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Slovenia hammers Armenia in Medals Per Capita

Slovenia's Primoz Kozmus won the gold medal in the Beijing Games men's hammer throw on Sunday.

Through eyeballs bloodshot from hours of trivial long division, the world's lonely and frivolous Medals Per Capita scholars will look at you and share with you an ancient Medals Per Capita adage:

Fear Slovenia.

Oh, Slovenia will bring along that dauntingly low population of 2,007,711. Oh, Slovenia will get some medals. And oh yeah, Slovenians have a demonstrable sturdiness.

Through history, they've come under the rule of the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Republic of Venice, the Duchy of Carantania, the Holy Roman Empire, the Habsburg Monarchy, the Austrian Empire, the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, Germans and Italians during World War II and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

You think they can't handle the hammer throw?

Now, as a pursuit, the hammer throw can seem alien, inscrutable and marginal. It can make you wonder just how many dangerous things they're going to let people throw for medals in the Olympics.

But on Sunday night in Beijing, the hammer throw turned monumentally, epically, phantasmagorically pivotal when Primoz Kozmus won it and lifted Slovenia to No. 1 on the most vital, cogent, counter-snobbish Olympic ranking, Medals Per Capita.

It brought the first track-or-field gold medal ever to the gorgeous little kumquat of a nation next to Italy on the Adriatic. It gave Slovenia four medals for 2,007,711 people, or one for every 501,927 Slovenians. It gave Slovenia a noticeable array of medals thus far -- one judo, one swimming, one shooting, one field.

And it finally dislodged the mighty Armenians from the summit.

Medals Per Capita should take this opportunity, then, to salute the Armenians, who tenaciously held the No. 1 slot for five long Olympic days, wringing five medals from 2,968,586 people to fend off hordes of challengers while forcing us to learn rarefied factoids.

Did you know that Armenia is the smallest of the former Soviet Republics, that its currency is the dram or that it has a bunch of extinct volcanoes? You do now, because of Armenian prowess in weightlifting (three medals) and wrestling (two).

In fact, that five-day reign almost certainly will prove persuasive to the Medals Per Capita Hall of Fame voters.

Sorry, voter.

In MPC minutiae from Sunday:

-- If you saw Jamaican women sweep gold, silver and silver (dead heat) in the women's 100 meters, and you instantly thought of how that might ransack the Medals Per Capita standings, well, that proves you have no life whatsoever.

It also could mean you're trivially observant, as the Frazer-Stewart-Simpson domination rocketed Jamaica from No. 24 all the way to No. 3 with a glowing MPC rating of one medal per 701,083.

-- The Trans-Tasman tussle, so gripping on Saturday, remained on in earnest -- Australia No. 4, New Zealand No. 5 -- even though Australia hoarded four more medals to reach 29 while New Zealand got zero to stay at five. The Australians had to be scratching their heads and wondering why they'd reproduced with such relative abandon. In their defense, they do have a lot more land.

-- In an Olympic story that defies all known worldly sporting belief, Great Britain is kicking serious tail in Beijing. It has gotten so serious that some columnists were comparing Saturday's nine-medal haul to the golden day of July 30, 1966, when England won the World Cup at Wembley Stadium. Then Sunday continued almost apace, with a medal (bronze) in men's gymnastics, unprecedented for a nation long thought too gorged on beer to navigate a pommel horse. A haul of 17 medals in two days brought a Very Great Britain to 24 medals and 25th place, an outstanding MPC showing for a big population.

The top 10:
(country, medal tally, MPC)

1. Slovenia (4) - one medal per every 501,927
2. Armenia (5) - 593,717
3. Jamaica (4) - 701,083
4. Australia (29) - 710,374
5. New Zealand (5) - 834,692
6. Belarus (10) - 968,576
7. Trinidad & Tobago (1) - 1,047,366
8. Norway (4) - 1,161,114
9. Estonia (1) - 1,307,605
10. Slovakia (4) - 1,311,187

Selected Others:

11. Denmark (4) - one medal per every 1,371,180
25. Great Britain (25) - 2,437,756
26. France (25) - 2,562,311
35. Germany (21) - 3,922,359
39. Singapore (1) - 4,608,167
40. United States (65) - 4,674,225
41. Canada (7) - 4,744,670
44. Japan (20) - 6,364,420
46. Spain (6) - 6,748,508
56. China (61) - 21,804,010

-- Chuck Culpepper

Culpepper is a Times contributor.

Photo: Primoz Kozmus competes on Sunday during the men's hammer throw final at the National Stadium during the 2008 Beijing Games. Kozmus, of Slovenia, won the gold medal. Credit: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

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Comments (153)

You should also consider that Armenia sent 25 athletes when Slovenia sent 62.

