Monday, August 25, 2008

Beijing’s 2008 Olympics Come to an End in Sweden

For the first time in two weeks I woke up to no Olympic sports on TV. It was a bit confusing really. I had grown pretty accustomed to eating breakfast while watching taekwondo, maybe some diving, and of course handball. But I’ll be ok, because now it’s only about two years until the winter Olympics in Vancouver.

With the Olympics over, the talk here in Sweden is about the failure of the Olympic team as a whole. For the first time in a long time Sweden didn’t come home with a single gold medal. In fact, they only came home with five medals total. Four silver medals and one bronze.

Depending on which medal count system you use (America tends to use the overall count, while most of the rest of the world uses gold medals) Sweden finished 41st with their five medals, or 56th with their lack of a gold medal. In fact, using the gold medal count, which they use here in Sweden, the Swedes were only able to beat out Iceland of the Nordic countries. Not really ne of their finer athletic moments. Unfortunately.

Although, for those that did win medals, that doesn’t really matter. So here are Sweden’s 2008 Olympic medalists from Beijing:

Silver - Equestrian - Individual Jumping - Rolf-Göran Bengtsson
Silver - Road Cycling - Men's Individual Time Trial - Gustav Larsson
Silver - Road Cycling - Women's Road Race - Emma Johansson
Silver - Tennis - Men's Doubles Tennis - Thomas Johansson, Simon Aspelin
Bronze - Sailing - Men's Keelboat Star - Fredrik Lööf, Anders Ekström

And of course, Ara Abrahamian who won bronze in 84kg Greco-Roman wrestling but was stripped of his medal.

All in all, not the most successful Olympic games for Sweden. Five medals for 9 million people earns one medal for every 1.8 million people which is better than America’s one medal for every 2.7 million people. It will be interesting to see what happens in the future with Swedish sports. Some people argue that there just isn’t enough money going to the Olympic programs. Other people argue there is too much and it isn’t being used properly. Others are saying that Sweden doesn’t have that killer instinct when it comes to performing under pressure. And still others wonder about the geography. In a country that is shrouded in darkness for half the year, how do athletes get in the proper amount of training to compete with other countries.

When it comes down to it though, none of those are really going to make a difference. Of course they all play a role. What we are seeing in the world of international sports is a bit of a changing of the guard. As large countries that have long been considered third-world (China for example) continue to prosper there will be fewer medals to go around to the smaller countries. Even the US is beginning to realize this as China took more gold medals this year.

So Swedes may lament the lack of medals this year. The poor performance of so many gold medal hopes. But one medal for every 1.8 million people isn’t half bad.

Subscribe to a Swedish American in Sweden


  1. Jamaica: 6 gold, 11 total 2.8 million
    Norway: 3 gold, 10 total 4.6 million
    Debmark: 2 gold, 7 total 5.5 million
    Finland: 1 gold 5 total 5.2 million

  2. yeah I think Jamaica has to be seen as the big winner. They grabbed a few world records to go along with those medals.

  3. I'm not really sure what happened to Sweden other then they are currently in a down cycle when it comes to athletics (soccer and olympics performance this summer).
    Of course we can try to pin point the exact reason but I really dont think it's anything more then a rough Olympic cycle.
    As far as geography goes that certainly is a problem but historically they perform much better then countries like Mexico or Brazil who both have advantages in climate.
    Maybe it wouldnt have been such a disaster if Olsson wasnt injured, Kallur didnt fall, and Kluft stuck with the heptathlon!!!! If you lose three key contributors from an olympic team of Sweden's small size then you are in trouble!

  4. agreed. they had a lot of people that should have at least grabbed some sort of medal and didn't. and I think you're right. its just kind of been a down cycle. and thats what I find so interesting, there are always so many possible reasons. but the beauty of athletics is that it doesnt always work out like it should. thats why athletes perform. and thats why fans watch. because you never know.

  5. You left out Stefan Holm, my 'hero'! A surefire winner in advance. Well, enough of this murmur. I blogged about it in my own blog far too much to continue it here.. But I think Finland grabbed only 4 medals in total.

  6. Smek,
    I didnt leave out Stefan Holm...he wasnt hurt, didnt fall, and wasnt competing in a new event. he just didnt win. Not to take anything away from him, because he's still great!

  7. Yes, he's great. I love and hate him at the same time for it!

  8. @smek - I think you're right. Im pretty sure Finland only pulle din four medals. but one was gold so they got ranked higher than Sweden.

    @travis - yeah that was kind of a surprise. I must say, I didn't really think he would defend his title but I figured he would be on the podium.

    @smek - I think thats the relationship a lot of Swedes have with the olympic team right now.

  9. I was in Stockholm during the Olympics and watched the men's doubles tennis semifinals (well until I fell asleep sometime in the final set) --- what a great match!! IMHO that silver was earned in great play and nothing to scoff at.

    Hopefully, everyone (from all the countries) went out and had a good time and enjoyed meeting and competing with the world's best athletes from around the globe.

  10. yeah that thing was nuts. it just kept going...

  11. Did you ever found out that CAS, the international court came to the decision that Ara Abrahamian where right ?

    FILA, the wrestling association have to change their rules to the next olympics or they might not be one of the sports in London 2012.

  12. This where some of what CAS decided:

    CAS hearing
    The Court of Arbitration for Sport also held a hearing based on the request which was issued by Abrahamian and the Swedish Olympic Committee against the FILA. Preceding the hearing CAS declared in a statement that Abrahamian and the SOC "do not seek from the CAS any particular relief" regarding the ranking of the medals or a review of the IOC decision to exclude Abrahamian from the games.[13]

    Following the CAS issued an arbitration[14] strongly criticizing FILA. Not challenging the outcome of the match and the technical judgments, the arbitration stated that the FILA is required to provide an appeal jury capable to deal promptly with the claims of the athletes.

    The chairman of the SOCommittee, Stefan Lindeberg, commented that the decision once and for all shows that FILA did not act correctly and that they did not follow their own rules of fair play.

    CASA also expressed sympathy for Ara and said that he had the right to express his frustration.

    So whatever the world think, fuck them. The internationl court of sport said different ...

    Ara got his pride ... and he deserve to be

  13. yes I am aware that fila will have to be taking a look at things.

    but thats not at all the point of anything I have written. I am all for him protesting. and I still don't like the way he did it.

    I dont really have a problem with his actions after the match even. its just the actions at the medal ceremony that I find disgusting.