In this project, we have worked on the data of the Olympic medals of gymnastics event from 1984 to 2016. Through studying the trend, we aim to figure if there is any underlying reasons behind the changes in the number of medals; for instance, the training methods, the ethnic combination of the team and political reasons.
The overall statistics as follow:
We can see that there were actually not a lot of countries gaining medals in this event.
Over the past 32 years, the US and China received the biggest number of Olympic medals in the gymnastic events. We would look at these two countries in details. Thus, apart from these two strongest countries, we have figured that the UK team also hold some interesting phenomenon that is worthwhile to be mentioned.
The US has become a strong team from 2004-2008, but recorded a significant fall in 2012. Some people attribute that to the fact that they have hired Chinese team coaches, and they would take some time for adaptation.
It is also interesting to know the ethnic combination of the team. The 1992 team had two gymnast of colour out of the six team members. In 1996, the team size enlarged to seven with two Asian American gymnast, and there was similar development along the line. In 2007, USA Gymnastics commissioned a study to measure the diversity within the sport and found just a little under 7% of the overall gymnastics population in the U.S. was African American comparing to the about 13% of the general population. It is suggested that African Americans are underrepresented in the sport but then medal numbers of 2016 is peaked with Simone Bile, an African American joining the team being named as the best gymnastics player of all time.
China has been the strongest one among the 37 teams, throughout the past 20 years, it had 73 medals in total. During 2004 -2008, there was a 350% increase in the number of medals won by China. China won 1 gold in 2004, while it obtained 11 golds in 2008 Beijing Games, with an increase of 1000%. Its number of medals kept decreasing since then.
Among all the Asia countries with medals obtained, China is obviously the dominating nations with over 65% in the total number of medals in gymnastics.
It was argued that the old-fashioned respect in the relationship between pupil and teacher, made China a strong team, especially for gymnasts who started training around 5 years old. In the 2008 Beijing Games, Chinese gymnasts were involved in an underage scandal when the women’s team lifted the gold medal. It was reported that one member, He Kexin, was only 14 at the time. The International Gymnastics Federation launched an investigation, but could not find any evidence of cheating.
What about UK – who is growing fast in this decade?
It is also worth reading regarding the relationship between funding and the results. The Great Britain finally got the first medal in 2008. It is known that in the past 20 years, British gymnastics has experienced a steady increase in public investment from from £5.9m at Sydney 2000 to £14.6m in the current cycle. It benefited from a 36% funding increase after beating its medal target in London 2012, and finally in 2016, British got the first gymnastics Olympic champion, Max Whitlock with double gold.
* For further reference of the graphs, please go to: https://public.tableau.com/shared/4PHNRX26P?:display_count=yes
*Some other reference: