Would you rather be known as the heavyweight champ or the best pound-for-pound?
In the 2012 Olympics, the United States and China’s combined medal count equaled 84 golds (46 for the USA), but their total population is about 1.7 billion people. Obviously, the Bahamas and their 350,000 citizens won’t be able to compete in total medals.
And on that note, this list is for the little guys: the undersized countries that still managed to rack up at least three gold medals despite being a fraction of the size of the U.S. and China.
Population: 4.4 million
Gold Medals: Three
If you count its entire water polo team, Croatia took home 15 gold medals. In all seriousness, though, despite its small size, it dominated that sport and invaded others as well.
Sandra Perkovic won gold in the women’s discus throw, and Giovanni Cernogoraz triumphed in the men’s trap shooting competition.
Population: 10.0 million
Gold Medals: Eight
I guess it isn’t a coincidence that swimming in the pool always makes you hungry—Hungary got most of their gold medals in water sports.
Three of its victories came in canoe/kayaking competitions. Two more were swimming. Hungary’s final three golds came in track and field, gymnastics and fencing events, but there’s no question which sport the country was most comfortable in.
They tied Germany, a nation eight times their size, for the most canoe/kayaking golds.
Population: 2.7 million
Gold Medals: Four
Jamaica was the Sugar Ray Robinson of the 2012 Olympics—pound-for-pound, no country was better.
Not only did they manage to win four golds and 12 total medals despite being over 100 times smaller than America, but they won the most prestigious events in the Games. Usain Bolt took the men’s 100-meter and 200-meter, while Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won the women’s 100-meter. Bolt led the men to a 4x100-meter repeat as well.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.