Which athletes, teams and sports can win Olympic medals for the Nordic countries?

In two month, Paris will host the “Games of the XXXIII Olympiad” or “Paris 2024”, where 10,500 athletes from more than 200 nations will compete in 32 different sports. For the first time in the history of the Olympic Games, the number of female and male athletes is completely equal. Likewise, the number of disciplines in which both sexes compete together has significantly increased. Over 16 intense days, a total of 329 sets of medals will be awarded, most of them in athletics with as many as 48 and the fewest in football, handball, golf and modern pentathlon with only two sets of medals – one for women and one for men. There are four new sports on the 2024 Olympic programme: breakdancing, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing. All four sports, which have very limited distribution in the Nordics and where the number of Olympic athletes from the Nordic countries will be minimal.

The Olympics have an extremely large media focus

For virtually all athletes, the Olympics are a unique event where dreams and magical moments can be realized. However, the Olympics can also be the event where many years of hard training efforts, week-long training camps and great deprivation from family and friends are in no way rewarded. Among the most important factors for the Olympics’ special character is the enormous attention from millions of electronic and digital media that the event attracts. It is estimated that Olympic disciplines such as the finals in athletics, swimming, golf and tennis, have up to 2-3 billion television viewers or almost half of the world’s population.

Remarkable sporting results with modest populations

The four Nordic countries – Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark – have both historically and currently achieved remarkable results at the Olympics, especially in relation to the Nordic countries’ relatively modest population. The sporting success in the Nordics can be explained on the basis of many different factors: high prosperity and a strong welfare model, financial resources for elite sports from the state and municipalities, diverse sport clubs with high participation by children, targeted talent development, efficient organizational and management structure, good training facilities, competent coaches, and close connection between research, innovation, training and competitions.

The analysis institute predicts 29 Olympic medals for the Nordics

In my opinion, sporting success at the Olympics can be measured on three parameters: the number of qualified sports, top-8 rankings and medals. For most sports, the Olympic qualification for the Games in Paris has been completed, but for some sports such as athletics and swimming, the “Olympic Trials” in the US only take place at the end of June, i.e. only one month before the Games. The national Olympic committees are these weeks setting goals for their teams and athletes in the individual sports. There are different methods to solve that task, but most nations usually use the last 2-3 years’ World Championship results as benchmarks. It is also the method used by the analysis institute “Gracenote Global Sports Data”, which recently published the expected number of medals for the individual nations at the 2024 Olympics. “Gracenote” chose to specify the carat of the medals (gold, silver and bronze), but neither athletes, teams or sports. “Gracenote” predicts that Denmark will win 11 medals (5-2-4), Sweden 9 medals (5-2-2), Norway 8 medals (4-2-2), while Finland will “only” win a single bronze medal. In the following sections, let me offer my bids on the biggest medal candidates in individual countries.

Sweden – Sarah Sjöström is a strong medal candidate

Currently, Sweden has qualified athletes and teams for the 2024 Olympics in 14 sports and will probably qualify athletes and teams in a further 4-5 sports. The number of sports will thus be less than the 2020 Olympics, where Sweden was represented in 22 sports. In my opinion, Sweden’s biggest Olympic medal candidates are the pole vaulter Armand Duplantis and the discus thrower Daniel Ståhl, who both won Olympic gold in Tokyo, as well as the swimmer Sarah Sjöström, who has previously won four Olympic medals and eight World Championship medals in long distance. In addition, Sweden has good medal chances in equestrian jumping – both individually and as a team – Jonatan Hellvig and David Åhman in beach volleyball as well as 49er FX sailors Vilma Bobeck and Rebecca Netzler.

