New Zealand has rocketed up the Olympic Games medal tally to finish in seventh place, 31 places ahead of the United States but five behind Australia.

The Bahamas head the new table compiled on a per capita basis by Waikato University Management School academic David Coy.

The result is a reversal of form from four years ago when New Zealand was 24th on the medal table when population was taken into account.

Coy's system measures Olympic success by a nation's population and its gross domestic product (GDP) separately and combined.

He also allocated points to medals -- five for gold, three for silver and one for bronze.

Poor countries did well when comparing medal performance with economic strength.

Georgia, with two golds and two silver, won that title easily from Zimbabwe with one of each medal, all won by the same swimmer.

New Zealand was 31st, one behind Australia and well clear again of Britain and the US.

And on the final medal table by country under Coy's points system, China fell from second to third behind the US and Russia. Australia was fourth and New Zealand 28th.

"My main interest in doing this is to get New Zealanders to realise that rather than complaining about our performances, it's pretty good here," Coy said.

"We do well economically and in sports terms."

Of the 202 countries in Athens, 75 gained at least one medal and 127 countries got none at all.

"Although there are some remarkable or unusual exceptions, such as Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, winning medals at the Olympic Games is as much about economic power as sporting prowess."

- NZPA