Are you counting the many Armenian Olympians that are on other national Olympic teams,including Abrahamian the Greco Roman wrestler who threw his Bronze Medal down and was disqualified?

Mr. Culpepper's pathetic sarcasm aside, I think it's incredibly remarkable that such tiny, poverty-ridden countries that most people cannot even locate on a map have shown such athletic prowess and talent. With all the money, support, food, propaganda and access to performance-enhancing drugs that major countries like the US and China have at their disposable, it's amazing that they don't dominate and take three for three in every event. Is that fact keeping Mr. Culpepper from acknowledging the accomplishments of these forgotten countries without lacing his entire article with biting sarcasm?

@margarita poverty-ridden? i guess last time u have visited us was 89' or maybe never?
but i agree with your comment, 3/4 of those chinese, americans and jamaicans are junkies.

greetz from sLOVEnija

Well, I don't think Slovenia would qualify as a "poverty-ridden" country.

poverty-ridden? This is typical american thinking. They can't locate us on the map and they think we live and poverty. And if you would ask them about Austria, they would say something alse. We are practically like Austria. Wages are few procents lower but that's that.

tiny, poverty-ridden countries that most people cannot even locate on a map ???


Soooo glad i live in Slovenia...

Margarita if you don't know where slovenia is and if you can not located it on the world map please get some information about countries before you talk about them. our GDP is very big and we are not just one more cheap eastern country!!

precisely! we slovenians live in a stone age! that is why we throw hammers so far, we have a lot of practice,,, lol


poverty ridden?haha u have clearly never been in slovenia. so dont talk what u dont know.

to other armenians

u have 5 medals all bronze in 2 sports!
we have 4 medals in 4 sports a gold a silver and 2 bronze!

u are only good in these two sports but we had favorites in 5 other sports who could win medals but didint. so we could easy have 10 medals now.

You should also consider that Armenia sent 25 athletes when Slovenia sent 62.
u have olmost 3 milion people we just 2. its your problem u didint send more athelets.-this is a stupid comment

when someone like abrahims competes for sweden this medal count for sweden not armenia.

but this counts are stupid. its up to how much many u have conditions...

I am slovenian and I am PROUD to be SLOVENIAN!!!

Slovenia is the Best, I feel Slovenia....he,he,he


Sloveeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeenijjjjaaaa ruullllz =)=)=)=)=)

I agree with Margarita in one respect... Why the sarcasm? Medals per capita is an important indicator of a country's success. And hammer throw is one of the oldest track-and-field events (there is a reason it's called track AND field - there is more to the sport than running).

But, Margarita, I agree with Triglav, you should not assume a country is poverty-ridden just because you've never heard of it. Slovenia has higher GDP (PPP) per capita than New Zealand.

Craig, Erzeroutsi, it is Armenia's problem if they have only 25 athletes that are good enough to compete at the Olympics, I am sure every world-class Armenian athlete was given a chance to participate.

There are Slovenians winning medals for other countries like Italy as well. It is a common phenomenon all over the world.

Just one remark: the Duchy of Carantania was a Slovenian country, in matter of fact, the first in the history. It was one of the best democratic organized countries in those days.


The GDP in slovenia is around 28.000 USD per capita. I Don't think that's poor? The GDP of Germany is $34,181 per capita.

poverty-ridden? not so much... Specially after € moved up comparing $. Yes, € is the official and only currency in Slovenia...

But this aside: did you know that even Merlene Ottey (probably best athlete ever) moved to Slovenia? She knows why!

Craig - and you should consider that Armenia win 5 (all Bronze Medals in two different sports) when Slovenia win 4 medals ( Gold, Silver and two Bronze) in four different sports....

Sorry Margarita, but you have no clue about Slovenia.

If a country with $28,010 GDP per capita, member of EU and NATO is poverty ridden so be it. But then, you have strange understanding of word poverty.

I don't know for you but I don't feel poor.

@margarita - poverty-ridden?????

Do you even know where Slovenia is? Do you even know that we are in the EU? Get your facts straight before you start writing such BS about countries you never been to or can't even locate on a map!

@margarita, your statement of Slovenia being a poverty-ridden county it´s like saying that USA is a worlds smallest country.

Please, read this:


Slovenia # 1 Like to hear that =)

@margarita ? poverty-ridden countries ? I see that Im not only slovenian who read this. If you would also know , Slovenia is one of more educated countries on the world. We are not poor ,caus we are hard working people. Slovenia is unknown country for those uneducated people. But it doesent matter...you dont know . Take a look on Wikipedia or browse a bid on google.

feel sLOVEnija

And have a nice day =)

Slovenijaaaa od kod lepote tvoje...



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