I am hoping to see the same kind of enthusiasm from Rio in 2016 and hopefully a more even medal count distribution where some less likely nations can also share in the joy that so many of us now probably take for granted.
First radic202 I share your pain re the football. Football can be such a heartbreaking game. I really thought Canada would beat the US, they played really well. Butthen the US women have won 4 out of 5 tournaments so they are pretty good too!
Re the swimming, I do not have a problem with the number of events, or that one country dominates - after all, they have to really work for that. What I am miffed about is that the rules should be even across sports. For example in swimming and in athletics you have the best athletes competing; a country can provide a number of athletes in each event. But, for example, in rowing, cycling and sailing (three we are good at) we can enter only 1. Personally I would prefer not to have just one competitor from each country, after all, the Olympics is about watching the best, but the rules should be applied evenly.
Re taking medals for granted though, I would have to disagree there. As I mentioned earlier, it was as recent as 1996 that we ended the Games with 15 medals - and just 1 of those was gold .
Big 4 or 5? The US are always strong, Russia, despite the collapse of the Soviet Union, remain good across all sports, and China are dominant in certain sports and are starting to make big inroads into other sports too. I think the performance of those three reflect the size of the countries, and these will remain the Big 3.
After that you have a number of countries trying to keep up; Germany, France, Japan and (recently) Great Britain (plus the Aussies who punch well above their weight in sport given the size of population).
There are a number of other countries that usually come away with a decent bag of medals - Italy, South Korea, Holland, Hungary, Kenya, Jamaica, Ukraine, Spain and Romania to name a few.
One thing that really, really grates are countries - and we are guilty of this too - that "buy" athletes from other nations. Hearing post race interviews with an athlete wearing a GB vest and talking in an American accent for example, when there is no justification other than money, is just wrong. Does anyone know what the rules are?
22nd November 1944 - The British Pacific Fleet is born (temporary avatar changes to commemorate the ships and aircraft). HM Ships Formidable, Illustrious, Victorious