You’ve seen the political projections. Now let’s get to the ones that matter.
The Olympics happen every four years. (Think of the Winter Games as the midterms.) The competition is a little more honest than the typical U.S. election, and you don’t have to sit through insulting political ads.
We’re going to go sport-by-sport through the Olympics and project winners in London. We’ll base it on past results. Like FiveThirtyEight.com, we’ll be able to update our projections based on recent data. In our case, though, that’ll be actual competition such as World Cups and World Championships, not polls. Another advantage we’ll have over FiveThirtyEight.com — less math.
Let’s get right to it with an event NBC probably won’t feature in great detail:
First rule upon checking results: Ignore compound bows. Nothing personal, but they’re not in the Olympics. Seems a shame for the USA, because Americans tend to do pretty well with the high-tech stuff. What we’re dealing with here is the more traditional “recurve” bow.
Women’s individual: South Korean dominance ran into home advantage in Beijing, as China’s Zhang Juanjuan won gold ahead of 2004 champion Park Sung-Hyun. That ended a streak of six straight golds for South Korea, but the 2010 World Cup results give little sign that South Korea is going away. Four of the top six women in the rankings were South Korean, led by Ki Bo Bae in first and World Cup final champion Yun Ok-Hee in fourth. India has an outside shot with two contenders — Deepika Kumari and Dola Banerjee. Poland’s Justyna Mospinek is the best spoiler.
2008: Zhang Juanjuan (China), Park Sung-Hyun (South Korea), Yun Ok-Hee (South Korea).
Projection: South Korea, South Korea, India.
Top Americans: Khatuna Lorig (18th in World Cup), Jennifer Nichols (17th in world ranking)
Women’s team: South Korea could probably enter two teams and win medals here if the IOC allowed it. They’ve won all six women’s team events in modern Olympic history. India gets the edge for silver based on World Cup results. Bronze is wide open — 2008 silver medalist China, bronze medalist France, rankings-round runner-up Great Britain and Italy are among the contenders. We’d go with the hosts if their world ranking were any higher than 16th. Instead, we’ll take second-ranked China.
2008: South Korea, China, France.
Projection: South Korea, India, China.
Men’s individual: The USA has a decent shot, with ageless Vic Wunderle (silver, 2000) still going and Brady Ellison taking the World Cup prize in 2010. South Korea is deep, with three straight team golds. Italy has a good track record in the team event and a couple of top performers in the World Cup. But outsiders are a threat in this event — Mexico’s Juan Rene Serrano won the Beijing ranking round before finishing fourth in the knockout phase, and Ukraine’s Viktor Ruban squeaked through to gold past South Korea’s Park Kyung-Mo.
2008: Viktor Ruban (Ukraine), Park Kyung-Mo (South Korea), Bair Badenov (Russia).
Projection: USA, South Korea, Italy.
Top Americans: Ellison, Wunderle.
Men’s team: In Beijing, China made a stunning run from 12th in the ranking round to take bronze. We’ll chalk that up to home advantage and focus on the South Korea-Italy tandem frequently on top here. Bronze is open, with Ukraine getting the nod on current World Cup rankings and Ruban’s medal experience (2004 team bronze in addition to 2008 individual gold).
2008: South Korea, Italy, China.
Projection: South Korea, Italy, Ukraine.
TOTAL PROJECTION (Gold-silver-bronze, 2008 gold-silver-bronze, total change):
– South Korea: 5 medals (3-2-0, 2-2-1, no change)
– India: 2 medals (0-1-1, 0-0-0, +2)
– Italy: 2 medals (0-1-1, 0-1-0, +1)
– USA: 1 medal (1-0-0, 0-0-0, +1)
– China: 1 medal (0-0-1, 1-1-1, -2)
– Ukraine: 1 medal (0-0-1, 1-0-0, no change)
– Russia: 0 medals (-1)
– France: 0 medals (-1)
– World championships: July 2-10, Torino