The United States has finished in the top-three of the total medal count in every Olympics in which the country has participated. This is an impressive feat, to be sure, but is far from surprising considering that the U.S. has always had one of the largest populations in the world.
Far more impressive is the Olympics prowess of Australia. A country of 21 million, Australia has finished fourth in the medal count in the past two Olympics, despite ranking as the world's 53rd most populous country. Per capita, Australia won one medal for every 428,000 citizens in 2004. This is in stark contrast to India, the world's second most populous country, that won one medal for every 1.2 billion people. (Indian athletes earned just one medal in Athens.)
The Bahamas had the best per capita medal rate in the '04 Games. The small island nation has a population roughly the size of Wichita, but still managed to win two medals at the last Olympics. (Residents of Wichita came back from Athens empty-handed. Slackers.)
This year's Olympic hosts, China, have one of the worst medal rates, mainly due to their massive 1.3 billion population. But don't blame the Communist Party for China's Olympic woes. Their comrades-in-arms in Cuba ranked 3rd in 2004's per capita medal rate, just below The Bahamas and Australia. Take that, Joseph McCarthy!
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