The 2012 European Taekwondo Championships start in a few days in Manchester. This is the last big event from top athletes across Europe before the London Olympic Games this summer. It’s also a great way for the heads of the federations to assess the shape of their troops. You need to know on what basis to run this evaluation though.
This serves as an opportunity for me to analyze the previous editions. Which is the best ranked country? Is your federation likely to stand out?
All the answers in this complete analysis!
Once again, this study is based on the results of the past 15 years. However, I only used the data of the last three editions (2006, 2008 and 2010) to draw up the rankings; enough to be really significant, but not too much because I mean to identify current trends.
European Championships: The Top 10
The ranking drawn up here shows the 10 nations that count the most in the European Taekwondo Championships. Between Turkey (1st) and Sweden (10th), these nations have won 141 out of 192 medals; that is almost three-quarters of all podium spots at stake.
Besides, we can distinguish two groups of five: top tier nations and second tier nations.
The top tier group had impressive results: It walked off with half (46%) of the medals, which means for each of the five federations, approximately six athletes had medals around their necks at the end of every competition. Moreover, they train a lot of champions. On average, for 10 medals won, they obtained three gold, three silver and four bronze.
Then comes the second tier nations, who won 27% of the medals between 2006 and 2010. Their results are not as impressive, yet each of these teams brought in more than three medals per competition on average. For 10 rewarded athletes, they two were crowned with gold, three with silver and five with bronze. In concrete terms, that’s minus one champion compared to the top tier contenders.
Senior Taekwondo In Europe: The Current Trends
At the very top ↑
Turkey is unmistakably the number one nation in the European Taekwondo Championships. The Turkish federation reached the head of the medal tally five times during the last eight editions, and they are currently on a roll, with the #1 ranking of 2008 and 2010 competitions in the bag.
On the increase ↗
Since 2006, France tripled its number of medals won, reaching the impressive 9 mark in 2010. If we only consider the last three championships, this is a maximum shared with Turkey (results of 2008). These good results take it back to second place of the medal ranking, a position this federation had not reached since 2005. The French will unlikely maintain or improve this good score in 2012.
Great Britain makes progress, slowly and steadily. It must confirm 5th place obtained in 2010, their best result of the past 15 years.
We should also keep an eye on the Greek team. Lacking a champion in 2010, it ended at the 11th rank, but with the same number of medals (four) as the 6th, Croatia. If the Greeks perform like this again in 2012, they should stay in the Top 10.
On the decline ↘
After two successful European Championships in 2006 and 2008, Italy went down to its lowest medal count: two units. The fact that one of these medals is actually gold put this accident into perspective, yet it has to bounce back quickly.
Spain is following a bad trend. This is obvious when looking at the number of medals won; though its results became more stable these past few years. Besides, let us note that we made a similar observation for the European Junior Taekwondo Championships. Panic stations?
The fall ↓
Netherlands, once a strong member of the Top 10, got very disappointing results in 2008 and 2010. Is now the time to get back in the game?
Croatia would be in the Top 10 if not for a disastrous 2006 competition. Sweden, who got the last seat at the elite table, has now been warned!
Having studied the results of both European Junior and Senior Taekwondo Championships, I was very excited to see if it was possible to identify correlations between the two age brackets. To what extent is this comparison relevant?
Junior & Senior Taekwondo In Europe: The Hierarchy Preserved
The following graph allows us to compare the Top 10 ranking of the European Junior and Senior Taekwondo Championships.
Roughly the same elite group of nations
The first and obvious assessment is that the hierarchy of European Taekwondo is preserved. Eight out of the 10 of the most performing nations in Senior are also among the Top 10 in the Junior competitions. The top tier group, made out of the first five, stays the same; the order is the only change.
Besides, there are no big surprises like, say, a federation with poor results in Junior but strong top-level-like results in Senior. Azerbaijan, which appears in Senior, is ranked 13th in Junior, therefore, not so far from the Top 10. Italy, which is 6th in Senior and 15th in Junior might be the rule. However, if we draw up a ranking based on the last eight editions and not just the last three, Italy is ranked 9th in Junior. It’s not that much of an exception then…
There is no direct correlation on the results
We have seen strong correspondence regarding the Top 10 nations between the Junior and Senior competitions. Instinctively, we could also think that a good generation of Junior athletes would lead to a performing Senior team. It’s not that simple.
First of all, it just doesn’t work. Just look at the Junior/Senior results charts of some countries to observe this. There is no pattern that would allow us to bet on the Senior team, based on the results of the Junior team a few years earlier. See, for example, the results of Great Britain, Germany and Russia in Junior and Senior.
Actually, the initial assumption, stating that the results of the Junior Championships reflected the level of a generation, must be reconsidered. It’s not true.
First, there is obviously the human aspect. If the vast majority of top Senior athletes also shone in Junior, it doesn’t work the other way around. Then, in order to assess in a comprehensive way the potential of a generation of athletes, the results of the other big international events must be taken into account. There are about ten major opens a year in Europe; the results sample would be way more significant.
Besides, integrating these results would allow finding short-term correlations. For example, it would be possible to calculate the chances of results of a federation for an event held in August with all the results obtained between January and July. It would be interesting then to combine this information with the long-term approach we have been following so far.
That’s where we should move toward in order to improve the relevance of the studies. This next step represents a lot of work because there is a good stack of data to collect and process. Yet this work will allow us not only to do analysis of past results but also forecasts for competitions to come!!
First try with the London Olympic Games?
UPDATE: Read our debrief on the 2012 European Taekwondo Championships