Saturday, August 01, 2009

DN Galan and World Class Athletes in Stockholm Stadion

Last night I sat in a rainy and windblown Olympic stadium in Stockholm, Sweden and watched one of the fastest men in the world run one of the fastest 100 meter races ever. Tyson Gay, he of the glorious beard. One hundred meters in 9.79 seconds. Unfortunately, it didn’t count. At least it didn’t count for any official records. There was a 2.6 m/s tail wind. The maximum allowed is 2.0 m/s. Without the wind, he shattered the record at Stadion.
But I could care less. I was in Stadion, with thousands of other people, shivering in the cold watching an athletic performance like very few in history. And there was plenty more to see. I get into sports. Not in a very visible way. Instead I get nervous ticks. The legs start tapping, I lean forward, my heart rate rises. I wouldn’t be at all surprise if my pupils dilate. But, despite my boyish good looks, I try to avoid looking at mirrors while watching sports so I can’t verify this. Let’s just say though that the evening left me tapping my legs constantly, my neck sore from leaning forward straining for those few extra inches. And for what you may ask?

Well… I saw Peter Forsberg. From afar, but still. He is clearly the greatest hockey player to ever grace the world with his presence. And if you disagree, it’s obvious you eat baby seal for breakfast and I hate you anyway.

Not only did I see Peter Forsberg, but I watched him throw a hockey stick as a javelin. Which, for some reason, made me very nervous. I was afraid that he would plant and his foot would just explode, forever ending any hopes I have of the greatest hockey player heading back to Colorado and playing for the Avalanche. His foot did not explode.

I saw an American woman, Jennifer Barringer, win the 5000 meter race while wearing a Colorado track jersey, which made me pick her as my favorite if only because of the connection to Colorado.

I saw another American, Allyson Felix, break a stadium record and receive a diamond. Because that’s what they do at Stadion for DN Galan, any stadium record that is broken, you get a diamond. Ms. Felix had already broken one Stadion record a couple of years ago. This was old hat to her.

I saw an old University of Oregon athlete, Eric Mitchum, false start in the 110 meter hurdles, leaving me groaning over the entire stadium, only to watch him pull it together and finish in a respectable fourth place. Having seen him run at UO and never losing to another NCAA athlete at Hayward Field, it was a bit of a surprise not to see him out in front. Turns out the competition has improved a bit.

I saw a Swedish favorite, Mustafa Mohamed, fall in the 3000 meter Steeplechase on the last lap as he was leading with the crowd cheering him, and him alone, on. I heard the groan. Very seldom have I experienced an entire stadium's despair at the exact same moment. Last night I did.

But in the end, none of that mattered. Because I saw Tyson Gay run 100 meters in 9.79 seconds.

Welcome to Sweden. And world class track and field.

Subscribe to a Swedish American in Sweden


  1. So awesome!! I bet you were totally into it!! Too bad the weather wasn't better??!! How fun though!

  2. great you enjoyed it!

  3. How big was the audience? We thought to come and watch, but what with the weather and all... Why not hold it on the weekend instead of a crazy friday night (we're in Uppsala)?

  4. "Well… I saw Peter Forsberg. From afar, but still. He is clearly the greatest hockey player to ever grace the world with his presence. And if you disagree, it’s obvious you eat baby seal for breakfast and I hate you anyway."

    This is my favourite part of this post. Not only because hubby and I worship Peter Forsberg but just because.

  5. I'd like to see a track & field GP event live too. Stockholm being the nearest would be an obvious choice. Watched some of it on TV - thus didn't get wet. Saw some other major accomplishments there that you missed to mention, but that's alright. Hats off to you anyway, since I'm aware that t&f isn't that popular in the States. Even if they are ruling it.

  6. Pfff! Forsberg is not the greatest hockey player ever. Everyone knows that Forsberg is number two. The greates hockey player ever is (ofcourse) an other Swede: Mats Sundin!

  7. "He is clearly the greatest hockey player to ever grace the world with his presence."

    bullshit. you obviously aren't a hockey fan because you would know that bobby orr is the greatest player to ever live.. then martin brodeur.

  8. @mamma – it was pretty glorious despite the weather

    @Persian guy – agreed!

    @Richard – there were a couple of thousand I would guess. But you’re right, a Saturday seems like it would make more sense. Although nothing really got started until 7 so there was time to get there after work.

    @SwedishJenn – because baby seals are awesome.

    @Smek – it’s true, track and field doesn’t get much coverage except around Olympics time. But it is a pretty entertaining sport. There always seems to be something going on. I always feel like Im going to miss something. But it is a whole lot of fun to see live.

    @TB – ahh… theres some Stockholm bias I think. Although, I do wish they had played together when they came to Colorado. There was hope for a while with Sundin on the Nordiques.

    @Anonymous – come on now, fine, Orr. I accept. But Brodeur? Really? He’s not even the greatest goalie of all time let alone the second greatest hockey player of all time.

  9. Gretzky, Lemieux, and Guy Lafleur was pretty good they too.

    The best Swedish Hockey players must be Forsberg, Sundin and Nicklas Lidström.

  10. I think you've got to throw Börje Salming onto the list as well.

  11. You should let me take you to a football (soccer!!) match before the season is over. I think you might quite enjoy the atmosphere at Hammarby!

  12. Ive actually been to a national team match. it didn't really do much for me in terms of the actual sport. but the crowd was fun. no allsvenskan yet though.

    but hell, I'm always down for trying out something new.

  13. drop me a line and we can sort something out. The atmosphere at Hammarby even beats the atmosphere at UK matches. There are some good games coming up in September. You can also meet some of the guys I go to games with. all educated, well travelled Swedes so a good bunch.

  14. sounds good I might just take you up on that.