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High jump star Sjöberg reveals coach abused him

Published onsdag 27 april 2011 kl 21.02
"It's very shocking"
(4:04 min)
Patrik Sjöberg, Viljo Nousiainen, Yannick Tregaro. Photo: Niklas Larsson, Lennart Nygren och Pontus Lundahl/Scanpix

Former World high jumping champion and triple Olympic medal winner Patrik Sjöberg has shocked the athletics world in Sweden by revealing in a new book that he was sexually abused by his coach and step-father Viljo Nousiainen. The revelations prompted current jumping coach Yannick Tregaro to tell Swedish Radio Ekot that he was also abused by Nousiainen, who died in 1999.

In his book, "What you didn't see" Sjöberg, who is now 46 years old, said that the abuse started when he was 12-years-old and continued until he was 15-years-old. Nousiainen is said to have given Sjöberg massage when he was naked, photographed him naked, and at times given him sedatives.

" He called it scientific tests since as an athlete you had to measure the body in different ways. Also sperm tests, as he called it, so that he could take the bodies pulse for training purposes," Sjöberg told SVT television.

Viljo Nousiainen died in 1999 and has been described as a kind of coach genius, responsible for Sweden's success in both the high jump and the triple jump. Sjöberg won a World Championship Gold in 1987 and won two silver and one bronze medals at three Olympic games. He trained triple jump champion Chrsitian Olsson and was a mentor to Olympic high jump champion Stefan Holm.

"What Viljo did to me and to other children is the most important reason why I wrote this book. This is not about slandering someone who is dead, but about a story that needs to be told," Sjöberg said in Dagens Nyheter.

The 46 year old said that it was only two years ago when he met another high jumper, the Norwegian Christian Skaar Thomassen, who described what Nousiainen had done to him when he was a kid, that he slowly formed a decision to go public.

Since Sjöberg's revealtions broke on Wednesday, current athletics coach Yannick Tregaro told Swedish news Ekot that he too was abused by Nousiainen from the age of 12.

"For me it started when i was 12-13 years old , my parents were having problems at home and i was turning a lot to viljo for support and it was only a year before he died that it stopped."

The Swedish athletics world has been shocked by the news. Lennart Karlberg, president of the Swedish Athletics Association told Radio Sweden that he had no idea.

"It's very shocking, Patrik Sjöberg was one of the best athletes we have ever had in high jumping while Viljo Nousiainen was more or less looked upon as a guru in coaching so it is very shocking that he has abused Patrik."

Sjöberg says that he hopes the revelations in the book "Det du inte såg" ("What you did not see") will help others to step forward and that it would encourage others in a similar situation to report it to the police.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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