The British newspaper The Guardian has a feature on their website where you can get data about the Olympians. Link here: London 2012 Olympic athletes: the full list.
Browsing the list is a good reminder of the world-wide diversity we have with person names.
The names are here formatted with the surname(s) followed by the given name(s). The surname is in upper case.
The sequence of names is for the Chinese and other East Asian Olympians like they are used to opposite to other Olympians from places where we have the first name being the given name and last name being our surname.
Having the surname in upper case also shows where Olympians have two surnames as it is custom in Spanish cultures.
And oh yes. The South African guy has JIM as his surname.
Finally from this screen shot there is a good question. Is JIANG Wenwen superb at both synchronized swimming and track cycling – or is it two different Olympians with the same name. Some names are very common in China. A little goggling tells me it is two different persons. The synchronized swimmer is more related to her twin sister and swimming partner JIANG Tingting.
Let’s check if there is more than one “John Smith”.
But it could be fun if “Kim Smith” and “Kimberley Smith” came from the same country.
Many Olympians actually don’t have the names reflected in this sheet as many have names in a different alphabet or script system.
The Danish cycling rider “SORENSEN Nicki” actually share my last name, as we know him as “Nicki Sørensen”. The Serbs, Ukrainians and Russian Olympians have their original name in the Cyrillic alphabet, but they have been transliterated to the English alphabet and Olympians from countries with other script systems than an alphabet have had their names gone through a transcription to the (English) alphabet.
So, is the list bad data quality?