How did UK do when we consider volume of participants, GDP, and funding?
- The UK comes 12th on GDP alternative table
- UK is only 29th in medal per participant table
- Para-athletics, Para-swimming and Para-cycling receives the highest funding in the UK, winning the highest amount of medals
The Paralympics shifted perceptions about how society views disabilities.
The 2008 Beijing Paralympics saw an extraordinary increase in accessible infrastructure across China. And post London 2012 there was a significant upsurge in employment of people with disabilities across the UK. There’s no doubt events like the Paralympics can be transformative.
China, The UK and The USA. The overall winners in terms of number of medals are hardly surprising – Unrivalled economies and vast populations remain hard to beat – there are additional considerations:
- The types of sports played – individual sports can win more medals than group sports
- Participant numbers
But medals alone are not a true measure of success for each country. But by looking at medals per GDP, population and funding, we can highlight The Game’s great overachievers.
The original score table of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics
|1||People’s Republic of China||96||60||51||207|
|3||United States of America||37||36||31||104|
Alternative Tokyo 2020 Paralympics table – medal per GDP
Looking at global GDP per capita in US$ – a commonly used metric for predicting Olympic medals – the table changes drastically. Whilst The UK comes in just shy of the top 10 (in position 12) and China and Russia maintain a vicelike grip on the top of the table, Ukraine are The Games’ big winners.
Famed for its castles, ancient cities and The Klitschko brothers, Europe’s largest country comes out on top of medals per GDP table. Uzbekistan, Nigeria, and Morocco are other equally excellent performers.
|Rank||Country||Gold||Silver||Bronze||Total||GDP per capita|
|2||People’s Republic of China||96||60||51||207||11713|
This suggest that while GDP indeed is an important factor, political factors such as spending on sports and building accessible facilities are also imperative to achieving Paralympic success.
Alternative Tokyo 2020 Paralympics Table – medal per participant volume
When it comes to Olympic medal predictions, a large GDP, population, funding and a powerful political system makes medal success an almost foregone conclusion.
However, when it comes to The Paralympics the calculation gets more complex. By looking at participant volume as opposed to population data, we can see that countries with a smaller population who sent comparatively fewer athletes performed admirably.
In this breakdown, Netherlands did particularly well and took home 11 extra medals for their headcount which is an extraordinary achievement.
In this table, The UK comes in 29th place.
This is largely driven by the large number of participants in team sports. The 24 participants in wheelchair basketball only account for one medal. Same with wheelchair rugby’s 12 participants.
Alternative Tokyo 2020 Paralympics Table – most medal wins per sport per funding figures UK
Whilst funding is a key predictor for success, having limited funding doesn’t consign a sport to the doldrums of medal anonymity.
By analysing the total funding figures utilised for the Tokyo Paralympics, including both the World Class Programme funding as coming from the National Lottery as well as the Athlete Performance Awards.
The data shows that while there is a clear connection between funding and medal wins, there are a few sports such as Para-Table Tennis, Wheelchair Fencing and Wheelchair tennis that did extremely well compared to the funding that was available.
This could be a result of several factors. However, the general view is that these sports tend to be cheaper due to requiring less equipment. For example, in wheelchair fencing most equipment can be borrowed from the relevant clubs and centres, reducing the upfront costs even further.
In the case of wheelchair tennis, which is one of the few sports where winners can receive prize money, it can certainly become a motivating factor and increase wins.
Alternative Tokyo 2020 Paralympics Table – highest participant numbers per sport for UK
Participant data is useful for determining a sport`s overall popularity, regardless of competition or leisure.
The theory that funding determines the wins seem to be true for the UK, however a further analysis of participant data reveals something slightly different – that team sports are on top of the list when it comes to participants.
One of the main changes in the table here is of Wheelchair Rugby, which seems to have the smallest funding of them all yet have done extremely well for winning a gold medal.
The data also reveals that Para-athletics has 23% of all participants, making it the most popular type of sport, followed by Para-swimming and Para-cycling.