Information is Beautiful Awards 2016 - Shortlist badge

Olympic Feathers



August 2016


Data Sketches’ August month


Excel, R, Sketch/Illustrator, D3.js


Read all about the data preparation here

In the week before the Olympics in Rio started (before August 5th) I started to get an idea for a visualization about the Olympics, something about all medal winners since the very first Olympic in 1896. I thought there would be more than enough datasets about the medallists but was surprised to find only one (thankfully one though) from the Guardian. It wasn’t quite perfect or complete, but it was a lot better than starting from scratch. Eventually, the data preparation took about 12 hours (and then about 15 minutes each day during the Olympics to update the medal dataset)

My first design concept was to visualize each of the 56 disciplines that have been competed at the Olympics as a “feather” and use the inside of the feather to place all of the medals according to the edition and gender. The feather shape didn’t make the final cut, but in my mind, I still call it the “Olympic feathers” project :)

It’s a visualization that takes a bit of time to get, but once you do there are loads of interesting facts to find. Just the way I like to make them.

All of the coding happened in the first week of the Olympics. My days looked very similar then; after my normal working day I came home, put on the Olympics, made & ate dinner, started coding with the Olympics on the background until it was past my bedtime and at some point managed to go to bed. During the first weekend, I actually did this after breakfast instead of after dinner :)

A colleague at work, Jeroen de Lange, who is the creative director, helped me with getting the design to the next level. With nice typographic layouts and advice to improve the overall look (and killing some of my darlings, which were for the better, haha)

It was quite a tiring week, but it was so much fun to code and learn all these things from the data and visualization that I never knew about the Olympics.

Edit September 2016

Very honored to have this project chosen as one of the shortlist candidates of the Information is Beautiful Awards 2016 in the category “Data Visualization”