A Night to Remember for Denmark's Sara Slott Petersen


Sara-Slott-Petersen_Deca-Text&Bild.jpgSara Slott Petersen, Photo: Deca Text&Bild

Sara Petersen's strong race in the 400 meter hurdles final set a National record for the Dane plus gave Petersen the silver medal. Here is Jonas Hedman's daily piece on all things Scandanavia.

Scandinavian Summary Day 7

A Night to Remember for Denmark's Sara Slott Petersen

She was one of few Scandinavian medal contenders in Rio and when it really mattered 400m hurdler Sara Slott Petersen, 29, from Denmark ran the race of her life. With 53.55 she lowered her own Scandinavian record by half a second and got the silver - the best ever Olympic placing in athletics by a Danish woman.

"It's just fantastic! I really wanted a medal, everything worked out well and I also broke the Scandinavian record despite loosing speed on the last hurdle", said Slott Petersen.

She got lane four with gold favourite Dalilah Muhammad inside and the top ranked american passed her as soon as after one hundred meters. But Slott Petersen stayed cool, continued in her own tempo and ran a fast the second curve which put her in second position when the field hit the home straight.

She couldn't do anything about Muhammad but Ashley Spencer and Zuzana Hejnova closed the gap behind her and when Slott Petersen got her stride wrong on the last hurdle it looks like she was about the loose the medal. But she was strong during the last 40 meters and took the silver 0.42 behind Muhammad and 0.17 ahead of bronze medallist Ashley Spencer from USA.

Second Danish female medal
53.55 was a new Scandinavian record by 0.46 and Slott Petersen became just the second Danish woman in history to get an Olympic medal in athletics. The first one was javelin thrower Lily Carlsted who was second in London 1948. In total it was Denmark's seventh Olympic medal, the only one who has two is 800m runner Wilson Kipketer who took silver in 2000 and bronze in 2004.

A lot of hard work during many years
Sara Slott Petersen, 29, won the European Youth Olympics in 2003 and after a long career she finally reached the top! She had a big breakthrough in 2015 when she lowered her own three year old Danish record four times in four straight races with a total of 1.7 seconds and finally broke the Scandinavian record. A record that had stood since the year she was born and which she lowered with 0.16 when clocking 53.99 in Paris Diamond League.

In the World championships in Beijing she finished fourth in 54.20 and missed out on a medal with just 0.20.

"In the call room, just before the final, I started to think about what a medal would mean for a lot of people in Denmark and it turned out that I couldn't handle the pressure. That was the reason I missed the medal", says Slott Petersen.

Since then she has worked a lot to be mentally stronger and it payed off. But she had a tough start of the season since she got injured during the spring and missed several Diamond League meets in May and June. But her coach Mikkel Larsen got her back to shape and in July Slott Petersen became Denmark's first ever female European championships medallist when winning in Amsterdam in 55.12. Sara Slott Petersens whole 2016 is Danish athletics history!

Lovisa Lindh - PB in both heat and semifinal
There were several Scandinavian smiling faces during the seventh day of the Olympics in Rio and two of them belonged to Swedes Lovisa Lindh, 800m, and Sofie Skoog, high jump. Lindh took a sensational bronze medal at the European championships in July setting a new personal best of 2:00.37. In the first round in Rio she lowered that time to 2:00.04 and became the first Swede in 32 years to reach an Olympic semifinal in the event.

25 year old Lindh has proven several times that she is at her best when it comes to championships and she did also this time. In the semifinal the speed was faster and she passed 400m in 58.2 as eight but, just like in the heat, she finished strong and passed four on her way to fourth place and a new personal best of 1:59.41!

For the first time she broke two minutes and in total she lowered her personal best in Rio with almost a second (0.96)! She also moved up to second place on the Swedish all-time-list and missed Abeba Aregawi's national record by just 0.21. But Lindh didn't get to the final, for that she would have needed to shave off another half second.

A PB took Sofie Skoog to the final
In the women's high jump qualification Sofie Skoog had just one failure on her way up to 1.94 which was an outdoor personal best and targeted her indoor PB. She was clean over both 1.92 and 1.94 and looked as she was the happiest woman in Rio when hugging her coach, 2004 Olympic gold medallist Stefan Holm!

Country woman Erika Kinsey, who jumped 1.97 last year, continued to struggle. She did not get her technique to work and was never close at 1.89. The other two Scandinavian jumpers was Finland's Linda Sandblom who cleared 1.89 and Norway's European silver medallist from 1992, Tonje Angelsen who only managed 1.80.

In the 1500m semifinal Norway's Henrik Ingebrigtsen, fifth in London 2012, had nothing in the tank on the last lap and finished eleventh in in 3:42.51, 2.3 seconds from advancement.

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