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Professor predicts Rio medal haul


A University of Wolverhampton professor who predicted Team GB’s medal tally at London 2012 is estimating the athletes will bring home a haul of 46 medals from Rio.

Professor Alan Nevill devised a mathematical formula based on performance at previous Olympic Games and taking into account the effect of being the host nation in 2012.

In a 2009 research paper, the biostatistician predicted Great Britain would win 63 medals at London 2012 – and he was very close to the final tally, with the team winning 65.

To make the prediction, Professor Nevill looked at all hosting cities or countries since World War II and analysed the number of medals awarded to competitors. He identified a significant increase in the probability of a country obtaining a medal in the Olympic Games before, during and after hosting the Olympics.

The Rio prediction is very close to the target set by UK Sport in July 2016 of making Rio 2016 Team GB’s most successful overseas Olympics by winning 48 medals.

Professor Nevill, from the University’s Institute of Sport, said: “Home advantage in the summer Olympic Games is well known. What is not so well known is that countries that host the Olympic Games perform better in the games before and after the games in which they were hosts.

“We see an elevation in performance and success, as measured by the final medal tally, in the games surrounding. Team GB had a nice lift at the Beijing 2008 Games and I would expect a similar elevation at the Rio 2016 games. 

“The reason is that the governing bodies receive better investment once a country knows it is going to host the Olympics which explains the elevation before the host games.

“The infrastructure and training facilities receive significant investment which impacts on performance afterwards. New velodromes, swimming pools and other facilities have been developed and this infrastructure is still in place after the host Games.

“So British sports fans should anticipate continued success in 2016, not dissimilar to that achieved at the Beijing Olympics. Based on the model parameters and the assumption of approximately 1000 medals on offer, Great Britain should win approximately 46 Olympic medals.

“The fact that UK Sport has now set a similar target for Team GB shows how robust the methods were in the 2009 research.”

Professor Nevill first made the prediction in a research paper following Team GB’s success at the Beijing games in 2008.

The research, titled ‘Why Great Britain’s success in Beijing could have been anticipated and why it should continue beyond 2012’, was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in May 2009.

Professor Alan Nevill is a specialist in biostatistics applied to health, sport and exercise sciences.

He is also the former Editor in Chief of The Journal of Sports Sciences.


Note: A copy of the research paper is available on request

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Date Issued: 4th August 2016

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