When we as fans look at the Olympic medal count our eyes are always fixated at the top or possibly checking where our country of origin is sitting. Much of the talk involving the medal tallies at these Olympic Games has been revolving around powerhouses USA and China and host country Great Britain.
Unless you have ties with some of the smaller countries, the talk of fans and media alike generally stay away from focusing on them. However, some of the greatest accomplishments come from these countries, considering the amount of athletes and people they have at their disposal.
When you consider the fact the USA has over 310 million people to draw from, it is quite a feat for countries with populations smaller than just a single state (and a small state for that matter) to be able to medal at the Olympic Games.
If you consider the size of the Bahamas, Jamaica and New Zealand, it is amazing to see the feats that their athletes have been able to accomplish. These countries have small populations, but when you compare that to the amount of medals they have been able to produce, they have come up big.
So, let's take a look at these three small countries that have been able to put together some great performances at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Jamaica is well known the world over in athletics, and they did not let anyone down this year. The team was able to take home 12 medals in total (four gold, four silver and four bronze).
It is amazing how a country with such a small population can still be able to send out such an amazing group of runners. It is not just any running, however, that the Jamaicans excel in, it is the sprinting events where they do all the damage.
Both the men and women on the team are equally able at producing medals, but the men were more dominant. They were able to win three of the four gold medals the team was able to produce.
However, it is upsetting that people can not just accept the fact they are a nation that can produce fast athletes. Dick Pound, of the World Doping Agency, said this regarding the Jamaican team, reports Jim Morris of Yahoo Sports!.
"I think they can expect, with the extraordinary results that they have had, that they will be on everybody's radar (concerning drug testing),'' said Pound.
When your team is anchored by superstar Usain Bolt everyone else knows that it has huge shoes to fill. Kids in Jamaica will dream of being Bolt, even teammates now will want to beat him, and that can only mean that Jamaica's dominance in sprint events at the Olympics will continue.
Although they only got one medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games, it was one that required more than just one athlete. The Bahamian men's 4x400 relay team was able to strike gold with its win over the United States and Trinidad and Tobago, who each gained the silver and bronze respectively.
The team was behind going into the final leg when Ramon Miller was able to chase down the American team and take home the gold. The team ran a 2:56.72 time for a national record, and that run earned the nation its fifth medal ever at the Olympic Games.
It was not totally unexpected that the Bahamian team was going to do well; after all it did win the silver medal placing behind the Americans in Beijing. This time around they knew that they could compete with them, says anchor Ramon Miller. Sports Network (Via Fox News) reports:
"The U.S. guys know we've been just behind them or thereabouts for a long time," said Miller. "It's amazing we are finally taking home the gold."
Even though the team knew that they were right on the heels of the American's, making the victory even more impressive is that the USA has never received anything but gold in this event since the 1972 Games in Munich.
All of this coming from a country with a population less than Wyoming.
The country of New Zealand was able to finish off the 2012 Olympic Games with a total medal count of 13 (five gold, three silver and five bronze). That was good enough to tie the record for most medals won at the Olympics by any New Zealand team.
Marc Hinton of Stuff remarks on just how well the New Zealand team was able to do this year in London:
"At the end of the penultimate day, New Zealand sat 14th on the medal table. That really is something special. We're above Spain, Cuba, Romania, Brazil and the Czech Republic, and that is illustration enough of a little country that has overachieved in the past fortnight."
Although New Zealand finished the Olympics in 16th spot and could not keep Cuba, who finished one medal above them, from staying behind, they have to consider this outcome a true success.
Even though they were able to win medals across six different events it is sailing that usually brings out the best results for the team.
Although they were only able to earn two medals in sailing, a gold and a silver, they were close to winning even more. A top 10 result was the case for eight of the nine crews. For a country that is ranked 126th in global population, finishing in the 16th spot in total medals at the Olympics is something to be proud of.
If the team can improve on its sailing results, even more medals could be in the future for New Zealand at Rio in 2016.
Although it is only expected that the top medal producing countries garner the most attention, sometimes the best athletic performances are the ones completed by the underdogs. These three countries, and there are many more, have shown that they are able to compete with others that are much more populated.
Granted, an incredible athlete can come from anywhere; it's just places with a higher population have a better chance in producing them. So what the Bahamas, Jamaica and New Zealand have been able to accomplish this Olympic Games is most impressive.