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The medal count: U.S., China creating 'parallel Olympics'

Lin Dan of China during the men's gold medal match in badminton. Lin won.

BEIJING -- U.S. athletes are doing well in the sports their country traditionally cares about.

Chinese athletes are doing well in the sports their country traditionally cares about, plus some in which they have created instant tradition based on success.

“What we have here is a parallel Olympics,” said David Wallechinsky, author of “The Complete Book of the Olympics.”

“We in the United States are focused on swimming, track and field and basketball, and we hardly notice that China just won five gold medals in sports like badminton, shooting and women’s weightlifting.”

While pool swimming (as opposed to open water) and track have by far the most medals at stake, U.S. dominance there likely will not be enough to keep China from topping the gold medal count.

“A lot of people are saying China is traditionally not as strong in the second week, but traditionally they don’t win xx gold medals in the first week,” said Steve Roush, chief of sports performance for the U.S. Olympic Committee.

“I’m not sure tradition is the best predictor of the future where China is concerned.”

China led 35-19 in the gold medal tally after Sunday’s action, the final day of pool swimming, in which the U.S. won 12 of 32 golds and China just one.

It is no surprise that Chinese media are among many worldwide that list the medal standings by gold rather than total medals, where the United States leads 65-61.

Roush and other USOC officials long had predicted that China would have exceptional results based on its Project 119, which identified 119 potential medal events and focused time and money on them.

“For the non-believers, it is reality that the Chinese investment over the past six or seven years has proved to be successful in events where they typically had not succeeded on the international level,” Roush said.

While U.S. athletes should win several gold medals in team sports that end later this week, their only hope to surpass China depends on doing better in track and field than seems reasonably possible — especially after failing to win the men’s shotput and both the men’s and women’s 100-meter dash.

An everything-goes-right view would have the United States winning 31 gold medals in the second week of the Olympics, which would make the total 48, or a whopping 12 more than the total four years ago in Athens.

China won 32 golds in Athens. While many sports they have dominated here are over, the Chinese should add to their current total with three more golds in table tennis, three more in diving, and one or more in boxing and gymnastics, with others possible in canoe-kayak and track and field.

These are possible places for the United States to add to its gold total.

Beach volleyball, two; baseball, one (unlikely); basketball, two (expected); BMX cycling, one; gymnastics, two; equestrian, one; sailing, one; soccer, one; softball, one (expected); taekwondo, one; volleyball, one; and water polo, one.

The United States has a shot at 16 gold medals in track and field, but its athletes are favored for only seven: men’s and women’s 400 meters, women’s 200, men’s 400 hurdles, decathlon and both 1,600-meter relays.

“Our Olympic team is performing well,” Roush insisted. “This isn’t a matter of the United States losing the gold medal count but of China stepping up and winning it.”

-- Philip Hersh

Photo: Lin Dan of China during the men's gold medal match in badminton. Lin won. Credit: Indranil Mukherjee / AFP / Getty Images

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Comments (169)

The problem with American sports is that they are gay. They are not hardened to proper competition.

For example,

American Football - Gay!! Right first things first, its not football. I mean for how many times during the match does the ball actually touch someones foot ? And whats with all that shoulder padding. Its like something out of Dynasty. If you wanted to be a REAL man, you should play a sport like Rugby... that sorts the men from the boys. Anyway who else plays this gay sport ?! The beauty about sports is that you can challenge other countries and have world competitions. I guess Americans just like to play with themselves !!! ;-)

Baseball - Gay!! We have a sport similiar to baseball but its called rounders. Mosrtly played by girls, and when you hit a good shot everybody chants "rounder, rounder, rounder". Got knows how this could get into the Olympics ?!?! A similiar mans sport however would be cricket, when you get delivered a 100 mph ball at your head or body. Oh and its a world sport where different countries compete against another.

Basketball - Gay!! Another stupid sport unless your some freak of nature and look like a giraffe.

Funniest thins once was when I went to an American Baseball match. The stadium uses a PA system to play stupid jingles. Its like an annoying ringtone, but I think its designed to wake the crowd up from their slumber.... oh god its only the 4th innings !? Just goes to show how boring these sports must be. Ive never been to a Football, Rugby, Cricket match where they have to play kiddie chants to work the crowd up.

