Olympic Games: What if…….

I hope that you’ve enjoyed the Olympic games. It has been a great fortnight watching sports I don’t otherwise watch!

I was listening to Five Live earlier this week and one of their presenters was looking at how empires that have disappeared would have done at the Olympics. I can’t remember which ones he did but I thought that I would “play the game”. I’ve always enjoyed history and it has been a bit of fun to see the mapping of old empires onto the modern map. Of course, I am NOT advocating that empires are a good thing – I emphatically do not believe that they are.

Here are a few of the empires (chosen four of them – please feel free to add others) that I mapped onto sets of modern countries (none of these are perfect and happy to have them corrected but good for openers!). Had to have the Roman Empire in due to Eric Idle’s presence in last night’s closing ceremony, the Spanish because it was the period I did in history for A level, the Mongol for its vastness and the British because I’m British. Anyway here the Olympic tables are in reverse order :

In Fourth place is

The Spanish Empire

This grew under Charles V at the end of the 15th Century and by the end of the 16th also included the Portuguese Empire. It covered the Carribean, Central and South America and the Philippines as well as other various outposts in Africa and Asia. It also included some of the Southern states of America.

Under my reckoning it gained 34 gold medals and 124 medals in total (and they would have come 3rd in London 2012)

In third place is

The British Empire

At its height just over a century ago it covered about 1/4 of the world and included large parts of Africa, India, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and many other places.

Under my reckoning it would have got 56 golds and 185 medals in total. It would have beaten the US into first place at London 2012 but not by much. Australia has not done so well this Olympics and India is very much punching below its population with only 2 silvers and 4 bronze medals.

In second place is

The Mongol Empire

The largest empire (and one of the most ruthless) in history covering Russia and China and many countries in between. Started by Genghis Khan who united the warring Mongol tribes and then swept through Asia overturning many empires. In fact they reached as far as Europe before running out of steam (or heads to chop off) by my reckoning they would have gained

78 Gold medals and 230 medals overall.

But in first place is

The Roman Empire

The big daddy of empires it covered some 38 modern countries

If they had competed they would have got 87 gold medals and 233 medals overall. Well in front of any of the major competitors in today’s Olympics. The Roman Empire covered every country surrounding the Mediterranean (which is why they called it Mare Nostrum – Our sea) and all the way out to England and Wales and out as far as Turkey and Armenia.

I must admit that I thought that the Mongol Empire (by including China and Russia) would take first place and so I was a little surprised that the Romans could still hang on in there. Any other historical ones that you can think of?


4 comments on “Olympic Games: What if…….

  1. smellofburntwiggle
    August 14, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

    er- I’m thinking the Babylonian Empire wouldn’t have scored too highly

    • Will Cookson
      August 15, 2012 at 9:26 am #

      Well the Babylon empire was roughly made up of modern day Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Israel. Between them they go zero medals!!

      If you try hard then you can include parts of Armenia, Azerbijan and Turkey but my “methodolgy” (for which read whim) means that I haven’t counted them!

  2. B N
    August 15, 2012 at 2:52 am #

    Of course this is for fun hiwever he basic premise is illogical. For example you assume tht the soviet union would have had all the entrants in the games for, the thirteen former countries where in truth they would have only the same number of athletes competing as hey have now. They would have had to choose an allotment of the athletes to represent the sinlgle soviet union certainly they would have done better but not to the extant it seems in your example

    • Will Cookson
      August 15, 2012 at 9:29 am #

      Hi BN,

      Welcome. That is true in some sports certainly – such as cycling where only one person from each country was allowed entry (to stop perfidious albion!) but not in all – e.g. some of the athletics where there were multiple entries – just look at Jamaica in the men’s 200m where they got Gold, Silver and Bronze!

      The whole basis for this article is totally illogical and I would be the first to agree – just fun!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s