The world’s worst-performing Olympic country?

With the Olympic Games in Beijing scheduled to begin at 8 am on the 8th day of the 8th year, Foreign Policy magazine lists the “The World’s Worst Olympians“.

On top of the pile: India with 17 medals from 108 years of trying.

“Think of India as the Washington Nationals of Olympic sport. India is by far the worst-performing Olympic country—no matter how you slice it. It’s not for lack of trying. A games participant since 1900, India still ranks behind Nigeria, a country with an economy one-twentieth India’s size, in total medals. The country’s athletic ineptitude is so profound that a parliamentarian called for two minutes of silence to “lament the demise of Indian sports” after the squad failed to win any medals in Barcelona in 1992.

“What’s wrong? Few sports venues (roughly 33 stadiums and sports complexes for 1.1 billion people), a lack of school sports programs, stingy government funding, and a narrow talent base. The result? A country whose most celebrated claim to Olympic greatness is “The Flying Sikh,” a track-and-field star who broke hearts by placing fourth at the 1960 Rome Games. It’s not that Indians can’t excel at athletics. Since 1933, the state of Punjab has hosted its own “rural Olympics,” where competitors vie for glory in tug of war, mule-cart racing, sack lifting, tent pegging, and various feats of strength. And there’s hope in the air. Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal has established a trust to fund athletes’ training and medical care and “put India firmly on the medal grid” for 2012.”

Read about the other four worst Olympic countries here

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