American sports = gay, gay, gay

No wonder you guys have to count that Bronze = Gold ! LOL

I'm not convinced Alex meets the 13 year old age limit. What do the Chinese papers say on this?

"Looking at government investment doesn't really work, unless you factor in the GDP. For example, the US can afford not to invest much from a governmental standpoint because its population is wealthy enough for most families to finance their children's participation in sports. On the other hand, in a country like China, despite having a much larger population, a large portion of the population is still extremely poor (keep in mind that 8 years ago, the per capita gdp of China was still approximately 800 USD). You can't really compare... "
Oh really? smart guy what about countries like canada which has a fairly high GDP higher than China, But for the past two olympics Canada haven't been doing too well in terms of medal. and sometimes it's even getting beat by some countries such as north korea a country which could barely feed its people.....

Maybe Jamaica or some other small country could use "medal per capita" or "gold medal per capita" to sort the list.. but they didn't. AFAIK only the American media is doing something like this. You tell me what that tells you.

Me and my fren were laughing to ourselves when we found that US was the only country i seen so far that rates theselves based on total golds.

to paraphrase the writer: 'It is no surprise that US media are among the very few worldwide that list the medal standings by total medals rather than gold, where the United States leads."

critise china for tibet. only e saints will invade iraq n afghanistan

Leave it to the Brits to argue that air rifle and badmiton are just as important as swimming, gymnastics or track! Clearly all events are not created equal and it shouldn't surprise anyone that China, a country of 1.5 billion people, could come out on top in a game of counting medals. I think the most impressive counrty so far is Jamaica - they win real events without huge government subsidies and despite their small population and low income levels.

The deal with Canada is, they do not wage pre-emptive wars against weak countries and demolish all their already poor infrastructure, lead 1 million people to death and 4 million to displacement. Also, many parts of Canada experience extremely cold temperatures for about 5-6 months a year. They also do not invent lame pretexts like WMD, or nonexistent links between terror organizations and innocent local people. They do not torture unindicted people in a remote island for several years just because their names look alike some bad guys' names. They do not manipulate everything in their power to reach and exploit energy resources at all costs. Why do you think the US occupied Iraq? Because it has the 4th largest oil reserve in the World! Why do they want to attack Iran? Because it has the 3rd largest reserve. Cheap oil for spoiled Americans' XL asses and SUV's at the expense of the blood of poor innocent people. Pretty good deal, huh? By the way, the US consumes %26 percent of all the energy in the World. More than 1/4 of energy goes to 300 million people, and the remaning 6.3 billion will have to get by with the rest.

By the way, there should be also a new Olympic branch called "couch potato". And we all know well who is the rightful owner of the gold medal here!

China is doing great in the Olympics. Nice job. USA is doing great in the Olympics.
Nice job.

Let some keep count by Gold. Let some keep count by a total count.

It's all good.

You people make it sound like the US just changed the way medals are counted, when in fact, the US has counted medals like this since the first games. Get it? Nothing has changed, this is how they've done it before, this is how they do it now, and this is how they will do it in the future. They aren't changing anythign because they are behind in Gold medals.


Notice 1964 where the US had more Gold medals, but finished 6 behind the Soviet union in total medals, and was listed 2nd behind the Soviet Union. The same in 1896 & 1912.

The US might finish behind China in Golds, and maybe even total medals, but at least they don't hide their 6 year old singers because they aren't pretty enough. uggh!

The way US media 'interprets' the medal standing, which is contrary to the rest of the world, could be understood. Which nation doesn't want to top the medal standing table? If they (US media) think they could make the US general public feel better by doing that, then go for it. But I believe US people are not stupid. Although the US media could possibly please part of their target audience, they don't earn any respect from the world.

Who cares how the media arranges the standing?
I know everybody realizes China kicked our butt this time. Some just don't like to admit it openly. Nobody likes losing, especially when we were so dominate in the past.

I do see how this method of moral boost can be seen as an attempt at saving face for the rest of the world though...

