Wednesday, 17 August 2016
Rio Olympics 2016: Can Team GB finish above China in the medal table?
With more than 200 gold medals to their name, China have become one of the dominant nations in the Olympics since their debut in 1984.
In that time, Great Britain have never finished above them in the medal table.
But after nine days of the Rio 2016 Games, Team GB sat second in the standings, level with the Chinese on 15 golds but three ahead on silver medals.
With seven days to go, could Britain retain their hold on second?
How have they done so far?
Statistics accurate up to and including the ninth day of competition.
Team GB are well on their way to achieving their target of at least 48 medals in Rio, which would be their best-ever haul from an 'away' Olympics.
They have 38 so far - 15 gold, 16 silver and seven bronze - and one more than they had at the same stage in 2012 and 13 more than in Beijing in 2008.
Britain have secured medals from 14 different events, performing best in cycling, swimming, gymnastics and rowing.
After day nine, China have 45 medals - 15 gold, 13 silver and 17 bronze - from 12 sports. They have achieved stunning success in the diving and weightlifting, with a glut of medals to come in badminton and table tennis, too.
Gold Silver Bronze Total
Great Britain & N. Ireland 15 16 7 38
Athletics 1 1 1 3
Canoeing 1 1 0 2
Cycling 4 2 1 7
Diving 1 0 1 2
Equestrian 0 1 0 1
Golf 1 0 0 1
Gymnastics 2 2 1 5
Judo 0 0 1 1
Rowing 3 2 0 5
Rugby sevens 0 1 0 1
Sailing 0 1 0 1
Shooting 0 0 2 2
Swimming 1 5 0 6
Tennis 1 0 0 1
Gold Silver Bronze Total
China 15 13 17 45
Athletics 1 1 0 2
Cycling 1 0 0 1
Diving 4 1 1 6
Fencing 0 1 1 2
Gymnastics 0 1 4 5
Judo 0 0 2 2
Rowing 0 0 2 2
Sailing 0 1 0 1
Shooting 1 2 4 7
Swimming 1 2 3 6
Table Tennis 2 2 0 4
Weightlifting 5 2 0 7
How have they fared at previous Games?
China have topped the medal table just once - at their own Games in Beijing in 2008, when they finished with 15 more gold medals than the United States.
In eight Summer Games, they have only been out of the top four once - in 1988, when they were down in 11th after winning five gold medals.
In that same period, GB have never finished higher than third and were a lowly 36th in 1996, when Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Matthew Pinsent won the men's coxless pair for the team's one and only gold medal in Atlanta.
How could the final table look?
Great Britain and China will definitely add to their gold medal tally between now and the end of the Games.
Team GB are guaranteed a gold in the sailing, for example, with Giles Scott assured of victory in the men's finn class.
They also have good medal prospects in reigning champions Charlotte Dujardin (dressage), Nicola Adams (boxing), Mo Farah (5,000m), Alistair Brownlee (triathlon) and Jade Jones (taekwondo).
China can expect to pick up more medals in the diving. They have four gold medals already but look strong in the three remaining events, the men's 3m springboard and the men's and women's 10m platform.
Qiu Bo, runner-up in London 2012, will be favourite for the 10m platform gold, with GB hopes resting on Tom Daley.
Then there are the badminton finals to come. China won all five gold medals in London and most of those champions are chasing more glory in Rio.
Simon Gleave, head of analysis at Gracenote, which produces a Virtual Medal Table for the Olympics, predicts a GB haul of 60 medals, with 22 golds.
That is "unlikely" to be enough to beat China, reckoned Gleave, but he said the "gold medal race looks like it could be close".
He added: "Britain looks like taking the lead in gold medals today. That lead should last until at least Wednesday, but Britain will need to pick up more gold medals than the seven we currently project to take second place.
"Predicting medals per event is a very challenging process, particularly if trying to get the colour of the medal correct.
"The smallest things can change medallists and order of medals in sports in which margins between the top competitors are already tiny."
How close can we get to the USA?
Not just yet.
USA have topped the medal table at four of the past five Games and they will do again in 2016. Since Atlanta 1996 they have achieved 100-plus medals four times and average 101.6.
What is stark is how GB have closed the gap on their transatlantic rivals, as the table above shows.
If GB continue to improve their medal tally at future Games, and deny USA in some events, that difference could keep coming down.