Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Off Topic: Olympic Gymnastics Medal Table Dynamics

Being the month of summer Olympics, here are some stats from past games while we wait for the tally from Rio (since Barcelona 92). The major highlights are
  • The spectacular rise of China, especially after Athens 2004
  • The emphatic decline of Eastern European countries in medal tally, especially after 2004
  • The great decline of Russia (includes Ukraine tally, for ease of historical data handling only) and what appears to be a recent comeback
Click the play button in below chart to see how the dynamics evolved. Select the little boxes on the right to track a particular bubble.

The change that happened was a complete revision of the point system following a judging controversy in Athens summer Olympics in 2004. This includes abolishing the "perfect 10" and introduction of "difficulty level" in scoring. 

This offers a positive skew to the participants. Choosing a high difficulty level enables one to achieve a much better chance to win a medal (and probably on the higher side - i.e. gold or silver). Although that means the execution will be difficult, and on an average they should balance out each other. However, if you aim for high difficulty levels and in rare cases manage to hit the execution, you will be sure to win a medal. This positive skew should theoretically motivate gymnasts to choose higher difficulty levels. This also means a higher variance in performance outcome.

This also should mean a higher rate of injuries for gymnasts. Unfortunately, data that I could get on this are too little to say anything statistically.

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