- Associated Press - Thursday, May 19, 2016

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) - The United States and China are tipped to finish 1-2 in the medals table at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, and they’ll rely heavily on female athletes to do it.

Using a data-processing program to forecast Rio results, United States-based Gracenote - a sports and entertainment data provider - estimates the U.S. will lead the overall count with 102 medals (42 gold) and China will win 78 (31 gold). Russia is third with 66 (22 gold).

Gracenote’s monthly forecast predicted Chinese women to win almost 58 percent of their country’s medals, and American women to win 57 percent of U.S. medals.

Canada’s team will also rely primarily on female athletes. Gracenote forecasted Canada to win 17 medals, 12 by women (71 percent); the highest percentage of any large country.

Women’s disciplines will provide 44 percent of the medals in Rio, with the rest in men’s or mixed events.

Some other trends leading to the Rio Olympics, which open on Aug. 5.

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AUSTRALIA RECOVERY

Australia is picked to finish fourth in the overall medal table with 41, and also fourth in the gold-medal count with 18. This would be a vast improvement on London, where Australia won 35 (eight gold).

Gracenote concludes Britain and Germany will also fight for fourth place. The doping scandals surrounding Russia also mean third place is also possible for teams like Australia, Britain and Germany.

VOLATILE CHINA

Gracenote’s forecasts on China have been volatile.

Last August, Gracenote picked China for 72 medals overall. Three months later, it boosted its estimate of 88. This time the ranking is back to 78.

“It looks highly unlikely that the Chinese team can challenge the United States for the most medals this time around,” Gracenote wrote in this month’s analysis.

China led the overall table and gold count in Beijing in 2008, typical of home-country advantage.

Home fans help. So does added investment, which nations typically commit to when they want to show off at home.

Brazil is picked to win 25 medals, cracking the top 10. It would be by far Brazil’s best results.

KIWI POWER

New Zealand is being picked to win 22 medals overall, topping its best total of 13. New Zealand has a population of only 4.5 million, meaning it will win a medal for every 205,000 people.

This dwarfs the United States and China.

The United States, with a population of about 320 million, is picked to win a medal for every 3.1 million people. And China, with a population of almost 1.4 billion, will produce a medal for every 17.4 million people.

This means New Zealand could be 15 times more productive per capita than the U.S., and 86 times more productive than China.

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Stephen Wade on Twitter: https://twitter.com/StephenWadeAP . His work can be found at https://bigstory.ap.org/content/stephen-wade


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