Who Was z-Best Olympian in 2008 and 2012?
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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