Top 10 countries that dominate specific sports

Manjunath Shekara

With the Rio Olympics 2016 just a year away, there is a lot of buzz in the media about various countries sending their star players to special preparation camps for the Olympics. Athletes qualifying for Rio make news on television channels these days. While there are a few countries that excel in a single sport, there are countries which are powerhouses of athletes, dominating more than one.

It seems surreal, and at the same time a little unfair when just a few countries have a stranglehold on the podium across various Sports. There are a lot of factors that go into such countries producing star athletes who perform, emerge victorious, make their respective countries proud and take a lot of pride in repeating the feat. It is a two way street - the backing that each of them can offer to their athletes in terms of infrastructure and financial support, and the talent and motivation each athlete possesses.

In Rio 2016, rugby and golf will be reintroduced into the Olympics for the first time since the early 1900s. While it holds bright prospects for those countries that do well in those two sports, it also gives them a chance to interact with those that have been doing exceedingly well in more than one sport for decades.

Here are the top 10 countries that dominate various Sports.

10. J for Japan, J for Judo

Masahiko Kimura – The Greatest Japanese Judoka

Japanese judokas dominated the recently held World Judo Masters. This was a qualifying event for Rio 2016 and was held in Rabat in Morocco.

Japan won a total of 12 medals including 3 Golds that were secured by the Japanese fighters Takanori Nagase, Naohisa Takato, and Miku Tashiro. The country secured place in the overall medal tally closely followed by Russia and Mongolia.

Japan has always excelled in Judo at numerous editions of the Olympic Games. They have been very successful in the heavyweight and extra lightweight categories. The Japanese run of dominance started in the 1964 Tokyo Games and continued till 2000 Sydney Olympics, where they won 4 Gold Medals.

Although the team though did not manage gold at London 2012, their judokas won medals in other categories.


9. Jamaica Bolts to glory

Usain Bolt and the Jamaican Passion that makes him the fastest man on earth

Don Quarrie, Usain Bolt and Herb McKenley are all time sprinting greats, and all belong to Jamaica.

The reasons for these Jamaicans being Sprint Kings stem from factors that range from genetics to Jamaican culture. It has been found that sprinters usually have the single or double copy of the ACTN3 gene. Researchers have deduced that 98% of all Jamaicans have one or both copies of the gene that is recognized as being necessary to thrive at the highest level of Sprint events. Most Jamaicans start training very early in their childhood and have personal coaches as well. Jamaicans are very passionate about Sports and the weather provides the perfect conditions for training.

Usain Bolt is the most successful Jamaican sprinter.

I'm now a legend. I'm also the greatest athlete to live – Usain Bolt, after winning his seventh straight title in the 100 and 200 m, 9 August 2012.


8. Hungary’s iron grip on Water Polo

One of the greatest Hungarian Water Polo players of all time

The Semi Final Water Polo match in the 1956 Summer Olympics has a very significant history attached to it – the Hungarian Revolution began while the athletes were about to leave for the Olympic Games. While the uprising was crushed by the Soviet Army, the enraged athletes vowed to take revenge in the pool and hence ensued one of the most violent encounters in Water Polo history. Hungary crushed the Russians 4-0 and defeated Yugoslavia in the Finals.

Hungary has won 9 Olympic Gold Medals. They won their first Gold Medal in the 1932 Los Angeles Games.


7. Cuba – the boxing haven

Teofilo Stevenson – The Cuban Boxing Great

Of the 99,000 athletes in Cuba currently, 19,000 are boxers, including 81 of Olympic competence, even though only 12 make the Olympic team.

The sport arrived in this nation as a tourist attraction, but the people of the country now live and breathe boxing. From 1968 in Mexico City to the Sydney Games in 2000, Cubans have participated in 7 Olympic tournaments, winning 27 gold medals, 13 silver medals, and 7 bronze medals for a total of 47—a number unmatched by any country.

Cuba is the only country that can boast of two three-time Olympic Champions: Teofilo Stevenson and Félix Savón. At the London Olympics in 2012, Cuba won 2 Gold and 2 bronze medals.


6. Great Britain - Rowing, Sailing

Sir Steve Redgrave with his 5 Gold exploits

Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Matthew Pinsent are two rowing greats who have helped Great Britain scale the pinnacle of the Sport. Redgrave won gold medals at five consecutive Olympic Games from 1984 to 2000.

