SYDNEY • China are on track to return to the top of the medal table at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics next year ahead of the United States and Russia, according to a benchmark study released by the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) yesterday.
The annual study, which analyses the results in Olympic disciplines at world championships and other elite events, gave China 39 golds based on the performances of their athletes in 2015.
The US, table-toppers in London in 2012, are expected to win 35 golds ahead of Russia (25), with Japan the best of the rest behind the three sporting superpowers on 18.
Rio hosts Brazil, meanwhile, are projected to finish outside the top 20 with just three golds.
Britain could be joint-fifth with France on 15 golds, while Australia and Germany are projected to tie for seventh on 13.
That tally would nearly double Australia's haul of seven golds in London, where a 10th-place finish on the medal table gave the sports-mad country one of its most disappointing Games.
Kitty Chiller, Australia's chef de mission for Rio, was encouraged by the data and said the AOC's target of a top-five finish next year was a viable goal.
"We have moved from a total of seven golds in London in 2012 to 13 golds this year," she said in a news release. "Overall we've had a better year, the gold medal tally is a tremendous improvement and the signs are good."
The study showed that Australia's traditionally strong swimming team are on course for seven golds.
Russia's tally included two golds from track and field. But the Russian Athletics Federation was suspended last month following a report that exposed widespread, systematic, state-sponsored doping and related corruption. The country's athletes face a race against time to be cleared to compete in the Rio Olympics.