Azerbaijan’s wrestling team will probably continue to do well for awhile

GDP per capita of the Transcaucasian republics, from 1996, the first year the ex-Soviet republic’s competed as separate teams in the Olympics, to 2016 (estimated).

Source: IMF

Thanks to an energy resource boom and attendant economic windfall, Azerbaijan transformed from a county about as poor as its sovereign peers, to far a wealthier and better developed one.

Resources and wealth show strong correlations to athletic performance on the international stage. The more money a country can reward it’s athletes with, the more athletes will commit to pursuing a career in sports. So as long as Azerbaijan remains wealthier than their neighbors, expect them to continue to wrack up medals in future Olympics and world championships.

Ultimately that is a good thing for the sport of wrestling. Although the total number of medals available per country is a zero sum competition, the total amount of resources committed to the sport is NOT. And without touching on the whole democracy, human rights thing, as far as wrestling is concerned, the more petro dollars that are converted into world class grapplers the better.

Edit: including PNG file of graph for easier viewing in certain web browsers (hopefully anyway!)
Screenshot 2014-09-06 at 10.27.31 AM

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