of disciplines.
China and Spain win big in a few core sports
China (2nd) and Spain (13th) owe their success to their focus on a limited number of disciplines in which they excel. China brought home medals in 43 of the 154 sport disciplines (28%), meaning that the #2 gold medal winning nation picked up a lot of medals in relatively few disciplines. For example, China won 32 medals in shooting, 30 medals in artistic gymnastics, 24 medals in diving and 21 medals in table tennis. Their biggest success has come from a few core sports where they leave little room on the podium for other nations.
Spain, to a much lesser extent, has adopted a similar strategy, performing extremely well in sports that receive mass media attention, such as Formula 1 racing, football (they are UEFA Euro 2012 champions), basketball (European champions and silver Olympic champions) and tennis.
For this exclusive study, 53 different sports encompassing over 154 disciplines and 1,644 events have been screened closely. The ranking takes into account the gold, silver and bronze medals obtained by each nation in the following competitions: the last Olympic Games (summer and winter), the last world championships and, in some disciplines, the most recently published world rankings and most recent main events. In total, 5,108 medals were taken into consideration. Just as at the Olympics, the ranking is produced on the basis of the decreasing number of first places. Similarly, the principle of equality between sports is observed, with all gold medals having the same value, irrespective of the discipline. 115 countries won at least one medal.
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