France and Australia rising, China and Great Britain declining

France hit bullseye in the Women's Basketball European Championships

We’re six months into another action-packed sporting year and the Global Cup, the ranking of the world’s best nations in sport, is already giving firm indications on which countries to back for a strong result at the end of the year.

While the USA, Russia and another powerful ‘winter’ nation, Canada, are well-entrenched in the top spots (the USA have the largest advantage in % terms over their immediate pursuers - after six months - of the last six years), three countries in the top ten are clearly on the rise: France, Norway and Australia
France are enjoying one of their best-ever years: in 2014 they were 11th at the end of June and finished 5th at the end of December, this year they’re second at the end of June, so they could well improve on their best-ever Global Cup placement (4th in 2011). So far they’ve done well in Winter Sports (7th overall) and earned key points by winning the Men’s Handball World Championships and taking the runners-up spot in the Women’s Basketball European Championships,
Norway have punched well above their weight in the last four years, though they may have reached their ceiling: they finished 15th and 16th overall in 2013 and 2014 after standing 4th and 5th at the end of June, so their current 5th place, after a very successful Winter Sports season, may merely confirm their positive trend: their end-of-June average position in the years 2008-2011 was 11, and it’s 8.2 in the years 2012-2015.
Australia too have improvement potential: their end-June placement in the last three years has risen from 11th to 8th, and their final standing in 2013 and 2014 was 10th, so they could potentially do better than that on current form.
Two major countries on a declining trend are China and Great Britain.
China was as high as 2nd in the end-of-June ranking in 2011, and has gradually slipped to its current 9th spot. Year-end ranking has remained stable at 4th in the last two years, yet they will have to make the most of the upcoming Athletics World Championships in Beijing to confirm or improve their position.
Finally, Great Britain have been progressively sliding after their outstanding third place overall at the end of 2012 (they were 6th in 2013 and 7th in 2014). At 18th they’re currently in the lowest end-of-June position of the last eight years (their average position slipped from 8.2 in 2008-2012 to 14.0 in 2013-2015). One of their best chances of recovery comes with the Rugby Union World Championships they’ll be hosting in the autumn: another great tournament to look forward to!