We asked Jonas Hedman to update us on the prospects for Scandinavian athletes in Rio 2016. Here is what he wrote!
Several medal chances for the Scandinavian countries in Rio
The four Scandinavian countries Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark all have good traditions in athletics and from a historic point of view we can without a doubt use the word “great” for Finland and Sweden. Finland is number five on the Olympic all-time-list regarding top-8-placings with 1299 points and Sweden is number six with 1212. The first four are USA, Germany, Great Britain and Soviet Union (which include Russia). â€¨The Scandinavian countries have a total population of just 28 million people but the medal chances are at least five – Finland’s Antti Ruuskanen and Tero PitkÃ¤mÃ¤ki in the javelin, Sweden’s Michel TornÃ©us (long jump), Daniel StÃ¥hl (discus) and Denmark’s Sara Slott Petersen (400m hurdles).â€¨
Finland: Once again it’s all about the javelin throwersâ€¨
The Finnish team includes 17 athletes – eight men and nine women – and the biggest medal contender is javelin thrower Antti Ruuskanen. He was originally third in London 2012 but since silver medalist Oleksandr Pyatnytsya from Ukraine tested positive for a banned substance in re-tests conducted by the IOC Ruuskanen will most probably be upgraded to silver (the info was published on 9 August).â€¨
The 32 year-old Finn has a good championship record and was fifth at the World championships in Beijing 2015, won gold in the Euro champs in 2014 and was third in Amsterdam a month ago. He is equal second on the World list with 88.23 and is one of several guys who will be fighting for the gold. â€¨â€¨
Veteran Tero PitkÃ¤mÃ¤ki, 33, is also among the medal contenders and was fourth in London 2012 and third in Beijing in 2015. Four years ago in London all three Finns reached the final and the same trio will compete in Rio since Ari Mannio (tenth in London) also made the team.â€¨
Javelin is the number one athletics event in Finland and their record is fenomenal with 22 Olympic medals for men (seven golds!). The latest one was in 1988 when Tapio Korjus threw 84.28 in the last round to beat Jan Zelezny by 16 centimeters, but Heli Rantanen won gold for women in 1996.
It’s hard to find any other medal contenders in the Finnish team for Rio but a really interesting name is 18-year-old pole vaulter Wilma Murto who set a World junior record of 4.71 during the indoor season. She was fifth at the European championships in Amsterdam a month ago and third in the World junior championships in Poland two weeks later.
Norway have their biggest team since 1952â€¨
Norway has participated in all Olympic Games in athletics except three and has taken 25 medals including 9 golds. The two latest are from 2008 and 2004 and the man behind them is javelin thrower Andreas Thorkildsen who finished his career earlier this year. â€¨â€¨
The Norwegian team of 15 athletes is the biggest since 1952 when 19 runners, jumpers and throwers competed in Helsinki, and includes several interesing new guys that could be stars in the future. Decathlete Karsten Warholm, 20, won the World Youth octathlon title in 2013, and got two silvers at the European junior championships last year, the decathlon and 400m. It was quit a performance since he ran the individual 400m final between the high jump and the 400m in the decathlon and was jus 0.02 from the gold!â€¨However, in Rio he is running the 400m hurdles (!) after setting three national records and lowering the time a whole second to 48.84 which make him number eleven on the ranking list in Rio. â€¨â€¨
The only Norwegian athlete who will double in Rio is long distance runner Karoline Bjerkeli GrÃ¸vdal, 26, who will run both 5000 and 10 000m. She was a World championship finalist at 5000m in 2013 and has this summer lowered her personal bests to 14:57.77 (5000m) and 31:23.45 (10 000m). The latter one is from the European championships when she got silver.â€¨
Another interesting name is 800m runner Hedda Hynne, 26, who have had a good progress during the last three seasons. She set a Norwegian indoor record of 2:01.82 in February and was seventh at the European championships a month ago when she lowered her personal best to 2:00.94. â€¨â€¨
Denmark put its hope to Slott Petersenâ€¨
The star in the Danish team of eight athletes is 400m hurdler Sara Slott Petersen, 29. She had a big breakthrough in 2015 when she lowered her national record in four straight races and increased her 55.73 from 2012 with 1.7 seconds to 53.99! That gave her third place on the World list in a year when she finished fourth in the World championships.â€¨This year she had injury problems during the spring and missed several meets in May and June. But she came back in time for the European championships and won which was Denmarks’s first ever in athletics for women. Since then she has lowered her season best to 54.33 which make her number six among those who will compete in Rio.â€¨â€¨
Iceland has three athletesâ€¨
Iceland isn’t a part of Scandinavia but is one of the five Nordic countries and that’s why we include them here. The island country only have a population of about 300.000 people and only three athletes qualified for Rio. Javelin thrower ÃsdÃs HjÃ¡lmsdÃ³ttir, 31, was a finalist in London four years ago and was eight in the European championships in July. Her season best is 61.37 and she is probably the one in the trio who will get the best placing.â€¨20-year-old 800m runner AnÃta HinriksdÃ³ttir is a great talent who won the World Youth championships in 2013. She was fifth at the World indoor championships in Portland last winter and has a personal best of 2:00.49 and a pb who is just 0.05 slower. She could make it to the semifinal. â€¨â€¨
If you want to find out all the names in the teams go to the IAAF website and choose country:â€¨