Birmingham: Australia may have finished atop the Commonwealth Games medal tally after 11 days of competition but Niue and Bermuda can certainly make a claim for having the most successful campaigns when it comes to medals – both gold and overall – per head of population.
At one point England looked like hauling down Australia in the gold medal race but ultimately the team in green and gold held bragging rights as athletes walked into Alexander Stadium on Monday evening local time to celebrate a terrific campaign.
Australia finished the Games in Birmingham with 67 gold, 57 silver and 54 bronze medals for an overall haul of 178 medals.
It was a slight drop from the 80 gold medals the team snared at a home Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast four years ago but was an improvement on the 49 claimed in Glasgow in 2014.
England won 10 fewer gold medals than Australia but fell just two medals short of their biggest rivals overall.
Although Australian, English and Canadian athletes garnered more attention, there will be smaller teams leaving Birmingham extremely pleased with their efforts, even if they didn’t crack the top 10 on the medal tally.
Of all the 72 countries and territories that competed at these Commonwealth Games, 43 teams won a medal.
Only 36 per cent of countries (26 of 72) won a gold medal.
Australia, with a population of almost 26 million, won a gold medal for every 384,164 individuals and a medal for every 144,601 people.
Of course, these numbers are only a rough estimate – based on the latest population forecasts – but they offer an insight into how well some teams have done based on their small teams and talent base.
The biggest winner of these Games, on this specific set of criteria, was Niue.
A country with 1800 people, whose premier played lawn bowls in Birmingham, Niue was one of 14 teams competing who had never won a medal of any colour.
However, heavyweight boxer Duken Tutakitoa-Williams brought huge pride to the tiny island nation after his bronze medal performance.
Nauru managed one medal, while the British Virgin Islands, Guernsey and Bermuda also performed well in relation to their tiny populations compared to nations like India (1.39 billion) and Pakistan (225 million).
New Zealand, who traditionally punch above their weight, rounded out the top 10 in the population divided by medals formula with 104,530 citizens for each of their 49 medals.
On this criteria, Australia would have finished 14th.
On the flipside, nations with bigger populations can still get themselves towards the top half of the medal table but having so many people is always going to be a major help.
Big African nations, such as Tanzania, Mozambique and Uganda, traditionally perform poorly when these metrics are used given their poor living conditions and limited resources for high-performance sport.
When it comes to the best performing nations per population, in terms of gold medals, Bermuda stands atop the podium.
Bermuda, a country of just 63,000, ranked well in this same category after last year’s Tokyo Olympics by winning one gold medal.
Bermuda’s Flora Duffy defended her women’s triathlon title in what was her country’s only gold. How valuable it was.
Then there are the countries that struggle to make inroads at the Commonwealth Games.
While there were some large countries who won medals but couldn’t convert any into gold – such as Tanzania, Mozambique, Ghana and Sri Lanka – others will walk away from Birmingham empty-handed.
Bangladesh, who won two silvers on the Gold Coast four years ago, failed to get in the top three in any event.
While their team was not large, it’s a small return for a country with more than 171 million people.
Other large countries who didn’t win a medal included Malawi, Rwanda and Sierra Leone.
Those last two have never had athletes make it to the podium, but a 2026 Commonwealth Games in Victoria may just be the event to turn their fortunes around.
Catch up with all the final-day action from the Birmingham Commonwealth Games here.
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