Not sure what most of your problems with America is in the first place. Most of us don't care how many Golds we have, or silver and bronze for that matter. I enjoy the olympics regardless to who wins. China is doing well, and should be congradulated for its performance. But for any one to down talk america for not taking home 60+ golds is just ubsured. While through out history America as a combined total of 2483 medals (including 08 so far) while the number two contry only has 1204. Say what you want about the medal counts. Either way America has been, and will be a tough contry to compete with. The games are not over, and there is still a chance for America to out do China, then what would ya'll have to say?

Yeah, yeah. We're getting our a**ses handed to us in ping pong, badminton, women's weight lifting, diving and men's gymnastics.

Oh. The. Shame.


Enough is enouth. I think both ways to calculate medal ranking has its reasoning:

Is a country with 1 gold but no silver stronger in sports than another country with no gold but 20 silver?

Then again, is a country with 2 gold 18 silver stronger in sports than another coutnry with 15 gold but no silver?

Some Americans are so self-centered that they just can't take any loss and they feel mad. So they behaved like a cry baby seeking every opportunity to blame on others for their own problem.

For some Chinese (or some institution), they think wining Gold medal is the only way to show how "GREAT" China is, and they would do anything to get GOLD Medals. I think sports in China should become mass root hobby,not just reserved for a tiny group of top level trained professionals. China still has a long way to go in this respect.

As I see, Olympic is a game for Atheletes all over the world, not just for those who can win medals. Stop the cold war thinking and let all sport fans be proud of atheletes from their own nation performing their best and have a great time.

Personally, I don't like to see any one country dominating the sports, be it USA, Russia or China. We need competition, competition makes the game more fun.

Well said China Guy, Well said.

Great job to all the athletes, particularly those from China. It is worth noting the US will equal or exceed the Athens performance which could be charaterized as a typical US performance. Which leads me to assume that China's success doesn't come at the expense of the US but at the expense of the rest of the world's athletes. Countries with large populations that fund their sports programs will normally win. The methods may be different but the results are the same. One should expect China to do well.

First off, nice to see all the Anti-American, Chinese apologists in the house. I noticed where one Anti-American comment, from an American (excuse me while I vomit in disgust for this pathetic person) commented on why the United States of America has to think they're the best in the world? Again, this pathetic and sad excuse for an AMERICAN obviously leads a very sheltered and liberal life. All this person needs to do is go to every other country, or at least a dozen as I have, to know the answer.

Now to the point of this comment, I found the quote “This isn’t a matter of the United States losing the gold medal count but of China stepping up and winning it.” ridiculous on myriad levels. But in this feckless society we live in these days, where political correctness is nothing more than a cop out for people who can't handle life's harsh truths and realities as well as who can't stand that they have all the freedoms and wealth that we do as country, otherwise known as "White Guilt", this comment isn't that surprising. Extremely sad and pathetic, but not surprising.

China stepping up and winning them? Uh not so fast.

In gymnastics alone, I've seen where the Chinese "won" five Gold medals ONLY because of either incompetent judging, or blatent disregard for the rules and parameters set forth in the scoring of the diciplines in question. When you have judging being "subjective" and especially in a country where oppression and execution are common place, you're asking for an Olympics that are tainted, if for no other reason than because they are held in a country that has absolutely no business hosting them in the first place. It's also very sad and pathetic when the commentators who've been in the particular gymnastic disciplines in question for most of their lives, know all about how the event is scored and what constitutes a deduction and yet they are at a loss for why China was awarded the Gold when it was obvious that they didn't deserve it, well, it's probably not a stretch to say that the prevelent and psychotic, for lack of a better term, and utter disdain for the United States of America because of political reasons is behind this, as well as intimidation, pure and simple, bottom line, period, end of story.

You look back at previous Summer Olympics and the Chinese have never dominated in total Gold medals overall, nor when you compare the number of Golds in relation to their individual overall medal count. I mean when you see that they have 44 Golds and yet have scored only 14 Silver and 14 Bronze, and then you compare the ratios for other countries which are much more balanced, again, it's not a stretch to see that it's either blatent incompetence in judging, blatent cheating and/or intimidation when China is judging an event, or just plain and blatent hatred for the United States of America and strictly for political reasons.

There was one other time in history where the host country dominated in Gold medals to the point of disbelief, and that was when Nazi Germany hosted the Olympics in 1936. Again, a country that at the time, had no business hosting the Olympic games. It was obvious that other countries were kowtowed into judging in favor of Germany in the majority of the events. If it weren't for the fact that in the case of Jesse Owens, where there wasn't any "subjective" judging involved, but judging that was based soley on being first in a race, jumping farther than everybody else etc., Germany probably would have won every Gold medal up for grabs. There is no disputing this, it's historical fact. Hitler had it set up to where the fix was in and he was absolutely livid that not only did an American win against his "best" athletes in Track & Field, but that it was a BLACK AMERICAN that beat them.

Well, it's a historical fact unless you happen to be a student in the public school system or the majority of colleges where teachers and their unions have forcibly re-written history to suit their own self hatred, hatred for all White, European males, and a very deep seated hatred for their country, every thing about it, and everyone in it.

And yes, we DO judge ourselves by our overall medal counts as does every other country. It's called taking pride in your country as a whole as well as being prideful in your accomplishments as individuals and in your country and not allowing yourself to be blinded by political ideology or political correctness.

Speaking of PC, the United States has to spend the next three years appealing the IOC ruling that has removed both softball and baseball from future Olympic competition ONLY because of our dominance in softball (we've never been beaten in Olympic history) or in the case of baseball, "because there isn't any star factor involved", translated, again because the Unites States usually dominates the sport. I was always taught that if you lose, you lose and you find a way to win the next time and you work and strive to win until you accomplish your goals, whatever they may be. But today, and even in the Olympics, which I find extremely pathetic and embarassing, they have the "mercy rule" which is the same thing as the "10 run rule" in both softball and baseball. Because after all, everyone should be winners and no one should be losers.

Again, please excuse my while I vomit in disgust. The original athletes involved in the first Olympiad in Rome would be incredulous that such a thing was put in place, let alone that it even exists. When I was growing up, you either won or you lost and no one was mentally scared because of it. Ironically, more kids are mentally and emotionally scared BECAUSE of the PC instilled and milquetoast way that our kids our raised today.

But I digress and I apologize.

Look people, it comes down to this. Do I think that sometimes the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA does silly things? Yes. I'm not blind, in denial, deluded nor stupid. Am I ever embarassed by the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA for whatever reason? Absolutely never. What it comes down to is that when you love something or someone, you should NEVER be embarrassed by what they do. Am I disgusted by the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA? Again, the answer is no, for the very same reasons.

Nothing is perfect. People aren't perfect. But you stand by what you're proud of and what you love and I happen to be both extremely proud of and very much in love with my country, the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. I am also exctremely grateful that I am privileged as well as very lucky that I happen to live in the most free and democratic country in the world, and everyday I wake up, I thank GOD that I live in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, THE BEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD!!!

Thank you all for letting me state my opinion. In China, this type of pointed discourse would NEVER be allowed and I would more than likely be jailed for a very long time, if not outright executed, of course after a "trial".



Ps. -- Please excuse any spelling errors. Due to no 'spell check' involved here, I did my best to make sure my spelling was correct, but being that I'm human, I may have missed a few. Again, my apologies.

It only makes sense to calculate rank by GOLD standings.

Think about it, why have only 3 types of medals? That's arbitrary. Why not have 5, or 10 or 16? Then everyone gets a medal! And the team with the most competing atheletes would win. And that would still be China.

Besides disussing the gold medal count and total medals count, why don't you look at the reason why china has so many gold medal count while has comparatively less total medal count. It's coz some advantage events for china has been restricted by IOC. One typical example is that China only allow to send 4 person to attend 7 events in woman weight lifting, so they only get 4 gold medals. If they allow to send 3 persons to attend each event just like US did in swimming and tracks and fields, they will probably get 20 medail counts for just woman weight lifting. Wake up! American!

The amount of vitriol directed against America on this thread is amazing. Many posters are somehow lumping together all of the transgressions the American government has (allegedly or in fact) committed with an article in the LA Times on MEDAL COUNTING.

Yes, America and its institutions can be arrogant, self-centered, ignorant, and dismissive of other views.

