Norwegian speed skater Håvard Bøkko had a less-than-ideal warm-up for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
He was long considered one of Norway’s top medal contenders, but last fall, his outspoken coach Peter Mueller made some less-than-flattering remarks about another female speed skater, Maren Haugli, and Mueller was fired for alleged harassment. Bøkko, who had a close relationship with Mueller, was crushed and eventually secured a deal where Mueller could continue as a private coach. The drama was said to distract Bøkko and he failed to place in the 5,000-meter event he’d been expected to win.
Late Saturday, though, he finally won a medal after placing third in the Men’s 1,500-meter event with a time of 1:46.13. Mark Tuitert of the Netherlands took the gold and Shani Davis of the US won the silver. Bøkko hadn’t been expected to do well in the 1,500-meter, so his medal came as a surprise.
“It’s really great,” he told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “A medal has been my goal all year long.” Head coach Jarle Pedersen was delighted and gave Mueller part of the credit, adding, though, that “it was Håvard himself who did most of the work.”
(Written February 21, 2010)
PICTURE: Håvard Bøkko of Norway competes to win bronze medal in the men’s 1500 metres speed skating race at the Richmond Olympic Oval during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. (Photo ITAR-TASS/ Alexei Filippov) Photo via Newscom