Medals Per Capita's Lovefest with Slovenia
In a world forever inexplicable, some readers saw Medals Per Capita’s tribute to the Slovenian Olympic team on Sunday and misconstrued it as Slovenia-slighting sarcasm.
Au contraire: Medals Per Capita has total Slovenia fever.
For while Medals Per Capita does occasionally worship at the first church of sarcasm, especially when directed at the Olympic kingdoms of self-importance, it absolutely considers Slovenia the best-performing Olympic nation thus far in Beijing.
After all, Medals Per Capita, even with its grudgingly admitted mathematical imperfections, certainly trumps the tyrannical Medals Table and its myopic establishment when measuring national performance. It serves as a mild egalitarian force inveighing against a crummy world, splashing note upon the typically overlooked.
The unfairly overlooked would include the gorgeous gumdrop of a country on the Adriatic Sea, Slovenia, which on Tuesday even deepened its foray into long-division excellence.
Not only did Slovenian sailor Vasilij Zbogar take silver in one of the best-named events of all, the men’s sailing laser one-person dinghy, but in doing so he brought Slovenia’s medal count to five. From a nation of only 2,007,711, that's a true-north Medals Per Capita rating of 401,542 (one medal for every 401,542 Slovenians).
And not only did he strengthen Slovenia’s position at No. 1 in the only legit Olympic standings, but after finishing second, he suddenly stood on his dinghy, leapt into the water, swam over, reached up and yanked British gold medalist Paul Goodison off his boat and into the choppy water for a festive embrace and celebration with the skyline in the distant background.
Even from a guy who finished No. 2, 'twas a moment befitting nation No. 1.
In Medals Per Capita minutiae on Tuesday:
-- Medals Per Capita would like to salute Rashid Ramzi, whose victory in the men’s 1,500 meters gave Bahrain its first gold medal in Olympic history and established the Middle East desert archipelago as a genuine MPC player, given a population of 718,306. Bahrain debuts at No. 7.
-- New Zealand won six medals in 1996, four in 2000 and five in 2004, but has a whopping eight so far in Beijing, with deeply serious MPC consequences. When on Tuesday Bevan Docherty got bronze in the triathlon and Nick Willis got bronze in the men’s 1,500 meters behind Ramzi, that catapulted the far-flung nation clear to second place in the MPC, ahead of even surging Jamaica and omnipresent Australia. There’s such a Kiwi craze around the official MPC offices in London that MPC officials might even start watching rugby.
-- Britain long has demonstrated both a knack for defeat and a knack for ridiculing itself over its knack for defeat, the latter a true greatness. Well, look here: 33 medals, 16 gold (third overall), best British Olympics in 100 years, London 2012 upcoming. Eras must end at some point and, who knows, with a fine MPC ranking of 22nd, wouldn’t it be a kick in our lives viewing sports if this long-beleaguered sporting nation suddenly turned colossus?
The top 10:
1. Slovenia (5) - one per 401,542 Slovenians
2. New Zealand (8) - 521,862
3. Jamaica (5) - 560,866
4. Australia (35) - 588,595
5. Armenia (5) - 593,717
6. Estonia (2) - 653,802
7. Bahrain (1) - 718,306
8. Belarus (11) - 880,542
9. Denmark (6) - 914,120
10. Norway (5) - 928,891
11. Cuba (11) - 1,038,541
21. Finland (3) - 1,818,649
22. Great Britain (33) - 1,846,785
28. Latvia (1) - 2,245,423
30. Canada (13) - 2,554,822
40. Russia (42) - 3,350,049
41. Greece (3) - 3,574,272
42. United States (79) - 3,845,881
58. China (76) - 17,500,586
70. Iran (1) - 65,875,223
-- Chuck Culpepper
Culpepper is a contributor to The Times.
Photo: Slovenian silver medalist Vasilij Zbogar, right, celebrates with British gold medalist Paul Goodison after the men's laser sailing competition Tuesday in Qingdao, China. Credit: AP Photo/Bernat Armangue