London 2012 Olympics: Great Britain even greater on medals map

The map shows Great Britain to be punching above its weight

The map shows Great Britain to be punching above its weight

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AN INTERACTIVE atlas that distorts the size of countries to reflect the number of medals won at London 2012 shows just how well Team GB has performed.

The map, designed by a researcher at St Andrews University’s Centre for GeoInformatics, displays the distribution of medals across all participating countries as well as the number of medals by population. It is continually updated to reflect the changing medal tally.

When countries are reconfigured by population size, Britain swells considerably.

The United States, predicted to win most medals, appears smaller than usual and second-placed China shrinks to a fraction of its actual size because of its massive population.

India, for example, is doing poorly considering its population size, while Slovenia and New Zealand are faring well.

The size of each country corresponds with the number of medals achieved, further weighted by the type of medal. A country with one gold medal should be approximately the same size as a country with three bronzes.

Carson Farmer, research fellow at the Centre for GeoInformatics, said he had created the map after realising no existing ones provided any real context for comparing Team GB with other nations.

“Being a geographer, I decided to add context by creating a contiguous cartogram where we could compare total medals versus per-capita medals visually,” he said.

“A cartogram also provides context, in that the general shapes and locations of the countries remain relatively close to what people expect. So, for instance, it is very easy to see that Europe has lots of medals per capita.”

He went on: “Basically, it warps the shapes of countries to change their area relative to some measured value, which in this case is the number of medals achieved.”

A cartogram is a map on which statistics are shown as a type of diagram.

The St Andrews centre’s map is updated every hour and it 
can be viewed at st-andrews.ac.uk/geoinformatics.

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