Armenia, Georgia make gains in Medals Per Capita count
As a rule, Medals Per Capita aims for flippancy and facetiousness and Olympic ideal by ignoring global politics and refraining from any related poignancy.
That could prove difficult given Georgia.
In Wednesday’s Medals Per Capita, the gauge of national Olympic performance that’s wildly, gapingly, exponentially and profoundly superior to the lazy, shiftless, corrupt and standard medals table, Georgia rocketed from No. 11 to No. 2.
It lodged just behind two-day front-runner and fellow former Soviet republic Armenia, even as the Georgian athletes knew their homeland suffered a new and comprehensively depressing war with Russia.
Yet Irakli Tsirekidze won gold in men’s middleweight judo, and Manuchar Kvirkelin gold in men’s Greco-Roman wrestling, tripling Georgia’s medal total to three from a smallish population of 4,630,841, for a sterling MPC rating of one medal per every 1,543,614 Georgians.
Their concentration terribly impressive, Tsirekidze and Kvirkelin helped Georgia make some trivial news, joining Wednesday’s MPC movers and shakers alongside Switzerland, which rode a cluster of cycling medals from No. 21 to No. 4. Georgia surpassed even the stalwart third-place Australians, who ratcheted their medal count to 12 but suffered slightly from even their restrained birth rate and a population of 20,600,856.
Switzerland, a budding MPC menace with its agreeable population total of merely 7,581,520, ran fourth with Roger Federer still loose in the men’s tennis draw.
And then, just as Georgia nipped portentously at Armenia, trailing only 1.4 million-1.5 million at one point, the latter leapt further ahead, reaping a third medal -- all bronze -- when Gevorg Davtyan literally lifted a small nation in the men’s 69-77 kilogram weightlifting event.
That gave Armenia three more medals than it won in all of 2004, and given a population of 2,968,586, pared its Medals Per Capita from 1,484,293 to 989,529, making it the first country in these Olympics to undercut the 1 million mark. Four ex-Soviet republics dot the top 10, including also No. 7 Kyrgyzstan and No. 8 Azerbaijan.
Meanwhile, in the fraudulent medals table, the United States held an allegedly thrilling 29-27 lead over China, both countries benefiting from gigantic populations that have reaped numerous medals and numerous traffic jams.
As Medals Per Capita holds a candle for countries with smaller populations because of their willingness to minimize traffic jams, here’s a special call-out for Mongolia, which debuted in the top 10 when Gundegmaa Otryad won her country’s first medal, a silver in the women’s 25-meter sport pistol event.
As MPC intellectuals would remember, if only there were any MPC intellectuals, Mongolia camped a while in the Athens 2004 top 10, a treat for Americans who never get to hear much about Mongolia. With a population mercifully below 3 million, the Mongolians got an Athens bronze from Khashbaataryn Tsagaanbaatar, who suffered an upset loss this time around to Israel’s Gal Yekutiel, else MPC would’ve been awash in the teaching of Mongolian trivia.
Not that it can’t be one day soon, still.
The top 10 after Wednesday:
1. Armenia (3) - 989,529
2. Georgia (3) - 1,543,614
3. Australia (12) - 1,716,738
4. Switzerland (4) - 1,895,380
5. Slovenia (1) - 2,007,711
6. Slovakia (2) - 2,622,375
7. Kyrgyzstan (2) - 2,678,435
8. Azerbaijan (3) - 2,725,905
9. Finland (2) - 2,727,704
10. Mongolia (1) - 2,996,081
13. North Korea (7) - 3,354,156
14. South Korea (13) - 3,787,142
25. France (11) - 5,823,435
26. Togo (1) - 5,858,673
30. Great Britain (7) - 8,706,273
31. Germany (9) - 9,152,172
32. United States (29) - 10,476,712
36. Japan (9) - 14,143,158
42. China (27) - 49,260,911
49. Indonesia (2) - 118,756,177
-- Chuck Culpepper
Culpepper is a contributor to The Times.
Photo: Irakli Tsirekidze's gold-medal performance in the men's 90-kilogram judo competition pushes Georgia up in the Medals Per Capita standings. Credit: Olivier Morin / AFP / Getty Images