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As the Olympics went on, everyone’s eyes were on the medal count. The world watched as China and the United States went back and forth, taking their turns as the country with the most gold, silver, and bronze medals. Fewer people watched the lead, tin, and zinc medal counts. The Wall Street Journal decided to tally last-place finishes to see which country had the most, giving last place a lead medal. Second-to-last got tin, and third-to-last received zinc. Here’s what they found out about the winners of the losers.
The Wall Street Journal first tallied the non-winners at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, where Russia led the count. These theoretical prizes are named for metals that aren’t quite as precious or valuable as the ones awarded to the event winners (although it was recently revealed that the bronze medal is worth less than $5, as it is mostly made of copper). To qualify for a medal, the athlete or team would have to complete the event; if there is a tie, whoever lost by the widest margin is awarded the medal.
As host country, Great Britain’s teams and athletes automatically qualify for each event, giving them a chance to win more medals. In Great Britain’s case, this means medals of both the valuable and not-so-valuable kind. As a result, the United Kingdom leads the rest of the world in losses. As of August 9, Great Britain had 8 leads, 11 tins, and 12 zincs, for a total of 31. That’s eight more medals than Ukraine, the second-place country in the last-place standings. The WSJ notes that Great Britain has done poorly in team sports like handball and water polo.
Even the United States and China are on the list of top losers: as of August 9, the U.S. had 18 theoretical medals (tied with Canada for fifth place, though the U.S. had more leads) and China was eleventh with 14. While large teams will have more winners, there will likely also be more losers. Some small teams excelled at losing: Cook Islands’ Olympic Team has eight athletes and they have already won four of the WSJ’s medals. This is the biggest team Cook Islands ever sent to the Games; ten officials accompanied the athletes. The WSJ looks at this count as a good thing because “the little guys get a chance to compete.” While making it to the Olympics is an honor in itself, I doubt that many athletes would be honored with their lead, tin, or zinc medal. Of course, they might be if there was an actual medal coming their way (no word on whether WSJ would consider producing these prizes).
One athlete that notably earned a lead medal was German diver Stephan Feck. His preliminary dive off the 3-meter springboard has earned the title of “Worst Olympic Dive” or “Epic Olympic Diving Fail.” Feck started his dive well, but his hand slipped from his thigh and “ruined his tuck,” according to The Huffington Post. He ended up flopping into the water on his back.
Not only did Feck come in last place, he earned a score of 0.0 on his first dive, finishing with a total score of 133.80, or 167.65 points behind the second-to-last competitor. Not surprisingly, he didn’t qualify to move on the next round. If you’ve ever belly-flopped, you can imagine the pain Feck was in physically and emotionally. Australian diver Ethan Warren revealed that failed dives can cause bruises. Adding insult to injury, the video of his failed dive is currently going viral. Maybe learning that he won a lead medal would help?