A hero of the Games
In this blogposting…
* The Olympic Games
* Vacivity
All together now…


Our Great Summer Extravaganza (incorporating, as usual, the Annual Nudist Bring-and-Buy Sale) will take place at about 1030 on Wednesday 29 August at the Tanfield Railway.

There is now quite a backlog of agenda items, so come prepared to either plank, use a SOW word (see below), recite a tongue-twister or dance the tango - or all four (though not at the same time).

There’ll probably be a train ride thrown in, so ladies intending to wear Singapore-slit tango dresses….you have been warned.

A splendid time is guaranteed for all - depending on how many ladies wear Singapore-slit tango dresses.


Take a deep breath….

Until August 6, the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada - population about 110,000 (half that of Newcastle) - made Olympic history.  It won its first ever medal of any colour, and, as if to make the occasion doubly momentous, it was a gold.  19-year old Kirani James crossed the line first in the men’s 400m final, as you can see above.

This amazing achievement from such a tiny country lifted Grenada from the huge well of the unmedalled masses - up to number 58 on the Official Medal Table, along with Bahamas, Algeria, Finland and Latvia.

Which strikes me, and many millions of others, as deeply unfair because it misrepresents the successes of the many smaller nations which grace the Olympics with their presence.  How dull it would have been without Tonga, Togo and Tuvalu (none of which won any medals at all).

The Official Medal Table takes no account of the size, population or wealth of the medal winning nations.  It’s a stark, raw list which, in essence, comes as no surprise to anyone.  You would, after all, expect the biggest, richest and most populous countries to win the most medals, and they do.

Here’s the Top Ten (worked out by scoring each gold medal as 3 points, each silver as 2 and each bronze as 1)...

1  United States
2  China
3  Russia
4  Great Britain
5  Germany
6  France
7  Japan
8  Australia
9  South Korea
10  Italy

But it’s much more equitable, and, in my opinion, more accurate, to re-configure the table to take account of each country’s population size.  If you do this, amazing things happen…

1  Grenada
2  Jamaica
3  Bahamas
4  New Zealand
5  Trinidad and Tobago
6  Montenegro
7  Cyprus
8  Hungary
9  Slovenia
10  Denmark

The ‘official’ Top Ten have disappeared.  The US drops to 47, China to 73, Russia to 34, Great Britain to 20, Germany to 35, France to 36, Japan to 50, Australia to 11, South Korea to 31 and Italy to 40.

Already, the ‘official’ table is looking inaccurate and tawdry.  Of the original Top Ten, the best performers now are Australia, Great Britain and South Korea.  Per head of population, the US performed only averagely and China, very badly indeed.

What happens, then, if you list the medal winners according to how wealthy their countries are - using Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a measure.  After all, a dirt-poor country winning Olympic medals deserves more credit.

1  Grenada (again - good old Kirani James)
2  Jamaica (again)
3  North Korea
4  Mongolia
5  Georgia
6  Kenya
7  Montenegro
8  Armenia
9  Ethiopia
10  Belarus

Using medals-per-GDP, the original Top Ten do even worse than when we used population size.  The US is way down at 66, China’s at 54, Russia at 36, Great Britain at 40, Germany at 55, France at 58, Japan at 70, Australia at 44, South Korea at 42 and Italy at 57.

Of the original Top Ten, the best performers per-GDP are, once again, Great Britain, South Korea and Australia.

Another unofficial measure introduced at these Games was to list the medal winners according to how big their countries’ Olympic teams were.  And again, interesting things happen…

1  China
2  Jamaica
3  Iran
4  Botswana
5  US
6  Ethiopia
7  Kenya
8  Russia
9  Grenada (again)
10  Georgia

China is back at number one, the US has dropped to 5 and Russia to 8.  Great Britain drops to 13, Germany to 19, France to 23, Japan to 21, Australia to 31, South Korea to 15 and Italy to 24.

As far as I am concerned, all three of these ‘alternative’ medal tables are preferable to the original and give a much more accurate, eye-opening and liberating view of exactly who performed well in London and who didn’t do as well as they might think.

And it’s gratifying to know that all the British self-congratulation was wholly merited.  Whichever table you use, we didn’t do badly at all, did we?

My own personal Gold Medal, though, would go to the amazing Clare Balding, who knocked all the (many) other tv presenters into a cocked hat during the Games.  I’m told the BBC refuses to use her as a presenter on Match of the Day, because, if they did, she would be the only one who knew what she was talking about and would put the likes of Lineker and company - all male and all shallow, empty-headed pundits - in the shade.

And we can’t have that.


The Save Our Words campaign is intended to prevent perfectly respectable English words from sinking into the pit of extinction by bringing them to your notice so that you can use them and thus give them new life and vigour.  (For the first two at-risk words, see blogposting 385.)

Today’s word is…

VACIVITY - ‘emptiness’

As in ‘At best, I feel only complete vacivity when I think of Graham Norton, Middlesbrough or cricket.’

Use it or lose it.


Post comments on this blog or email me:  truckshunters@googlemail.com

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