The Center for Public Opinion at Universidad del Valle de Mexico, in conjunction with the National Commission on Physical Fitness and Sport, undertook the task of conducting a study to understand, beyond the medals, the performance of the Mexican delegation at the Olympic Games. A summary of the report follows:
Four years ago, during the Beijing Olympics, Mexico was in 36th place with three medals (two gold and one bronze), which was on par with London (39th place medals). However, in London Mexico earned a total of 7 medals (1 gold, 3 silver and 3 bronze), a significantly better outcome than Beijing 2008.
There are three disciplines in which Mexicans are successful: taekwondo, diving, and archery. In Beijing medals were earned for the first two disciplines, one gold in men's and one gold in women's taekwondo and one bronze in women's diving. In the 2012 Olympics, a gold medal was earned by the football team, silver medals went to men and women in archery, and bronze in diving, archery and taekwondo.
Approximately the same number of Mexican athletes competed in Beijing (85) and London (84). In Beijing, the representation of men and women was very balanced (43 men and 42 women) and 17 athletes finished their competitions in the top 10 in the world. The results in London were more positive, with 30% of the participating athletes in the top 10. However, the balance of athletes in London was not quite as even with 47 men and 37 women participating.
Performance of women
In Beijing, eight women were part of the group of the top ten, while in London 9 women were part of this elite group. Comparatively, the women's performance in the London games improved by 5 percentage points, when compared to the total number of female participants, as they earned one medal In Beijing and two in London.
Performance of men
For men, the performance improvement is even more striking. Performance increased from 21% to 34%, with 16 of the 47 participating athletes occupying a place among the top 10 in the world in London 2012 (compared to 9 in Beijing). In Beijing men earned one medal while in London they brought home three medals.
Analysis by discipline
This analysis is very interesting.
Archery – This was without question the discipline for Mexico in 2012. With six athletes, five were in the top 10, and earned two medals.
Athletics - In Beijing, Mexico had 25 participating athletes (one in the top ten). In London, there were 18 participants and three were in the top ten.
Boxing – Mexico’s performance is improving, two athletes who participated in these games, one was in the top ten.
Diving - One of the most successful disciplines for Mexico. In Beijing 5 of twelve athletes obtained a privileged position and one earned a medal. In London 7 athletes were among the top and earned three medals.
Equestrian sports – Mexico had an athlete in the top ten in both the Beijing and London games, from a delegation of five athletes to Beijing and four to London.
Taekwondo – Mexico was good in both Beijing and London, bringing home medals from in both games.
Football – A gold medal for the country is surely more than just a medal. It is proof that with commitment, preparation, attitude and professionalism we can have good results.
It is very striking that the Beijing Olympics we had athletes from 20 states of Mexico, several with more than 5 athletes participating. In 2012, 20 states were represented, but 40 of the 84 athletes were from the Federal District. One reason for the shift is that many athletes have changed their place of residence and have come to the big city to continue training, which be due to deficiencies in their states.
Both delegations have an average age close to 26 years, which combines youth and experience. However, the average age of the medalists in London (21.75) is slightly lower than that of Beijing medalists (24 years).
When comparing the performance of both delegations considering athletes who are in the top 16 places in the world, we see that in both competitions had 29 athletes (or just over a third) in these positions.
There is no doubt that much remains to be done. If Mexico is among the top 15 countries worldwide in the economic and productive, it should arguably occupy a similar place in sports. Lack of physical activity programs and culture in the general population seems to explain much of this. Corruption and lack of long term vision are other elements that could improve to promote a richer culture focused on staying active, playing sports and succeeding.
However, the results of this analysis demonstrate that when there is commitment, dedication, preparation and attitude, Mexico can earn a place at the top.
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This article was originally written in Spanish and has been translated into English to be shared on the Laureate International Universities website.