Norway – Two medal candidates in the 1,500 metres

Currently, Norway has qualified athletes and teams in 13 sports, which is at the same level as the 2020 Olympics. In recent years, Norway has developed a number of world-class athletes in athletics, several of whom are medal candidates in Paris. The 400-m hurdler Karsten Warholm, who won Olympic gold in Tokyo and the World Championship title in both 2017, 2019 and 2023, is the big favorite for an Olympic medal, just as the battle for the Olympic medals in the 1,500 m has two Norwegian candidates: Jakob Ingebrigtsen and Narve Gilje Nordås. Beach volleyball duo Anders Mol and Christian Sørum and triathlete Kristian Blummenfelt, who won Olympic gold in Tokyo, are also good Norwegian medal bids in Paris. Finally, I believe in Olympic medals for the Norwegian handball women and Jon-Hermann Hegg in rifle shooting.

Finland – Medal candidates in athletics

Currently, Finland has qualified athletes and teams in 8 sports and will probably not reach 11 sports, which was the number at the 2020 Olympics. Over the past decade, Finland has seriously lost competitive power compared to the other Nordic countries, as it is only turned into one bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio and two bronze medals at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. In my opinion, the biggest Finnish medal candidates in Paris are pole vaulter Wilma Murto and hammer thrower Silja Kosonen.

Denmark – Many medal candidates in cycling

Currently, Denmark has qualified athletes and teams in 13 sports, but a further 4-5 sports – athletics, golf, triathlon and tennis – will probably be added in the coming weeks. The total number of sports will thus be at the same level as at the most recent Olympic Games. In my opinion, Denmark clearly has the most medal candidates in cycling, both on the track (the team pursuit, Madison and Omnium for both women and men) and on the road (Mads Pedersen). The badminton player Viktor Axelsen, the kayakers Emma Aastrand Jørgensen (K1-500 and K2-500) and Frederikke Matthiesen (K2-500), the men’s team handball and not least the sailor Anne-Marie Rindom, who like Axelsen won Olympic gold in Tokyo, appear as obvious medal candidates.

The Olympic Games always contain sporting surprises, both positive and negative. This will also happen at the upcoming 2024 Olympics in Paris. I believe – like “Gracenote Global Sports Data” – in many Olympic medals for both Denmark, Sweden and Norway. A total bid of 29 Olympic medals for the Nordics is very realistic, whereas the estimate of 14 gold medals is, in my opinion, too optimistic. For comparison, it can be mentioned that the Nordic countries won a total of 31 medals, of which 4 were gold, at the 2016 Olympics and 30 medals, of which 10 were gold, at the 2020 Olympics.

You can get further information on the following websites:

 

Table 1: Olympic medals 2004–2020 – Nordic countries

 

Athen

2004

Beijing

2008

London

2012

Rio

2016

Tokyo

2020

Sweden

7

(4-2-1)

5

(0-4-1)

8

(1-4-3)

11

(2-6-3)

9

(3-6-0)

Norway

6

(5-0-1)

9

(3-5-1)

4

(2-1-1)

4

(0-0-4)

8

(4-2-2)

Finland

2

(0-2-0)

4

(1-1-2)

3

(0-2-1)

1

(0-0-1)

2

(0-0-2)

Denmark

8

(2-1-5)

7

(2-2-3)

9

(2-4-3)

15

(2-6-7)

11

(3-4-4)

 

Table 2: Olympic Top-8 ranking points 2004–2020 – Nordic countries

 

Athen

2004

Beijing

2008

London

2012

Rio

2016

Tokyo

2020

Sweden

127

106 123 131

134

Norway

68

94 46 30

87

Finland

21

51 35 14

30

Denmark

98

87 148 135

135

 

Note: International analysis and research institutions often use Top-8 points at the Olympics and World Championships. No. 1 (Gold medal) is awarded 8 points, No. 2 (Silver medal) is awarded 7 points, No. 3 (Bronze medal) is awarded 6 points … and No. 8 is awarded 1 point. The explanation is that the density of competition in the vast majority of Olympic disciplines has become more and more intense, which means that the margins between a medal winner and ranking as No. 4 or No. 8 are very often extremely modest.

Source: The Danish Institute for Sports Studies – https://www.idan.dk/om-os/about-us/

 

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