Swimmer Stefan Nyström being intervied by Swedish Television. Photo: Radio Sweden
Swimmer Stefan Nyström being interviewed by Swedish Television. Photo: Radio Sweden
Olympic games

Swedish troop eyes London 2012

3:21 min

One hundred years ago, the Olympic games played out in Sweden, and although some hope the country will harbor the Olympic flame again one day, the focus now is on London, as Swedish athletes prepare to compete in the 2012 games.

"The Swedish team's goal is to be better than in Beijing, more medals, more top eight places, and more young athletes who make their best results ever," says the head of sports at Sweden's Olympic Committee, Peter Reinebo.

Training overseas

This will be Stina Gardell's first time competing in the Olympics. She lives in Los Angeles, partly because she swims the 200 and 400 metres, and right now most other Swedish swimmers are performing the best in shorter distances.

"That was one reason I went to America, I wanted to train with people who swim my event," she says.

"Now, I'm training with a world champion who's helped me to develop a lot as a swimmer," says Gardell.

Peter Reinebo from the Swedish Olympic Committee says there are special training programmes for up and coming talent, helping them at home and making sure they get in touch with the best coaches worldwide.

For some sports, it is the infamous Swedish winter weather that gets in the way of excelling.

"We are a country far up north, some sports really need better weather in the winter," he says.

Shining dreams

On a blustery summer's day, as thunder clouds threaten the blue skies, several athletes gather at the Olympic Committee's headquarters at Stockholm's Stadium. They have all recently been added to the Olympic troop.

Mountain biker Alexandra Engen says that she has "sniffed at the Olympics before" - she went to Beijing in 2008, but dislodged her collar bone during practice and had to go home.

The kayaking team Josefin Nordlöv and Karin Johansson say they are hoping for the wind to be on their side, as the stretch they will compete on in the English town of Eton is open and "wind sensitive".

"The Olympics is like the big thing, like an Olympic medal is what you dream of since you're little," says Gardell. "I'd probably hang it on the door, where I'll always see it, or above my bed."

Her older and more experienced colleague Stefan Nyström wouldn't treat a would-be medal with quite the same amount of respect. "I'd probably have it in a drawer, where all my other medals are," he says.

It is Nyström's fourth Olympics and he is enthusiastic about breaking some recent personal records. "Yeah, I'm ready. And I feel I can do even faster in London," he says.

Reinebo has high hopes for this year's troop of Swedish swimmers. "We have some swimmers who are top ranked in the world in their discipline and when we arrived in the Beijing we had no top ranked athletes," he says.

And as the Swedish capital prepares to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of hosting the Olympics in 1912, Peter Reinebo believes Sweden may one day host the Games again.

"We really hope for that. We are discussing the Winter Games and the Youth Summer Games in the future, or even in the near future," he says.

Ann Törnkvist
Radio Sweden

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