One danger in projecting the 2012 Games, particularly in track and field (or athletics), is that smaller countries end up underrepresented. In some cases, their athletes aren’t participating in the Diamond League or other notable meets.
Most U.S. athletes were in action in the non-championship year, many establishing themselves as medal favorites. That might change after the 2011 World Championships.
It’s hard to say the USA will win 33 medals in athletics, which is what the projection shows for now. The past few Games for the USA: Beijing 23, Athens 25, Sydney 16, Atlanta 23, Barcelona 30, Seoul 26. So 33 would be a record for the post-boycott era.
But the USA, for better or for worse, is the big dog heading into every Olympics. Americans simply aren’t the underdog in this sport. We’ll see a few upsets that keep the USA’s medal count down.
So remember that the projection is designed to point out the favorites — the USA, Kenya, Russia, Jamaica and a resurgent Germany.