As the Rio Olympics officially drew to a close, the countries that won the most medals, such as the U.S., China and Great Britain, returned home triumphant. But others, such as Greece, have good reason to rejoice too, as they did better than expected.
In late July, banking firm Goldman Sachs issued a report in which it predicted the number of medals each country would win. The report, based on data such as each country’s growth, income per capita, population size and how it has fared in past Games, proved fairly accurate in some cases (U.S., Great Britain) but way off the mark in others, such as Greece. Despite falling in the “zero medals” category in the report, Greece returned home with six medals, three of them gold, and ranked 26th in the list of medal-winning countries.
Greece has been struggling with its deepening crisis for the past seven years, and with economic recession and surging unemployment affecting all aspects of life, the former host of the 2004 Games was forced to stop all funding of its Olympic athletes in 2009.
As a result, Greece did not win any gold medals in the 2008 or 2012 Games, and the prospects for Rio didn’t seem notably better, with athletes having to fend for themselves, hunting for last-minute sponsorships with no state backing. Still, Greek athletes and officials who talked to The World Post before the Olympics remained optimistic in spite of the overwhelming obstacles.
In a congratulatory statement to the Greek Olympic mission in Rio, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that “the remarkable performance of Greek athletes proves that sport can make us proud, with modesty and persistence. They have raised Greece higher.”