Through the analysis of the European Junior Taekwondo Championships from 1997 to 2011, we wanted to answer the following questions:
- Who is ruling the Junior Taekwondo in Europe?
- Which are the most promising nations?
- Which are the ones with the most alarming results?
Well, we’ve got the answers and more.
We ranked the nations by their total medal count for the height last championships. The total number of points won is in brackets, and the points-per-medal ratio is in square brackets.
There are three different groups:
- The first group (in red) is made up of the “elite” nations, which always line up several gold-medal winners as well as other top ranked athletes.
- The second group (in blue) comprises nations whose athletes are very high ranked but rarely make it to the top. Once in a while, these nations can disrupt the hegemony of the first group.
- The nations included in the last group (in green) do not aim for the first places. They struggle to win a couple of silver/bronze medals.
We voluntarily chose to ignore the nations with a medal count below 8 units (less than one medal per championship) for the following reasons:
- this study ought to be clear and concise;
- this is a statistical analysis (even though we use very basic concepts… we don’t pretend to be world class statisticians!) and with such a low medal count, the results wouldn’t be relevant;
- one of our goal is to identify which nations hold sway: we consider that these bottom-ranked nations didn’t get sufficient results to be influential.
1. Top Tier Nations
Turkey, Spain, Russia, Germany and Greece form a top 5 well above the other participants. They each won more than 50 medals – except for Greece, with only 48 prizes – and got a total number of points greater than 150. Totaling 301 medals won, this top tier group walked off with 48% of the 624 medals awarded, in other words almost half of them. Equally impressive is that the first place of the ranking has been reached 7 out of 8 times by one of this group’s members – France rocked the boat in 2007. Such a domination doesn’t happen randomly though: this group earns the highest average points-per-medal ratio (3.7).
Let’s get this straight: these past 15 years, Russia has been the #1 nation in junior taekwondo in Europe. Period. Regarding the medal count, Russia only got one less than Turkey or Spain. However, it’s undoubtedly the federation who knows best how to train gold medalists: it’s points-per-medal ratio of 4.4 is by far the highest. It is also the only nation to have obtained the number 1 rank … thrice!!
On the increase
Turkey seems to be the only nation able to take the spotlight away from the leader. Its medal count is higher. The main difference is the medal “color” won by its athletes. A little more gold and Turkey might take the lead.
On the decrease
After being at the top of the class in the late ‘90s, Spain results went down continually. Whether regarding points, medals or rank, all indicators are trending downward! If this underlying trend goes on, Spain won’t stay in the top tier group for long…
Warning also for Greece, whose place in this group is only due to its good results in 2011.
2. Second Tier Nations
The second group is made up of nations with a medal count between 20 and 35 units. The average is around 24, vs. 60 for the top tier group. This difference in results is also visible on the total number of points obtained, since the average of this group is around 70 points, that is, only one third of the elite group score. Yet, France, Croatia, Great Britain, Italy, Sweden, Netherlands, Azerbaijan – all nations in this group – train top-ranked athletes as this group’s points-per-medal ratio of 3.2, is merely less than the 3.7 scored by the top tier group.
Even though it is followed closely by Croatia, France has the lead whether it is about the total number of points (112) or the medal count (34). Besides, in this group only three nations could enter the top 3 (France, Croatia and Great Britain), and between them France is the only one to have reached the first place – in 2007. If they maintain their momentum, soon enough the French will take away the Greeks seat at the elite table…
On the increase
After going through a bad patch in the early 2000s, Sweden has been getting some pretty good results lately and could join France and Croatia. The latter gets steady results but would need top-tier-like results even once to stand out.
On the decrease
It’s pretty hard to interpret the very irregular results of Great Britain. The good results obtained once in a while might be due to the rise of good cohorts rather than the outcome of a long term training strategy for juniors.
Italy is also in a bad situation. Its number of points exceeded the 10 points threshold only once since 2000 and it moved down from the 6th to the 15th rank between 2003 and 2011.
3. Nations lagging behind…
Let’s be clear, the nations included in the third group are not influential: 95 medals out of 624, that is a poor 15.2%. Still, we can recognize the creditable results of Belarus, who moved up to the top 10 on three occasions. Ukraine’s points-per-medal ratio is too low to pretend a better rank. The Cypriot federation doesn’t count anymore in the European junior taekwondo championships, as shown by the curve of its points.
(Keep in mind that the evolution of a nation’s rank can be highly biased, especially for bottom ranked nations).
Regarding the nations with a medal count around 10, we can point up the relative rise of Poland and Serbia – two very young nations in these championships since they won their first medal in 2005. Promising!
Thanks to this analysis, we could highlight the domination of a few nations over the European Junior Taekwondo Championships. We are dubious about Spain and Greece, but we can bet that Russia, Turkey and Germany will maintain their supremacy these next five years.
Besides, it will be very interesting to follow the progress of high potential nations such as France, Croatia, and to a lesser extent Sweden. Beyond the athletes’ personal results, changes in the ranking make things rather exciting! Therefore we count on the long term work of these three federations to carry on and shake up the hierarchy in the future.
Lastly, even though the impact of their athletes is limited for now, we will follow the results of young but promising nations, like Serbia.
Are you surprised by these results? You thought your federation would be better ranked? You want to be critical of the method used? Share your thoughts below!
The results are interesting as such, but we are convinced that we haven’t made the most of it yet. The most straightforward way to learn more seems to be by comparing them to the results of the European Senior Taekwondo Championships. Will we find the same nations on top? Do some second tier nations perform better in the senior category? Will we be surprised to see for instance a federation lagging behind in junior but leading a group in senior?
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- Our first assumption is that the nations included in the ranking participated in all championships. We actually can’t verify this as the federations who don’t win any medals are not ranked. Moreover, the ETU don’t always mention them in its reports. Therefore, rather than excluding them from the ranking, we include nations with no results for a competition with a zero score; considering that by not being present, they lessen their legitimacy in this event.
- We know that the national federations differ a lot in terms of financial means or number of members. Some nations ranked in the last group would maybe get a better place if we had chosen a merit system, which we didn’t obviously.