12 February 2018 0 Comments Posted By : John Cherwa

Olympics Buzz: Total gold or total medals? There’s more than one way to rate success

This is your daily infusion of information and news that you might have missed.

The United States picked up two medals on Sunday, one gold and one silver. So, in the world of Olympic medal standings, is that one medal or two? That depends.

Most organizations and record-keepers use the gold standard when deciding how to rank the countries. But in the United States, a lot of organizations such as the Los Angeles Times, USA Today and The Associated Press (which also offers the gold standings) list the rankings based on total medals.

The reason is simple. In a sporting event brimming with jingoism, the United States always looks better in total medals, and that goes directly to the size of its delegation. In fact, when the U.S. Olympic Committee sets its secret goal for medals, it’s usually total medals. It may have a gold goal too, but it’s the total it talks about.

In the Summer Games, it doesn’t seem to matter a whole lot. The U.S. crushed both the gold and total counts in Rio and London. But in 2008 in Beijing, The U.S. was second in gold but first in total medals.

The Winter Games, where the reindeer countries do exceptionally well at sports the U.S. struggles in, such as cross country and biathlon, it’s a different story.

In the last Winter Olympics in Sochi, the U.S. was fourth in gold but second in total medals. In 2010 in Vancouver, it was second in gold and first in total. Turin, Italy, hosted the 2006 Games, where the U.S. was second and second and if you go back to Salt Lake City in 2002, the U.S. was third in gold and second in total.

There is a national obsession over the medals table, which is as much a staple of the Games as the raising of the flag. It’s OK; everyone wants to think their country is the best.


The early feel-good story of the Games has been the combined women’s hockey team of North and South Korea. When they play, the score will never matter, it’s the fact they are a team after practicing together for less than a month.

But did Angela Ruggiero, a member of the International Olympic Committee, get caught up in the moment when she said: “I would love the team to get the Nobel Peace Prize”?

No doubt, sports and natural disasters are the two greatest unifiers of people. In this case, will it last into the month of March?


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