Just like that, the Summer Paralympic Games are over, and the question hot on the lips of the nation is… was Skylab right? Prior to the Paralympic Games, Skylab’s Nick Lade predicted China would, for the 5th time, establish their dominance followed by the UK in 2nd place. He predicted both nations would be honing in on the number one spot in the all-time medal table, currently occupied by the faltering US. Well, was Skylab right?
Short answer, yes.
THE LONG ANSWER
The Way of the Dragon
When talking about Paralympic Medal tables there is only one place to start and, as has been the case for the past five Paralympics, that’s with China. In Tokyo they finished their haul with a massive 96 gold medals, 55 clear of Great Britain and 59 higher than the USA.
As we predicted in our previous article, their performance in Tokyo was comfortable enough to lift them above Germany in the all-time table, with their sights now set on toppling Great Britain and USA above them.
China is currently 134 gold medals behind Great Britain and 275 behind the USA in the all-time medal table. Given in the last four Paralympics they have outperformed Great Britain by an average of more than 50 Gold Medals each time, if they continue this incredible run of form, they ’ll most likely replace Great Britain in second place of the overall table by the end of the 2032 Brisbane Paralympic Games.
Moreover, in the previous 4 Paralympics, China has outperformed the USA by more than 60 Gold Medals each time. If this trend continues, they are expected to replace the USA at the top of the All-Time Summer Paralympics Medal Table by the end of the 2040 Paralympics Games.
This shift would be momentous. For the first time since the inception of the Paralympic Games, a nation other than the USA would occupy the number one spot on the all-time medal table, completing a changing of the guard which has been years in the making.
With China most likely to overtake Great Britain in the all-time medals table before dethroning the USA in the games to come, a renewed battleground is likely to emerge between Great Britain and the USA.
Great Britain have finished above the USA in every Games since Atlanta 1996 and therefore have gained significant ground on the USA, closing the gap by 50 gold medals in total, including 4 in Tokyo. Great Britain still lies between 140 gold medals behind the USA though, and if Great Britain continues to perform strongly and beats the United States by an average of 10 gold medals each Games, it will take 14 games (or 56 years) for them to leapfrog the USA in the all-time medal table.
Given this would take an incredible run of form for the UK, lasting over half a century, it is silly to make a prediction on a possible changing of the guard and we should instead be proud of the achievements of the Great British team and enjoy watching their rivalry with the USA unfold in the Paralympic games to come. Could we leapfrog them in this period? Potentially. Will it be a leapfrog for the number one spot? Unlikely, if China has anything to do with it.
From Here to Eternity
Tokyo has helped set the stage for future battles for Paralympic domination. Next stop, Paris 2024, followed by a home Paralympic Games for the USA in Los Angeles 2028. Brisbane 2032 then awaits and wherever the games go after, it’ll certainly be captivating from here to eternity.
If you’d like to talk through Skylab and Skylab: Elite Performance Analysis’s work with the Paralympics, or discuss the future of sport in general, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.