A GOOGLE Earth inspection of St George’s — the capital city of Grenada — gives an immediate impression of the size of this Caribbean port.
There’s a bus terminal, a couple of grocery shops and a cricket ground where Darren Lehmann once made a century for Australia, but not much more.
Roughly a third of Grenada’s 110,000-strong population resides in St George’s and it would be reasonable to expect a large percentage of them know each other by name.
Famous for its production of nutmeg and mace, the West Indian island is adding spice of a different kind to the Rio Olympics.
After nine days of competition Grenada sits atop the unofficial medals per capita leaderboard. After failing to win a medal between the year it first competed at the Olympics (1984) and Beijing (2008), the Grenadians’ tiny population was more productive than any other country in London and is on track to defend its crown in Brazil.
The catch here is that because of the small number of people living in Grenada it’s only taken a single medal — won by the same athlete — at each of the past two Olympics to claim this unique honour.
Track star Kirani James is one of seven Grenadians competing in Rio and after becoming a national icon by winning the 400m in London, he finished second behind world record-breaking South Africa Wayde van Niekerk in Rio. His countryman, Bralon Taplin, finished seventh.
“It means a lot not just for me but for my country,” James said. “To have two guy in an Olympic final, in one of the toughest races, it’s a great achievement.”
Australia has often beaten its collective chest about the number of medals it wins for a country with a population of around 24 million.
But a breakdown on the website medalspercapita.com shows there’s plenty doing better, including one a little too close to home.
New Zealand may be struggling to convert silver into gold in Rio but its haul from the opening nine days of competition can’t be underestimated for a nation of around 4.5 million.
Two gold and six silver medals — including one gold and two silver in rowing — has the Kiwis sitting second behind Grenada with a week of competition to go.
Slovenia (which jagged medals in judo and canoe), Hungary (which performed well in swimming and fencing) and Usain Bolt-led Jamaica are other countries performing better than the Aussies.
Australia, with six gold, seven silver and nine bronze, sits in ninth on the per capita tally. It’s currently an improvement on London where we dropped all the way to 13th but still inferior to where we rated in Beijing (eighth), Athens (second) and Sydney (fifth).
Of course, Australia can take pride in the fact it’s the only country in the top 10 that is also in the top 10 on the official medal tally in Rio. Our 22 medals are currently good for sixth place behind the US (70, ranked 35th per capita), China (46, ranked 60th per capita), Great Britain (40, ranked 16th per capita) Russia (32, ranked 38th per capita) and Japan (27, ranked 36th per capita).
MEDALS PER CAPITA
Medals — 1, Population — 106, 825, Per medal — 106,825
2. New Zealand
Medals — 8, Population — 4,595,700, Per medal — 574,462
Medals — 3, Population — 2,063, 768, Per medal — 687,922
Medals — 13, Population — 9,844,686, Per medal — 757,283
Medals — 7, Population — 5,676,002, Per medal — 810,857
Medals — 1, Population — 892,145, Per medal — 892,145
Medals — 3, Population — 2,725,941, Per medal — 908,647
Medals — 3, Population — 2,910,199, Per medal — 970,066
Medals — 22, Population — 23,781,169, Per medal — 1,080,962
Medals — 1, Population — 1,311, 998, Per medal — 1,311, 998