Twenty Year Medal Table for Distance Running

Summer Olympic Games 1996 – 2012

Meseret Defar Moscow 2013

Kenya has won more than a quarter of all recent medals in distance running but, when it comes to golds, it is pipped to the post by its neighbour, Ethiopia. There is a difference of emphasis between the two systems, with Kenya training dozens of marathon runners in its commercialised running camps, while Ethiopia has a mainly state-funded approach.

The result is that Kenya produces more athletes but they have shorter careers. Fewer of them win multiple medals. Ethiopia specialises in the longer events on the track and has collected twelve of the twenty titles available in the 5000m and 10,000m. By contrast, Morocco’s focus was on middle distance running, but it has declined markedly since the death, in 1999, of King Hassan II, who was a big fan and a major funder of the discipline.

This table includes medals reallocated as a result of disqualifications. It does not take into account disqualifications where medals have yet to be reallocated, nor the results of retests of 2008 and 2012 samples, where disqualifications have yet to be confirmed.

G S B
Ethiopia 15 6 11 32
Kenya 12 19 16 47
Russia 6 2 3 11
Great Britain 4 0 1 5
Algeria 3 1 1 5
Morocco 2 3 6 11
Romania 2 3 2 7
China 2 1 1 4
Japan 2 0 1 3
South Africa 1 3 0 4
Turkey 1 3 0 4
Italy 1 0 2 3
Portugal 1 0 2 3
Mozambique 1 0 1 2
Burundi 1 0 0 1
Germany 1 0 0 1
Norway 1 0 0 1
Uganda 1 0 0 1
United States 0 3 2 5
France 0 2 1 3
Austria 0 1 1 2
Denmark 0 1 1 2
Ukraine 0 1 1 2
Botswana 0 1 0 1
Cuba 0 1 0 1
Ireland 0 1 0 1
New Zealand 0 1 0 1
South Korea 0 1 0 1
Spain 0 1 0 1
Sudan 0 1 0 1
Tunisia 0 1 0 1
Bahrain 0 0 1 1
Brazil 0 0 1 1
Eritrea 0 0 1 1
Slovenia 0 0 1 1

Next: From the long of it to the short of it – which are the leading countries in sprinting?

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