The Sporting Year 2023: Good results create optimism ahead of the 2024 Olympics and Paralympics

Denmark’s bronze medal at the 26’th IHF Women’s World Championship put an end to the sporting year 2023: A very satisfactory year for Danish elite sports, where good results in many sports create optimism ahead of the 2024 Olympics and Paralympics in Paris. However, there is cause for serious concern in two sports – rowing and sailing – which are among Team Denmark’s largest recipients of funds.

Comparative analyzes of elite sports are complex

It is difficult to prepare comparative analyzes of the individual nations’ performance in elite sports. This is primarily due to a number of methodological challenges: Which Olympic and non-Olympic sports should be included in the analysis? Which international competitions – World Championships and European Championships, World Cups and special events such as Grand Slam tournaments in tennis, Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta e Espana in cycling, Formula 1 in motorsport or the PGA Tour in golf – should the analysis include? How should the weighting of medals – gold, silver and bronze – be in relation to top-6 or top-10 rankings? How should the analysis compare sports with many disciplines such as athletics, swimming, rowing and cycling with sports with only one discipline such as handball and ice hockey? And must the various sports such as football, tennis, skateboarding and climbing weighted differently or equally in relation to the individual sports’ international prestige, economy, media coverage or something else?

Several Danish world-class results in cycling, handball and kayaking

Danish cycling has also shown impressive results in the past 12 months, both on track and road. Jonas Vingegaards repeated the Tour de France victory this summer, the team pursuit with Niklas Larsen, Carl-Frederik Bévort, Lasse Norman Leth, Rasmus Pedersen and Frederik Rodenberg became World Champions and Amalie Dideriksen won WC silver medal in the omnium. Denmark finished the year as No. 2 on the UCI’s nation ranking after Belgium, but ahead of strong cycling nations such as Great Britain, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Italy. The team pursuit and the two constellations in Madison – Amalie Dideriksen/Julie Leth and Lasse Norman Leth/Michael Mørkøv – are among Denmark’s biggest medal favorites for the 2024 Olympics, where Mads Pedersen and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig also have good chances for top rankings in the line race in my opinion.

For the first time since the 2012 Olympics, Denmark has qualified both the women’s and men’s national team in handball for the 2024 Olympics. And both teams with really good opportunities to win medals. The men’s national team’s third WC gold in a row was a unique achievement and there is no indication that the team’s results will decrease in the coming years. The breadth of the Danish men’s national team has never been stronger. The women’s national team’s WC performances this year were far more fluctuating, but medals at the last 3 championships testify to a high international level of the women’s national team.

Kayaking is an underrated sport, which has achieved many world-class results over a number of years, especially personified by Emma Aastrand Joergensen. The 27-year-old world-class athlete has already won a total of 3 Olympic medals and 8 World Championships medals. Also in 2023, Emma Aastrand Joergensen has impressed by becoming World Champions in the 500 meter double kayak together with 23-year-old Frederikke Hauge Matthiesen. In addition, Emma Aastrand Joergensen won WC silver medal in the 500 meter distance and she never disappoints at international championships. Emma Aastrand Joergensen, together with the badminton player Viktor Axelsen, who tops the world rankings, the skeet shooter Jesper Hansen and the sailor Anne-Marie Rindom, who won WC bronze medal in 2023, are obvious medal candidates at the 2024 Olympics. All three world-class athletes won medals at the 2020 Olympics.

Rowing and sailing have disappointed greatly – also in 2023

Rowing and sailing have historically been among Denmark’s most successful Olympic sports. That will not be the case in six months in Paris and Marseille, where the sailing competitions will take place. Both the Danish Association of Rowing and the Danish Sailing Federation’s sporting results in 2022 were disappointing – and in 2023 they have actually been even more disappointing. At present, Danish sailing has only qualified for the 2024 Olympics in 3 boat classes: ILCA 6, 49er and 49er FX. And it is only Anne-Marie Rindum in ILCA 6 who has shown high international class this year. Likewise, rowing currently has only qualified for the 2024 Olympics in one single boat class; the Faroese Sverri Nielsen in single sculls. It may be possible to qualify one or two more boat classes during the spring, but Olympic medals next summer in rowing are not realistic in my opinion.

Good chances for many Olympic and Paralympic medals

This year’s 10 World Championship medals in Olympic disciplines are very satisfying. I think there are good chances to achieve the same number of Olympic medals and hopefully 3 or 4 gold medals. Also for the Danish para-athletes, it looks like a good 2024 Paralympics in terms of results. The three “veterans” – taekwondo fighter Lisa Kjaer Gjessing, triple jumper Daniel Wagner and table tennis player Peter Rosenmeier, who all won PG medals in Tokyo, have achieved international results in 2023, which also makes them PG medal contenders in Paris. In addition, Denmark has a tradition of winning PG medals in dressage, both individually and as a team.

A top-8 ranking at the World Championship is a good indicator of world class

The top-8 ranking at the World Championship is a good indicator of athletes and teams that are close to the fight for medals. It is also the indicator used by many nations’ Olympic Committees when awarding direct and indirect support to athletes, teams and federations. Top-8 ranking points are also used by the Danish Sports Institute (Idan), which, in addition to the number of WC medals in Olympic disciplines, uses world ranking (e.g. in tennis, golf, swimming and athletics) or EC medals (handball) the years without holding the WC in order to better compare all years. In 2023, Danish athletes and teams have achieved 127 top-8 ranking points in Olympic disciplines, which is significantly better than last year (87) and above the average for the past decade (125).

International elite sports are more than the Olympics

There are a number of sports, such as bowling, floorball, motorsport, sports dance, cricket and orienteering, which are not part of the Olympics. And there are a number of events such as World Cups in football and cricket, Grand Slam tournaments in golf and tennis, classics in cycling and Formula 1 in motorsport, which are also not included in the Olympic top-8 rankings. The analysis institute “Greatest Sporting Nation” has therefore for a number of years recorded the results in 98 international sporting events, both Olympic and non-Olympic. In this ranking, this year, Denmark is placed as no. 28 among the world’s more than 200 nations and no. 9 in relation to the number of inhabitants. The positions are roughly at the same level as in 2015 (No. 30 and No. 6) and in 2020 (No. 30 and No. 13), which are the most relevant comparative years. The position as number 14 in relation to the number of inhabitants means that in 2023 Denmark is placed significantly worse than Norway (no. 1) and Sweden (no. 5), but better than e.g. the Netherlands (no. 12), Australia (no. 13), Hungary (No. 16) and Finland (No. 18).

Finally, I would like to wish everyone in Danish and International elite sports a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Sporting Year.

You can get further information on the website:

Greatest Sporting Nations –