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Just another American living in Sweden


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why this american is rooting for sweden

For all of the sports inclined people out there, it won’t be news that the Olympics are currently occurring. For all of the women’s soccer enthusiasts it won’t be news that the USA woman’s team has won four golds in the past five Olympics. Or I should say, six Olympics, as this Olympics marks a marked decline in the teams results with a loss to Sweden in the quarter finals.

Why, you may ask, would this American then be rooting for the exact team that dashed the USA team’s chances and dreams of winning a fourth consecutive Olympic gold? My answer is Pia Sundhage.

Pia Sundhage

To summarize the media coverage (and awesome memes), after the US lost to Sweden in a nail-biting shoot out, Hope Solo called the Swedish team a bunch of cowards. When asked about this comment Pia Sundhage said “Jag skiter i vilket. Jag ska till Rio, hon ska hem.” The popular translation of which is: “I don’t give a crap. I’m going to Rio, she’s going home”. My personal translation would be “I don’t give a shit…” but I suppose that makes for a slightly less child-friendly meme. So I understand the distinction.

Hope & Pia

What makes tonight’s final even more exciting is the nail-biting shootout win that brought the Swedish team here. After an initial loss to Brazil in group play, Sweden came to play this past Tuesday. Overcoming the initial loss was no small thing either, the two team’s first meeting this Olympics was an epic loss for Sweden with Brazil finding the back of the net a full five times. But with another grand display of defensive play the Swedish team did it again in five shootout shots, with two saves by Lindahl.

And yes, no one in Sweden has any finger nails anymore after all this shootout action.

The cherry on top is that Pia Sundhage was the head coach of the US women’s team for the past two Olympic golds. That is to say Sundhage is coaching tonight for her third gold in a row. Making their win over the US team a little sweeter for the Swedes, and her response to Solo’s comments all the better. But wait, this also happened: A reporter asked Sundhage if she could coach a men’s team. What do you think she said?

A whole country

Mic drop…

Now, I hope I’ve convinced you to also root for Sweden tonight. As we say in Sweden: Heja Sverige!

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let’s talk about sweden

Fun facts about Sweden in the 2012 Olympics:

  1. The sailing duo Fredrik Lööf and Max Salminen brought home Sweden’s only gold in an intense race where they overcame the favorites, Great Britain, which I got to enjoy live. (Salminen sounds a little Finnish if you ask me, but I’m glad he’s here for Sweden).
  2. The triathlete Lisa Nordén was .009 seconds away from the gold. If you check out the finishing photo, it largely looks like a tie.
  3. The long jumper Michel Tornéus was five centimeters away from the bronze.
  4. The men’s handball team won silver – a match I really got into. I realize now the “handball” we play in gym class in the US is not the sport. Although gym would have been a lot more interesting with the real thing.
  5. This summer Sweden came in 37th place in number of medals, bringing home 8. One gold, 4 silver, and 3 bronze.

We’re about half way through the Paralympics, and it looks like Sweden is continuing to do well for itself.

Sweden and the Paralympics:

  1. Sweden currently has 6 medals, 1 gold in table tennis (what ever happened to calling it ping-pong?), 2 silver in shooting and swimming, and 3 bronze in table tennis
  2. Sweden is currently in 31st place in over all medal count (with China at the top, cleaning up with 93 medals so far).
  3. Their only gold, thus far, was won by Anna-Carin Ahlquist in the Women’s Singles Class 3.
  4. Sweden sent 59 athletes to the 2012 Paralympic Games.
  5. The first ever Winter Paralympic Games in 1976 were held in Ornsköldsvik, Sweden.

I’m sure you already knew where Ornsköldsvik is. . .

Now we only have to wait two years for the winter games. Where these Nordic countries really should have an advantage, seeing as the winter here lasts 6 months. Must be a whole lot easier to cross-country ski for 10,000 hours if you have an extra two months of winter. And ice. All over the place.

 

 

(All facts were found using the London 2012 app for the iPhone, or viewed by me live on SVT)


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the olympics

The Olympics. Only you have to say it like that uptight mom from that gymnastics movie that I can’t remember the name of — Stick It!! Yes!! If you haven’t seen it, go watch it. It’s a pretty terrible movie, technically. But fun in the same was Bring It On Again is a fun movie. So for some, not fun at all.

The Olympics had been front and center for a while. Yet, ever since the closing ceremony they’ve been slipping out of the spotlight. Understandably so. Life goes on.

Or does it?

In Sweden they play the Olympics on TV all day every day. If the sporting event you want to watch isn’t on one of the three government-run channels, it can be found online to stream for free. Actually at great quality. And none of that buffering nonsense.

Because of this I watched a LOT of Olympics. I marveled at the mysterious point systems of gymnastics, wrestling (both kinds – I also learned how to tell the difference between them – I think), judo and diving. I was baffled by sports such as ping-pong and water polo – some people spend their time getting ridiculously talented at some interesting things. I stayed up late to cheer on US basketball, men’s and women’s. I spent more time watching athletics, sailing, and handball than ever before. Largely because these are the popular Swedish events. (By popular I mean there is at least one Swede competing.)

A little swimming here and there too, but they already have all the attention anyway, so nothing more to say there.

I stayed up late to watch incredible athletic feats, and got up early to watch incredible athletic feats. And in between these times I’d sleep.

However, since the closing ceremony, the weirdest thing has been happening. During that “sleeping time” I’ve been having Olympic dreams. And not the good kind (anyone else read that there were upwards of 100,000 condoms available at Olympic Village?). In these dreams I was competing. In. The. Olympics.

Now, I’ve had dreams where I’m playing sports before. In college I would continuously dream about playing hockey. Which really didn’t give me much rest from the sport. And in high school I’d dream about soccer or lacrosse, or track (that one time I ran in circles all winter).

But this was different. I have never before dreamt about playing sports I do not play, or for that matter, know how to play. You can imagine how this went. Night after night I dream about being the one person on the court who could not shoot a free throw (yet the coach wouldn’t take me out). Or I’d be half drowning while trying to understand the rules of water polo. Or getting pelted by volleyballs by Misty May Something. (She’s using her married name now too I guess. Wonder what that is….) OR I’d be expected to lift three times my own body weight up from the ground over my head.

Every night since the end of the 2012 Olympics, they have lived on in my subconscious. Though…it’s really rather embarrassing, seeing as I can complete none of these athletic feats at the level that is being expected of me and performed successfully by others all around me.

To be honest though, I’m just honored to be there.