Goldman Sachs sees US winning 45 gold medals in Rio, ahead of China and UK

But financial giant has mixed record in sports prediction, choosing the wrong side in European soccer contest

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 August, 2016, 2:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 August, 2016, 11:06am

Financial giant Goldman Sachs predicted the US will again lead the medal table at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, ahead of China and the UK, with host Brazil turning in its best-ever performance.

Using “macroeconomic variables and statistical relationships”, Goldman economists led by Francesco Garzarelli estimated a talented swim team will lead America to 45 gold medals - one fewer than in London four years ago.

China follows at 36 golds, helped by dominant performances in sports like table tennis and badminton. Goldman expects the UK to be third, with 23, led by rowing, sailing and cycling.

Enjoying the improved performance typical of Olympic hosts, Brazilian athletes will take 22 medals, with five gold, the bank wrote in a note to clients.

Goldman’s efforts to predict the outcomes of sporting events have been mixed. In 2012 the bank perfectly forecast the UK’s 65-medal performance and correctly guessed 10 of the 11 top gold medal winners.

But the bank’s model also gave France a 23 per cent probability of winning this year’s European Football Championships, with Germany the next-most-likely. The ultimate victor was Portugal, which Goldman had granted just an 8 per cent likelihood of success.

The bank’s Olympics model relies in part on a measure of economic health, because “a country is more likely to produce world-class athletes in a world-class environment,” the economists wrote.

Still, they said, the ongoing controversy over doping by Russian athletes, and the likelihood they’ll be barred from competition in many sports, injects significant uncertainty into this year’s contests.