Cuba has a population of just over 11 million people. They sent 167 athletes to the Beijing games. That is the highest ratio of athletes per capita in the world! That’s the equivalent of 1 athlete for roughly every 66,000 Cubans (apparently we have good genes, ha ha).
Using the same criteria the USA is sending 656 athletes. Our population is over 300 million. That’s a ratio of just over 1 athlete per 500,000 Americans.
So you say just showing up is no big deal? You gotta take home the hardware?
Cuba has the best medal per capita ratio as well. Take a look at the final results of the Athens 2004 games. Cuba won 27 total medals (in javelin, hammer throw, 110m hurdles, baseball, boxing, judo, canoeing, shooting, volleyball, and taekwondo). That’s 1 medal per just over 400,000 people. America won 102 medals in 2004. That’s a impressive ratio of 1 medal per 3 million people.
Cuba’s superstars are in the baseball team which has won a medal in every Olympic baseball tournament. They won the gold medal in 1992, 1996 and 2004 and the silver medal in 2000. The women’s volleyball team won three consecutive gold medals between 1992 and 2000. They missed a fourth Olympic title by winning bronze in Athens in 2004.
Cuba is also strong in track and field and have produced many famous athletes. Alberto Juantorena is the only athlete ever to win both the 400m and 800m at the same Olympic Games during the 1976 Games in Montreal. He was also the first runner from a non-English speaking country to win either event.
High jumper Javier Sotomayor won gold at the 1992 Barcelona Games and bronze in Sydney in 2000. He is considered the best high jumper of all time. Of all the 24 best jumps of all time, 17 are his. Sotomayor is both the indoor and outdoor world record holder with jumps of 2.43 metres (7.97 ft) and 2.45 metres (8.04 ft), respectively. He is the only athlete to have cleared 8 feet and his is the longest standing record in the history of the men’s high jump.