Norwegian sports bureaucrats, commentators and the athletes themselves have been rehashing the recent track and field world championships in Beijing, and their conclusion was clear: Norway logged its worst showing ever.
Hurdler Isabelle Pedersen’s ninth-place finish was the best Norway could offer at the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) World Championships 2015. Newspaper Aftenposten noted that was worse than the Norwegians’ next-weakest showing in Paris in 2003, when an 8th-place finish ranked highest.
While Kenya, Jamaica and the US dominated the competition, Norway didn’t even make it onto the list of the 32 nations that won medals. It was a far cry from winter sports results, where the Norwegian win so many gold medals that other nations complain they don’t have a chance.
Gone are the javelin throwers and runners who earlier have won medals for Norway. A new generation of athletes hasn’t reached the level of the glory years Norwegians enjoyed in the 1990s and 2000s. Some bad behaviour in Beijing on the part of runner Henrik Ingebrigtsen, who blamed a British rival for ending his dash for a medal and then threatened to trash his hotel room afterwards, didn’t help. Experts said the Norwegians had no one to blame but themselves. Track and field sports simply aren’t popular in Norway anyore, with major events attracting only a handful of spectators unless stars like Usain Bolt show up.
Recruiting is a big problem, with the IAAF announcing plans to boost it in the schools. At present, the Norwegians are simply poor in track and field events, noted commentator Arne Hole in Aftenposten, and he feared “we’ll never be good.”