With a total of 24 gold medals in the history of Sailing at the Games, Great Britain entered London 2012 as the nation to beat. They ruled the waves in three consecutive editions of the Olympics starting from Sydney 2000.


5. Germany - Equestrian Sport and Field Hockey

Anabel Balkenhol, the legendary German Dressage rider

Germany’s hegemony over Equestrian sport is undisputed. The Equestrian powerhouse has produced 37 Gold Medalists in Olympic history. Though Showjumping and Eventing have had winners from other nations, it is in Dressage – individual and team – where Germany is dominant. The Netherlands have been the only non-Germany winners at Dressage since the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

Four-time Olympic Gold Medalists, the German Men’s Hockey team successfully defended their Olympic titles in 2008 and 2012. They have also won numerous times at the Champions Trophy and the EuroHockey Nations Championships.


4. South Korea – Archery and Taekwondo

Ki Whang Kim – the Great Taekwondo Grand Master

Taekwondo has become part of the elite list of Olympic Sports in recent decaded. Since then South Koreans have stamped their authority on Taekwondo. Their stellar performance in the 2008 Beijing Olympics helped them bag 4 of the 8 gold medals.

The Women’s Archery team has been hitting the bullseye for a good 20 years. Ki Bo-Bae led the women's team that has clinched gold at every Olympics since 1988, the first year of the event. The team set World Record in every edition of the Olympics other than 2004.


3. Russia – Wrestling, Rhythmic Gymnastics and Synchronised Swimming

The Great Russian Gymnast Larisa Latynina

Russian wrestlers have excelled in the last four editions of the Olympics, bringing their total haul of Gold Medals to 21. Wrestling was dominated by the USA until the 1984 Los Angeles Games. Since then Russia has taken over the role of the frontrunner.

Synchronised Swimming is one discipline which Russia has been dominant with since the inception of the sport, winning the team and duet titles at every Olympics. Their production line of synchronised swimmers is so robust that not even one swimmer who was part of the gold-winning 2008 Beijing Olympics was in the winning team eight years earlier.

Russia has also dominated the discipline of Rhythmic Gymnastics. At the 1964 Tokyo Games, Larisa Latynina won 6 of 18 medals. She bettered her own performance four years later at Mexico City, where she won 7 gold medals.


2. USA – Basketball, Swimming, Volleyball, Tennis, Track and Field

The Williams sisters with their third Doubles Gold Medal at London 2012

The USA dominating basketball is a given. It is hardly surprising to note that they have racked up a total of 21 Gold Medals so far. Apart from volleyball, it is at swimming and tennis where their dominance has been unquestioned.

The USA has accrued almost 500 medals in the sport of swimming. So rounded is their dominance that even though there are 32 events in the sport, they have been challenged only by one other nation – Australia.

The Olympic swimming history of the USA has greats who are part of it in almost every event.

The Williams sisters have been largely responsible for the country’s dominance at tennis. They won three consecutive golds in the Doubles event at the Olympics, in 2000, 2008 and 2012. Apart from being a combined force, they have individual gold medals as well. Older sister Venus won hers at the Singles event in 2000, and 12 years later in London sister Serena repeated that feat.

At London 2012, the USA won 9 Gold Medals and a total of 29 Medals in Track and Field. An achievement that still stands out for most is that of Carl Lewis, who won 4 Gold Medals on American soil in the 1984 Los Angeles Games.


1. China – Badminton, Table Tennis, Diving, Gymnastics

Deng Yaping, considered the greatest Chinese Table Tennis player of all time, won 4 Olympic Gold Medals

The Chinese Olympic factory is second to none. Athletes enter the factory at a very young age and leave only after their potential has been completely reached.

The Chinese have dominated Badminton since it was introduced as an Olympic Sport in 1992. Lin Dan, who won gold in Beijing in 2008 and at London in 2012, is probably the greatest badminton player of all time. He took down another legend, Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei, in both his gold medal matches.

China has had a reign of superiority, winning the majority of medals in table tennis since it became an Olympic sport in 1988. In London 2012, the Chinese men's and women's teams won all four table tennis medals.

Edited by Staff Editor


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