By Patrick Ekstrand
STOCKHOLM, March 30 (Xinhua) — With less than one year left before the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, the level of excitement is rising within the Swedish Olympic Committee (SOC).
In the 2018 games in Pyeongchang, Sweden won a total of 14 medals — of which seven golds — making it the most successful winter Olympics in the country’s history. With this winter’s successes in mind, this record could be broken next year, SOC’s chief executive Peter Reinebo told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.
“It’s exciting. It has been a good winter in many of the snow and also ice sports. Skating was fantastic and many of the skiers also did very well. Now we have the curling and ice hockey World Cups and will see how it goes.”
“In Pyeongchang, we were the sixth nation overall in the medal league, but if you just look at the women, they won it,” Reinebo said about the five golds, four silvers and one bronze won by the women.
“It was Sweden’s best Winter Olympics so far and the outcome was very, very good in relation to the squad’s strength,” Reinebo said.
“The squad’s strength was good, but the outcome was relatively even better. For example, Swedish biathletes did results that they had not done at the World Cup running up to the games and now we are a little more spoiled by the fact that Swedish biathlon has such a high level,” he said, referring to the successes in the World Cup and World Championships.
“When it comes to sports such as speed skating, cross-country skiing, slopestyle, snowboard and freeskiing, our image is that we have a competitive edge. We also have a few more top athletes now and that is very positive. In the past, those sports have not gotten it right in relation to their potential. Now we have a few more athletes at a really high level, so I am expectant of Beijing 2022 when it comes to those sports.”
The tally to beat is seven gold medals, six silver medals and one bronze. Whether this can be done in Beijing remains to be seen, especially since there are months before the athletes are even selected.
“It will be very difficult to repeat that number of medals,” Reinebo said, adding that the past year has been highly unusual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is a little hard to say where you stand, as the pandemic has affected the sports world greatly and it is not in all countries that the athletes have been able to prepare and train properly for this season. It is clear that the countries and athletes who have been spared from national quarantines and who have found good training opportunities have had an advantage,” he stressed.
Therefore, Reinebo did not want to seem overly confident with regards to Sweden’s chances in Beijing.
“I do not think you should be so sure, you should be a little humble because things can change. A bright picture today can become a darker picture tomorrow and vice versa. I hope we will be able to go to Beijing with the same level of strength in the squad as in Pyeongchang and then we will see how it turns out.”
The current situation also means the SOC had very little opportunity to visit the venues, but Reinebo praised the organizers of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games for having found innovative ways to prepare the world for what to expect.
“Last time we were on site, there were only embryos of facilities. Now we have not been there for a year and a half, but we have however seen the facilities in films and animations that they have done in a very informative way. Because they have created these digital opportunities, we have a decent picture of the facilities. It is of course another story for the athletes and leaders, but we hope that there will be such opportunities in October and November. That is what the Beijing Organization is working for and that is what the International Olympic Committee is working for and that is what we are hoping for,” Reinebo said. Enditem