As of 15 August, Team GB has 38 medals compared to Team USA’s 69 medals and China’s 45 medals. OK, so in real terms we are second and although that in itself is a tremendous achievement, it becomes far more impressive when you factor in the relative populations.
The USA has approximately 5 times more people than Great Britain and China a staggering 21 times more people, so applying a medal earning per ‘share’ ratio, Great Britain would be well in the lead.
Roughly GB would have the same 38 medals, USA would have 14 and China just over 2!
Obviously it cant just be about population otherwise India, Indonesia, Pakistan and the hosts Brazil would be way in front of Great Britain. But in fact, again as of today India and Pakistan currently have no medals and Michael Phelps himself has as many as Brazil.
So if its not about population, is it about GDP?
Well, yes, probably, the USA GDP is about 6 times that of Great Britain and China’s 4 times greater and the emerging economies are by definition lower down the GDP table.
But if Olympic success is based on GDP then we should see Germany and Japan above Great Britain in the medals table.
My personal belief is that it’s about commitment, commitment of the athletes, commitment of the coaches and commitment from the government to provide support and funding.
The United States doesn't provide government funding directly to its athletes, in fact many US Olympians have turned to crowdfunding to support their training and participation and there’s a long history of corporate sponsorship, particularly for the more high profile sports.
China is not as transparent as other nations and therefore exact funding figures are unknown, however we do know that there is a heavily funded training programme supported by the Chinese government.
In Great Britain the funding is channelled through UK Sport who have a remit to; “strategically invest National Lottery and Exchequer income to maximise the performance of UK athletes in the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
Much of this support goes into ensuring athletes have access to support personnel and training environments to ensure they are among the best prepared in the world.
Investment decisions are made on a four year basis to cover a complete Olympic or Paralympic cycle but are focussed on an eight year performance development model.
Success is measured by the medals won, the number of medallists developed, and the quality of the systems and processes in place to find and support the nation’s most promising future champions.
Now how about we had such a vigorous and structured process in place for developing Great British businesses?
Imagine if there were support systems, proper government investment in potential high growth businesses, funded training programmes, expert coaching and mentoring.
Not only would Great Britain be punching above its weight in the Olympics but we could also transform the economic landscape and deliver consistent, tangible and profitable results - now there’s a thought!