America right now is close to or at its apex of power. It will not last forever; and guess what? Americans know this! Thinking that China, Europe, India, Russia or whoever else may be at the top in the future will not act with the same arrogance is stupid and ignores history.

If they don't come first even in the total medals count they will come up with some sort of "weighing" sports by "relevance" to build the ranking (i.e. the ones they did good as more relevant than badmington, canoeing. etc.)

To Thirteenburn:

Why do you ever need the spell-checker anyway? Isn't "American" your native language? Didn't you receive proper education in English? Aren't you supposed to be able to write correctly?

First of all... i'm from south america and i dont feel identified by this "America" associacion with the USA... just a country, not a whole continent...

Imagine for just a second... what if michael phelps couldnt participate in the Olympics Games?... did the US media still consider themselves in the first place just for having a silver or bronze medals?.

Other think... the "lesser sports" that some of you have proudly talk about... that is so US-egolatry... if the third of the humanity plays and enjoy badminton or volleyball, but you dont, then is a lesser sport... if almost the entire world plays football, or "soccer" as you like to call it, but you dont, then is a lesser sport... if every country made efforts in martial art, even the US which even dedicates blockbuster movies to those disciplines, but its not that famous in Texas.. then is a lesser sport... c'mon!

The US have all the power, the money, the technology, the influence and even the experience, although the impressive number of chinese trainers that we can in your teams, to smash every country in competition sports, specially a "superpower proyect" in the very long run as China... considering that, i can observe that there is something worst that an arrogant winner(US in the past)... a sore loser (US 2008).

Speaking of analogies:

Freedom of Press: Yeah right... reinforce it with the possibilities of, i.e., write in a blog like these... but where is the US so call freedom of press in big issues like the middle-east wars, or even in something so simple as the medal count of this olympic games?

Freedom of assembly: the Patriot Act comes to my mind inmediatly... for not to mention the obscure past within US during the 20th Century...

and democratic elections: Someone besides me and the entire world remember the Gore-Bush elections...

Congratulations... there you have it... 3 more Bronze Medals (barely... Gold only in your dreams of grandeur)... put it on your medal account, even that way i doubt you beat China in the Olympics.

Finally... not everything is that wrong when you read the vast mayority of the posts, and see that some of the US people didnt fall easily on this new US media scam, that the common people in the US dont let their pride blind his reason. And see that the leadership and admiration can be reach not with the power of money, or the treath of arms and wars... but in moments like these: with fair play, brotherhood and goodwill, together as mankind.

With 5 times the population of the USA, China SHOULD have proportionally more medals, period.

Posted by: TrueFan1947

In reply to the above comment by TrueFan1947:

US has 82 medals in total with about 300 million population.
Australia has 36 medals in total with about 30 million population.

By your standards and calculations, US should have 360 medals, as the population is about 10 time more than Australia?

If China do surpass US in total medal tally at the end fo the Games, I think US media may start to rank by Silver medals to maintain US' top position, as I don't think China could surpass the Silver medal record of the US, as they are trying hard to go for Gold.

You sound like a sore loser.

I think there should be an Idiolympics for people like you and you would definitely win the Gold medal for the most idiotic and ignorant remarks. If you keep posting stupid remarks like this, perhaps you could overcome the great Michael Phelps' phenomenal record of 8 Gold medals!

Come on, where's the true spirit of sportsmanship that the Olympics promote?

Shame on the US media too!

why does olympic games award gold/ silver/ bronze? Is gold the best performer? when you train for the oylmpic, you aim for gold first is that not right?
Gold signifies the best performer.The top gold and most gold achieved should rank the first and second comes the total number of medals.
What happens if the country gets all total 71 medal but all are bronze and another country gets 70 medal and are all gold? would you rank that country with the most bronze to be number one and the best performer than the 70 gold medal which another coyntry has achieved? Think to you rself. What is gold?? if a coounty can get so may gold, it means they are damn good and the best performer and should be at the top of ranking. If a country were to get bronze, it is only the third best in the competition and to get all bronze does not show the strength of their performer. It is the GOLD achievers that is superior. Those who wnat ther total medal tally and not best on the GOLD is a sore loser!!!



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