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China tops Rio Olympic medal standings in expert’s projection

Rio 2016

China would top the Rio Olympic medal standings and the U.S. would win its fewest medals in 56 years if the results were based on the most recent World Championships across all Olympic sports, according to Italian Luciano Barra, who projects Olympic medal counts.

Barra, a former Italian Olympic Committee senior member, tallied 94 total medals for China and 82 for the U.S. Barra totaled the most gold medals for the U.S. (35) over China (32).

The last time the U.S. won 82 Summer Olympic medals or fewer was Rome 1960 (excluding the boycotted Moscow 1980 Games). Rome 1960 had half the medal events of Rio 2016’s record total of 306.

Russia came in a distant third in both counts.

Olympic host nation Brazil has 20 medals, including three golds, far below its 2016 goal, but it will receive a boost from the home-field advantage next year.

The only medals not included in the projections are in women’s handball, whose World Championships finish later this month.

At least one nation has captured at least 100 medals in each of the last three Olympics.

The U.S. and China separated from the rest of the world in the Olympic medal counts the last few Games. The U.S. has won the overall medal count at each of the last five Summer Olympics and the gold-medal count at four of the last five. China earned the most gold medals at Beijing 2008.

In December 2011, Barra’s projections had China easily topping the overall and gold-medal counts for the 2012 Olympics (103 and 43 versus the same 82 and 35 for the U.S.), according to The Associated Press.

But the U.S. excelled at the London Games, earning 103 medals and 46 golds, well ahead of second-place China (88 medals, 38 golds).

Here’s Barra’s accumulated 2016 projected medal count ranking the top 10 nations in gold medals:

Luciano Barra

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