SportsMyriad.com has completed an exhaustive review of the 2012 Olympic events and come up with the following medal projections: USA 113, Russia 85, China 84, Britain 78, Germany 52.
How does this compare to other projections? Glad you asked …
These projections are:
- MYRIAD: Mine, based on reading through results of the past four years (especially the last two). Originally done last year; updated this month.
- WSJ: Wall Street Journal, based on probabilities assigned for each country to medal in each event. And those probabilities are based on recent results and interviews with experts.
- SI: Sports Illustrated (saw it in print, didn’t see it on the site), based on predictions in each event. (Similar to mine.)
- INFO: Infostrada/USA TODAY, also based on results but uses “an algorithm.” It’s a bit more detailed than something I attempted at USA TODAY heading into the Athens Games.
- JOHNSON: Colorado College professor Dan Johnson, who has made projections for several Olympiads using socioeconomic and other factors.
- TUCK: Emily Williams, using population and economic data along with historic results. She has picked up this formula from Tuck School of Business (Dartmouth) professor Andrew Bernard. (Yes, I’m also picturing Ed Helms.)
Several of these projections, including mine, are also being compared at Top End Sports.
I’ll now do the time-tested self-interview, partially because it’s an old PR tactic and partially because my brain is completely scrambled after doing the update of each event in about 10 days.
So you think your projection will be closest to the final tally?
Actually, no. The Wall Street Journal’s method looks best. The expert interviews should fill in a few holes in the results. Some athletes simply don’t show their best until the Games, and the experts can often name them. And then converting that information to probabilities is a good way to account for the fact that some sports are sure bets and some are crapshoots. (Let’s say I have a little more confidence in the men’s 400 individual medley than I do in most of the taekwondo picks.)
Looks like the USA will run away with it, and Britain will do pretty well, too.
Perhaps, but this might be a flaw of my methodology. It’s simply easier to get information about those two countries than it is about, say, Azerbaijan’s.
That said, I don’t see any way the USA drops all the way from 110 medals to 88, which is what Infostrada/USA TODAY is projecting.
In Britain’s case, when one of their athletes was roughly even with someone else, I picked Britain. Home advantage means something. But realistically, out of maybe 20 such occasions in which I picked the British athlete to shine at home, it’ll happen perhaps 10-15 times. The question is whether British fans will propel 10-15 athletes who normally wouldn’t medal to do so this time around. If that happens, my projection of the high 70s will come true. If not, it’ll be closer to everyone else’s picks.
How about China?
Yeah, how about that? Infostrada/USA TODAY says they’ll lead the medal count. SI says 97. Johnson says 67. I think they’re going to drop off a bit from Beijing. Going sport by sport, I saw several events in which China’s 2008 results were surely influenced by home advantage — athletes medaled at home but didn’t accomplish much in the next couple of world championships.
Why are you doing this?
I’ve done similar things in my years at USA TODAY, and I wanted to give it a try on my own.
Will you do this again for the 2014 Games?
Probably. The Winter Games are much easier to track.
And again for 2016?
I’ll need a nap first.