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Sweden confident of Beijing medal gains

China Daily | Updated: 2021-04-01 09:48
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STOCKHOLM-With less than a year to go before Beijing 2022, confidence is growing in the Swedish camp that the country could enjoy its most successful ever Winter Olympics.

Sweden won 14 medals at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games-its best result in the history of the Winter Games.

Swedish Olympic Committee (SOC) chief executive Peter Reinebo says the Scandinavian nation is hopeful of performing even better in Beijing.

"It's exciting. It has been a good winter for Sweden in many of the snow and also ice sports. Skating was fantastic and many of the skiers also did very well," Reinebo told Xinhua in an exclusive interview. "Now we have the curling and ice hockey World Cups, so we'll 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," he added of the five golds, four silvers and one bronze pocketed by his country's female athletes.

Reinebo reckons Sweden overachieved in Pyeongchang, but believes the team's expectations are higher for Beijing, citing the nation's recent successes in biathlon at World Cup events and the world championships.

"Pyeongchang was Sweden's best Winter Olympics so far and the outcome was very, very good in relation to the squad's strength," he said.

"For example, Swedish biathletes delivered results that they had not managed at the World Cup in the run-up to the Games, and now we are a little more spoiled by the fact that Swedish biathlon has such a high level."

"When it comes to sports such as speed skating, cross-country skiing, slopestyle, snowboard and freeski, 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."

Sweden's 14-medal haul in South Korea comprised seven golds, six silver and one bronze. Reinebo stresses that the COVID-19 pandemic's effect on global sports could hamper his country's bid to surpass that tally.

"It will be very difficult to repeat that number of medals. 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 athletes have been able to prepare and train properly for this season," he said.

"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."

Reinebo, therefore, has cautioned the Swedish team against being over-confident about its 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," he said. "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 pandemic has also meant the SOC has had very little opportunity to visit 2022's venues, but Reinebo praised Games organizers for finding innovative ways to prepare teams 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," he said.

"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 organizing committee is working for, that is what the International Olympic Committee is working for, and that is what we are hoping for."

Xinhua

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