Denmark sports performance: on the up or down?

The Danish mixed relay Orienteering team
Denmark have dropped ten places in the Global Cup 2014, the ranking of the world’s greatest sporting nations, relative to 2013: a drop from 24th to 34th place overall, scoring less than half the points.
The peculiar thing is that according to the National Olympic Committee and the Sports Confederation of Denmark, 2014 has been a historic year. Never before have Denmark won so many international championships in one year - 135 World and European Championship medals were hung around the neck of Danish top athletes.
An in-depth analysis of the figures from GSN on one side, and the National Olympic Committee and Sports Confederation of Denmark on the other, provides a clear interpretation of this difference.
First of all, Denmark underperformed in the Global Cup 2014 because World Championships in sports with biennial cycles such as Handball (Denmark’s top point-scoring sport in 2013), Swimming and Archery, in which Denmark also traditionally perform strongly, were not held last year.
Secondly, 82 medals were won by Denmark at European championships, which, except for some team sports, e.g. Football and Basketball, do not count for the Global Cup. In the Global Cup countries earn points at World Championships, Olympic Games and other major intercontinental tournaments and events.
Thirdly, some of  the World Championship medals won by Danish athletes were awarded in sports which aren’t audited by GSN, such as Ballroom Dancing, Rope-skipping, Speedway and Para-Sports.
This year many World Championships will be valid as qualification for the 2016 Rio Olympics, and will be held in Denmark. For instance, World Championships in Sailing, Rowing and Kayaking, where Danish athletes are traditionally very strong, as well as Archery and Women’s Handball. Moreover, the FINA World Aquatics Championships will be held this year in Kazan (Russia), and Danish swimmers are expected to put up a strong showing.


Our expectation is that Danish top athletes, eager to qualify for the 2016 Olympics, will perform well on home soil as well as in the pool waters at the World Aquatics Championships. In the best case, this will translate into remarkable results at several 2015 World Championships, and reverse Denmark’s 2014 downward trend into an improvement.