NZ Mines for Gold in Rio
The lead-up to this year’s Summer Olympics has included construction delays, protests against Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, and a data leak suggesting the samples of one in seven competing track athletes appear “highly suggestive of doping.” And, despite the temperate nature of this year’s games, the summer Olympics can be expected to bring a chill as “the return of geopolitical tensions between Russia and the West will provide a cold-war-style edge that makes for must-see TV.”
Nothing can quell the excitement surrounding the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro, however, which has the world’s nations already thinking about their prospects for gold, silver, and bronze medals. Dan Rosenheck, data editor at The Economist, recently previewed the contests we can expect starting August 5 from Cidade Maravilhosa and, with Infostrada Sports, predicted which nations might rake in the biggest medal hauls.
“The country most likely to deliver a positive surprise at the games in New Zealand,” writes Rosenheck, predicting nine golds for New Zealand. “A remarkable feat, given that their economy is one-seventh the size of the smallest country ahead of them.” Likely to help the Kiwi cause: this year’s Olympics Games will see the debut of rugby sevens.
Significantly over-achieving on a per capita basis at the Olympics would be nothing new for New Zealand, which sent its first team to the VII Olympiad in 1920. (The country has enjoyed a much smaller presence in the Winter Olympics, attending its first event in 1952.) Since then, New Zealand has taken home a total of 103 Olympic medals, including 43 gold, 19 silver, and 41 bronze. Among the nation’s greatest Olympics heroes are kayaking champion Ian Ferguson (winner of four gold and one silver medals), canoeing champion Paul MacDonald (with three gold, one silver, and one bronze), and middle-distance running legend and New Zealand’s “Sports Champion of the [20th] Century” Peter Snell, who dominated middle-distance running in the early-to-mid 1960s and bagged three Olympic gold medals along the way. Let the countdown to Rio begin!