Host Nations That Owned The Podium At The Olympics
The London 2012 Olympic Games are officially over, but fans all across the U.K. are still celebrating. Both the London 2012 organizing committee and Team Great Britain put on a great show. Fans worldwide were enthralled by the opening and closing ceremonies, and the athletes from Great Britain took home a total of 65 medals - including 29 gold medals. With 65 medals, Great Britain finished fourth in total medals on the medal table, and third when it comes to gold medals. There are many other nations that have performed well at the Olympics they hosted, as there is always an effort to put on the best show possible for the home crowd. Here is a look at some host nations with high medal counts at the Olympics they hosted.
Canada - Vancouver 2010
In 2004, 13 Canadian winter national sports organizations met to develop a program called "Own The Podium." The goal was to help Canadian athletes perform the best they could on the world stage. "Own The Podium" cost C$117 million to implement and C$66 million of that amount came from Canadian tax payers. In 2010, the Canadian Government doubled its funding for the program from C$11 million to C$22 million. "Own The Podium" paid off and Team Canada finished third in the overall medal standings at the 2010 Vancouver Games with 26 medals behind the U.S. and Germany. More Impressive was the fact that Team Canada won 14 gold medals, the most ever at any Winter Games.
China - Beijing 2008
The sheer amount of time and money invested by China in the 2008 Beijing Games was almost as impressive as the amount of medals Team China won. The 2008 Olympic Games were the most costly ever at around US$40 billion. However, the costs were likely worth it to see Chinese athletes perform, and win, in spectacular venues. In 2008, Chinese gold medal winners received around US$55,000 each for finishing first on the podium. The investment paid off as China took home the most gold medals overall with 51, and finished second in the overall medal count with 100 medals. The U.S. slightly edged out China by winning 110 medals total.
Australia - Sydney 2000
For a nation with a relatively small population of just over 22.5 million, Australia always performs well at the summer Olympics. This was no exception at the 2000 Sydney Games. Australia finished fourth in overall medals and gold medals with 58 and 16 respectively. Team Australia was just one medal shy of Team China in the overall medal standings, and China had a population over 65 times as large at the time. Australia has won 449 medals at all the summer games and joins Greece as only one of two countries to attend all Olympic Games in the modern era. In 2010, the Australian Government committed to investing AU$1.2 billion over a four-year period to increase sports funding.
United States - Salt Lake City 2002, Atlanta 1996, Los Angeles 1984
The U.S routinely finishes in the top spot at both the Summer and Winter Games. Today, it's almost unheard of for Team USA to finish outside the top three (the last time it happened was in 1994). It finished second overall in the 2002 Salt Lake Games with 34 medals, and first in gold medals and total medals at the 1996 Atlanta Games with 44 and 101 medals respectively. The U.S. absolutely dominated at the 1984 summer Games in Los Angeles, Calif. However, the U.S had much less stiff competition thanks to the Soviet Union boycotting the Games. Team USA won 174 medals, including 83 gold, at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.
Soviet Union - Moscow 1980
Here's another example of host nation success that is somewhat marred by lack of competition. The U.S.S.R won 195 medals, including 80 gold, at the 1980 summer Games in Moscow. However, the U.S. boycotted the games in protest of the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. While the Soviet Union is now dismantled, Russia has a chance to finish well at the 2014 Sochi Games.
Winning a gold medal is something Olympic athletes train a lifetime for. It's an exhilarating experience to be sure, but it's all that much sweeter when the medal is won in front of a home crowd. These nations showed that home turf can make a difference and either dominated or exceeded expectations at the Games they hosted. It's quite unlikely we'll see another host country finish first in overall medals and gold medals again until the U.S or China hosts another Summer Olympics. However, Russia could perform very well at the Sochi Games and it's certainly possible that Brazil could finish in the top ten at the Rio 2016 Games.
SEE: True Value Of An Olympic Medal