Where They Started
Choose a sport and a county to see where Britain’s Olympians started out

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About this map

What’s this map?

Where They Started redraws the UK map to show which counties have produced the UK’s Olympians over the decades.

Who does it include?

It includes all the Olympians – around 4,000 in total – whose place of birth is recorded in the OlyMADMen database. This database extends back to the first “modern” Olympics in 1896 and is available to browse online at SportsReference.com.

Not included are around 1,000 Olympians whose place of birth is not known, plus more than 400 who competed for Britain but were born abroad.

What does it show?

A whole host of trends are visible on the map. Some aren’t very surprising – boxers tend to come from big cities, while sailors often hail from the coast. Others are less obvious, such as Northern England being good at swimming, or South Wales being good at gymnastics.

Do the maps take account of population size?

Counties are scaled according to absolute numbers: the more athletes a county produces, the bigger it is. But we’ve also included a population map. Click between the population map and the map for any sport to see how counties have performed relative to their population sizes.

Note that population estimates are from 2010 for England, Scotland and Wales, while the Northern Ireland data is from 2001.

Which types of counties are shown in the map?

“County” is a blurry term in the UK. There are different types, and definitions have changed over time. This map shows the counties many of us will be most familiar with: Ceremonial Counties (aka Lieutenancies) in England; Preserved Counties in Wales; Local Government Areas in Scotland; (Traditional) counties in Northern Ireland.

What kind of map is this?

It’s a modern digital take on the cartogram: a map where regions are resized to reflect data.

Who made it?

The map was produced for Join In Local Sport by Kiln.

How can I get in touch?

You can email Join In at hello@joininuk.org.

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The Join In Weekend on August 18/19th is an opportunity for clubs and community groups to attract new members, helpers and supporters. Host an event and be part of the UK's biggest celebration of local sport.