By Nick Butler

A new projection has been released predicting a possible Olympic medals table at Rio 2016 ©Getty ImagesUnited States will finish ahead of China once again on the Rio 2016 Olympic medals table, with Russia in third followed by France, Germany and Great Britain, according to a projection by Italian expert Luciano Barra.

Using a formula based on World Championship results during the current Olympic cycle, Barra, who has reputation as an accurate "projector" of Olympic results, believes the US will win 88 medals,16 less than they managed at London 2012. 

But, with 35 golds, they would finish three ahead of China, who would win 80 medals, while Russia would return to third place on the table after being pipped by Britain at London 2012.

Russia would manage 88 medals of which 28 would be gold.

Other projected high achievers are France and Germany, with 19 and 18 golds respectively, while Britain would win 12, well less than half of the 29 they managed in the last Games and would see them fail to achieve their target of doing better at Rio 2016 than they did at London 2012. 

Australia would rise to seventh, but only with nine golds, while 2020 Olympic hosts Japan, South Korea, and surprise package New Zealand would complete the top 10. 

In a list in which only the top 30 are included, host nation Brazil would finish 17th, with five golds in a total haul of 23, with Kenya the leading African nation one place behind. 

Italy, who finished eighth at London 2012, would only place 19th with just four gold medals.

The top 15 projected countries on the Rio 2016 Olympic medals table ©Luciano BarraThe top 15 projected countries on the Rio 2016 Olympic medals table ©Luciano Barra

The total combines the 155 events in which World Championship events have taken place this year with 121 held last year.

A further 10 events - women's football, all five tennis events and two apiece in the new sports and golf and rugby sevens - have not held World Championships either this year or last year, so are not included at this stage.

Barra, a former sports managing director of the Italian Olympic Committee who was deputy chief executive for the Turin 2006 Winter Olympics, has been praised for the accuracy of his predictions for recent Games.

In Beijing, he projected Britain to win 48 medals, before they actually won 47, while he also correctly predicted the US to win the most medals before.

But in the last two Games, he has got the country with the most golds wrong, predicting the US in 2008 and China in London, when in fact the two powerhouses finished the opposite way around.

A total of 306 events will be held in Rio, four more than the 302 held in London due to the presence of the two new sports golf and rugby sevens. 

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