Canada's flag bearer Simon Whitfield - Reuters
With the unofficial start to the London 2012 Olympic Games coming today (the opening ceremonies take place on Friday, but a number of competitions will begin before that), the predictions on who wins what and how many are coming fast and furious.
Canadian Press has weighed in on just how Canada is likely to fare over the next fortnight, predicting 22 medals. That might be just shy of what the Canadian Olympic Association is aiming for, although that organization's prediction does not come with a hard and fast number. The COA would like Canada to finish 12th in the medal standings. Based on the outcome of the 2008 Beijing games, a total of 24 medals would be necessary to claim that spot in the standings.
[Memorable Moments: Canada's best Summer Games performance ever]
Said Mark Tewksbury, Canada's chef de mission for the London Games, to The National Post's Sean Fitz-Gerald:
I think we should expect a team that's going to give its everything. I think it's impossible to predict who's going to fall into one, two, three, and who's going to be fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth. The Summer Games are such a monster. There's, like, 204 countries. The depth of field is so intense. I can guarantee that many medals will come between inches, hundredths of seconds or a turn the wrong way. Our goal is top 12, but we don't even know exactly what the medal count will be that will make it to the top 12, so it will be a kind of a tallying as we go, and responding as we go at the Games.
Previous high for Canada at a non-boycotted games was 22, in 1996 in Atlanta. To see how every nation has done, historically at the games, you can check out the Sports Illustrated historical Olympic standings.
SI, by the way, predicts Canada will win 17 medals, two of them gold. Writer Brian Cazeneuve's prediction sees Canada finishing 1 medal behind the projected 11th place finisher, Ukraine. His gold medalist predictions for Canada are: Edmonton's Tara Whitten, in cycling and Kamloops' Catharine Pendrel, in mountain biking.
[Watch: Get to know Catharine Pendrel]
Over at the Wall Street Journal, Canada's medal chances are seen in brighter terms. The Journal tops Canada out with 20 medals, good for 11th place and that total, in their estimation, will include 4 gold medals.
Meantime, in a sweeping and complicated study done by researchers at Germany's Ruhr University Bochum, Canada is predicted to finish with 18 medals, good for 16th place, just behind Spain and just ahead of Kazakhstan. The researchers used a pile of data, including not just the athletic performances of the countries in the past, but also political, economic and demographic numbers, which they claim to give them a very accurate take on what's ahead. The authors of the study claim to have tested their formula by applying it to Olympic games past and that it was 97.4% accurate when compared to the actual results of the 2004 games in Athens, and 96.9% accurate when compared to Beijing in 2008.
[Slideshow: Meet Canada's 2012 Olympic diving team]
CP, and many others, predict Canada's strength will be shown in (or in the case of diving, just over) the water, calling for 5 medals in the rowing/kayaking events along with 3 in swimming pool and 2 more in the diving event.
If Canada is to set a new standard for itself a these Olympics, it will need more than just the will of its top-rated athletes. As with the 2010 "Own The Podium" project, 2012 Canadian Olympians have been sharpened up with the latest in sports performance equipment and theory, as reported in Maclean's magazine.
At the top of the table, a war between the Unites States and China is expected, with Sebastian Coe, head of the London Games Organizing Committee, predicting China will be tops, with the U.S. in second and Russia third.
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- Canadian Olympic Association