Sara Slott Petersen took the only Scandinavian medal in Rio (a Scandinavian summary for Rio 2016)

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The U.S won 32 medals in athletics alone in Rio Olympics. That was the finest performance by the US in track & field since 1932. I asked Jonas Hedman of friidrottaren.com to provide us a daily report on how Scandinavia fared in Rio (Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark). I wanted RunBlogRun readers to appreciate just how fortunate fans of USA Track & Field were in Rio.

Other countries appreciate one medal, or several sixth places. The U.S. is fortunate to be so large, and with so much talent.

Here is Jonas Hedman's summary for Day 10.

Sara Slott Petersen_Decccca.jpg

Sara Slott Petersen, photo by Deca Text & Bild

Scandinavian summary Rio 2016

Sara Slott Petersen took the only Scandinavian medal in Rio


The Scandinavian countries Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark did not have a particular good overall result in Rio where Danish Sara Slott Petersen's silver at 400m hurdles was the only medal. The four countries have a total population of 28 million people which is about the same as Texas and if we look at the placing table (top-8 in each event) Denmark was the best in the quartet with 7 points ahead of Sweden 5 and Finland and Norway with 4 each. That's a total of 20 which is similar to London 2012 (25) which also included a silver medalj.

Seven Scandinavian top-8 placings
Silver Sara Slott Petersen, DEN, 400m hurdles, 53.55
6th Antti Ruuskanen, FIN, javelin, 83.05
6th Meraf Bahta, SWE, 1500m, 4:12.59
7th Håvard Haukenes, NOR, 50km walking, 3:46:33
7th Sofie Skoog, SWE, high jump, 1.93
7th Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal, NOR, 5000m, 14:57.53
8th David Söderberg, FIN, hammer, 74.61

Denmark: First medal in twelve years
Sara Slott Petersen took Denmark's first female Olympic medal in athletics in 68 years when second at 400m hurdles in a Nordic record of 53.55. In total Denmark has seven Olympic medals and the previous ones was taken by Joachim Olsen in shot put (silver) and Wilson Kipketer at 800m (bronze) in Athens 2004.
A total of eight Danes competed in Rio and the best performances behind Slott Petersen was two runners who reached semifinal: Stina Troest at 400m hurdles (15th) and Andreas Bube at 800m who set a season best of 1:45.87 (16th). Steeplechaser Anna Emilie Møller set a European junior record of 9:32.68 which was also a national senior record. She finished 24th and was only two seconds from advancement.
Overall, all sports in included, the Games were a big success for Denmark since they took 15 medals (2 golds, 6 silver and 7 bronze). The gold came in women 50m freestyle (Pernille Blume) and on the final day the men's handball. 15 medals is Denmark's best scoring since London 1948 and the second best country in Rio behind New Zeeland if one takes into account the number of inhabitants.

Sweden: Only two top-8-placings
Twelve years ago Sweden won three gold medals in Athens thanks to Carolina Klüft (heptathlon), Stefan Holm (high jump) and Christian Olsson (triple jump). All three were in Rio but in different positions. Klüft as a TV host, Holm as a IOC member of the board and coach, and Christian Olsson as a manager for among others swimmer Sara Sjöström who took gold, silver and bronze.


The three athletics golds in 24 hours in 2004 is one of the best moments in Swedish athletics history, nowadays the situation is different. 14 Swedes competed in Rio and the goal was one medal. But the outcome was only a sixth place at 1500m by Meraf Bahta and a seventh by high jumper Sofie Skoog plus two more top-12 finalists.


Behind Bahta and Skoog discus thrower Axel Härstedt was tenth and 21-year-old Sarah Lahti twelfth at 10 000m at a national record of 31:28.43 which was one of the best performances. Another one was 1:59.41 at 800m by Lovisa Lindh. She set two personal bests - 2:00.04 in the heat and 1:59.41 in the semifinal - and missed Abeba Aregawi's Swedish record by only 0.21. The distance to be one of the eight finalists was just 0.36.

Small margins
Several of the best Swedes missed advancement with small margins. Long jumper Michel Tornéus, who jumped 8.44 a month before the Games, was a few millimeters from getting a white flag in the qualification in a jump which would have taken him to the final. Steeplechaser Charlotta Fougberg missed the final with 0.62, discus thrower Daniel Ståhl was 42 centimeters form his final and pole vaulter Angelica Bengtsson had three good tries at the automatic qualifier 4.60.


With two top-8-placings and a total of five points Sweden finished 29th in the placing table, just behind Denmark. Five points is similar to 2012 and 2008 when Sweden got six.


All sports included Sweden took eleven medals including two golds - Sara Sjöström at 100m butterfly and Jenny Rissveds in mountainbike, in London 2012 it was eight.

Norway: 2 x personal best för Grøvdal


Two top-8-placings were the best Norwegian performances in Rio - Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal was seventh at 5000m and ninth at 10 000m and set personal best at both distances (14:57.53/31:14.07). A big surprise was 50k walker Håvard Haukenes who was seventh at 3:46:33 which was a new personal best.


Four points in Rio could be compared to seven in London 2012 and 12 in Beijing 2008 where Andreas Thorkildsen won his second straight gold in javelin. Norway had 15 athletes in Rio which was their biggest team since 1952. In total, all sports included, they took only four medals (all bronze) which is their lowest number ever in the Olympics.

Finland: Worst ever Olympics


Antti Ruuskanen's sixth place in javelin and David Söderbergs eighth place in hammer was the best Finnish placings which meant four points to the country, same as Norway, one behind Sweden and three behind Denmark. In 2012 Finland also took two top-8-places - silver in javelin by Ruuskanen and a fourth place by Tero Pitkämäki (a total of 12 points).


Overall it was a bad Olympics for Finland. The worst ever in athletics according to points and, unfortunately, also in general since Mira Potkonen's bronze in boxing was the only medal.

Iceland: A national record for Hinriksdóttir


Aníta Hinriksdóttir set a national record of 2:00.14 in the 800m heat (26th) which was just 0.14 from advancing to the semifinal. The best overall placing, 21st, came in men's discus where Gudni Valur Gudnason throw 60.45 and missed thei final with two meters. The third member of the team, 2012 Olympic javelin finalist Ásdís Hjálmsdóttir, finished 30th in the qualification. All sports included Iceland did not take any medals.

Jonas Hedman, friidrottaren.com

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