Who Was z-Best Olympian in 2008 and 2012?

  • Ian Douglas MacKay Middlebury College
  • John Woodward Markusen Middlebury College
  • Paul M. Sommers Middlebury College
Keywords: Olympics, z-scores


The authors use z-scores (i.e., the number of standard deviations above the mean) to gauge the dominance of gold medalists in individual swimming, track, and gymnastic events at the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympic Games.  Since a last place finisher’s time or score could dramatically skew the results, the ninety-six z-scores (forty-eight for each Olympics) are recalculated for the women’s and men’s other seven finalists in each of twenty-six individual swimming events, twelve track events, and four (six) gymnastic events for women (men).  Surprisingly, using these standardized scores (and recalculated z-scores), the most dominant Olympic champion was neither swimmer Michael Phelps nor sprinter Usain Bolt.

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Author Biographies

Ian Douglas MacKay, Middlebury College
John Woodward Markusen, Middlebury College
Paul M. Sommers, Middlebury College
Paige-Wright Professor of Economics

How to Cite
MacKay, I. D., Markusen, J. W., & Sommers, P. M. (2014). Who Was z-Best Olympian in 2008 and 2012?. Journal of Student Research, 3(1), 1-12. Retrieved from https://jofsr.org/index.php/path/article/view/156
Research Articles