US Olympic swimming and athletics prove their worth once again: Data Viz

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The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) awards millions of dollars in grants each year to individual sports federations, usually with the aim of increasing the country’s total medal count, according to Sporticoanalysis of.

And when we look at the results of the Tokyo Olympics, two sports accustomed to both USOPC funding and high medals – swimming and track and field – have stayed true to their form.

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A comparison of the results of the Tokyo Olympics along with the total funding given to each sport between 2017 and 2019 reveals which American sports have had the most success in that Olympic cycle in terms of return on investment.

For the third consecutive Summer Games, the United States won at least 50% more swimming medals and more than twice as many athletics medals as the top-winning nations in each sport. Remove those disciplines, and the United States would have finished third behind China and ROC in medal aggregate.

These two sports accounted for just over one-fifth of USOPC funding over the past three fiscal years, but they brought in 56 medals, compared to 57 for all other sports combined. They represent the most reliable financial investments of the USOPC. This despite an unusually poor performance on the track by the American male runners, who failed to win a solo gold medal for the first time in modern Olympic history.

Another effective use of the spending went to the four new sports of the Olympic Games: skateboarding, surfing, karate and sport climbing. None reached the top half of summer Olympic sports in terms of financial support in 2019, but each placed at least one American athlete on the podium in Tokyo. Karate aside, they will all be back as events in Paris in 2024.

USA Climbing didn’t receive any money from the USOPC until 2019, when it suddenly got $ 516,250. Expect that number to increase in the future, as an additional medal for each gender will be up for grabs in 2024. The United States also has a promising outlook with 20-year-old Brooke Raboutou who finished fifth in women , and 17 years old. -old Colin Duffy, who finished seventh overall in men and was Tokyo’s youngest climber.

As usual, team sports were expensive operations as each only has the potential to bring in a small number of medals. Of the sports that brought home medals, water polo, volleyball and soccer were the three least profitable, but basketball fared significantly better. The men’s and women’s 5v5 teams won gold, as did the inaugural women’s 3×3 Olympic team. In fact, if the USOPC cared only about winning gold medals, basketball offered the best ROI of any sport.

Even more lucrative, however, was baseball, with its 1: 0 medals / dollar ratio. The USOPC decided not to allocate a dime to USA Baseball, as the sport had been out of the Olympics since 2008 and will not be. return until at least 2028. Major League Baseball also does not allow players on lists of 40 players to participate in the Olympics. Nonetheless, the American lineup of free agents and minor leaguers got the money.

A review of the distribution of USOPC funds reveals that the organization has essentially lost confidence in six sports due to their performances at this century’s Olympics: canoe, badminton, team handball, modern pentathlon, artistic swimming and table tennis. None have won a medal in 2008, 2012 or 2016, and the United States has not even fielded a handball team since 1996, when it automatically qualified as the host nation.

Surprisingly, despite minimal USOPC funding for the canoeing team, Nevin Harrison, 19, became the first American woman to win a gold medal in the sport by upsetting a six-time sprint world champion. of 200 meters. His victory could pave the way for more money for the discipline in the future.

Coincidentally, on the other end of the spectrum are two watersports that received a shipment of funding from the USOPC, only to leave Tokyo empty-handed: rowing and sailing.

The sailing team’s bagel in the medal count continues a negative trend in Olympic performance for a sport that ranks in the top 10 for USOPC financial support. Typically, sports that produce only one bronze medal in three Olympics will see their cash flow reduced.

Conversely, the 2020 Olympics marked the first time since 1908 that the United States has sent athletes to the Games and failed to win a medal in either men’s or women’s rowing. The result comes as men’s head coach Mike Teti is the subject of a USOPC investigation for alleged misconduct. The women’s and men’s eight both finished fourth overall, so they narrowly missed the podium, and the women’s squad was mostly made up of new faces, so the American Rowing Association can look forward to coming back strong. in three years.


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