You can survive by being popular, or by being superior, but alternatives that are neither popular nor superior quickly go extinct.
P.S. I noticed a couple commenters on my original Intellectual Gladiators post questioned my assumption that more populous countries would do better in the Olympics. I was too big of a geek not to check. For the 2004 Olympics, the correlation between countries’ population and their number of gold medals was +.46. That’s despite the fact that India won zero.