NY Times has an excellent interactive map of Olympic medal count by county for all the modern Olympics since 1896. Only 11 countries won medals in the first Olympics but that jumped to 74 countries won medals in 2004 (of course, more countries also participated in 2004). Also, note the disproportionate amount of medals that the Axis countries won in those infamous 1936 Olympics.
The medal winners are from countries across political ideologies, economic strength, geographic size, and population. United States has remained consistent among the top winners. But sadly India’s absence is notable. And more sadly I don’t expect it to change in the near future.
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, the silver medal winner from 2004 remains India’s sole medal hope amidst other athletes failing the drug tests. We figure with countries like Paraguay, Eritrea, Mongolia, and Trinidad & Tobago in the medal tally. In which other table would we figure with these countries? I’m resisting from mentioned the abysmal decline of hockey, our national sport that garnered the most medals in the past. Perhaps we should simply stop giving importance to winning at the Olympics or better still, not participate until cricket is included.
Update: If you are here for the 2008 medals tally, I’ve written it up here on basis of medals won as well as normalized by population and GDP.