We’ve written before about unlucky Olympians here on OlympStats – Olympic athletes who came closest to winning an Olympic medal, but never did. But which nations have come closest to winning an Olympic medal without actually doing so?
Erick Barrondo’s silver medal removed Guatemala from the list of “unluckiest” nations at the Olympics
Until 2012, the clear number one was Guatemala. The Central American nation had raked up three 4th places (including one in the art competitions), four 5th places (adding a fifth in London) and four more places between 6th and 8th. But race walker Erick Barrondo ended his country’s medal drought and became the first Guatemalteco win an Olympic medal with a silver medal in the 20 km.
Nan Aye Khine earned a 4th place for Myanmar (Burma), but was disqualified afterwards for steroid use.
With Guatemala out of contention, here are four nations that have finished 4th on one occasion. Of these nations, the one with the most 5th places is Myanmar, previously known as Burma. The South East Asian country is relatively strong in weightlifting and boxing. Win Kay Thi earned a 4th place in the 2000 women’s flyweight weightlifting, and two more weightlifters and two boxers have ranked 5th (or losing quarter-finalist) in the past. The nation lost another 4th place, achieved in 2004, when it was found that another female weightlifter, Nan Aye Khine, had used anabolic steroids.
Alessandra Perilli took a shot at the medals in London, but narrowly failed.
Behind Myanmar, the unluckiest nation is San Marino. The tiny enclave republic, embedded within Italy, had its best result in London. Trap shooter Alessandra Perilli was involved in a three-way shoot-off for silver and bronze, but missed her second shot and fell outside of the podium. Prior to Perilli, other Sanmarinese shooters had also come close to the prizes: Francesco Nanni was 5th in 1984 (small-bore rifle, prone), while trap shooters Emanuela Felici (twice) and Francesco Amici had earned 7th places.
Ibrahim Kamal (Jordan) lost the bronze medal match in his taekwondo event, but still achieved his country’s best ever Olympic performance.
Similarly close has been Jordan, which has placed 4th, 5th and 7th in taekwondo. Samoa is closing in on these countries:in London 2012, they earned a 6th and two 7th places (weightlifting and taekwondo), adding to a 4th place won in Beijing.