Norwegian athletes did not get off to a good start when the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro finally got underway during the weekend. Norway, known for topping results in the Winter Olympics, suffered one major disappointment after another.
“We’ll just hope that someone shows better form than what we’ve seen so far,” Jann Post, commentator for Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), said after the first two days of competition.
Not even Norway’s women’s handball team, which has won gold at earlier Olympics, did well, losing to host country Brazil in their opening match. Half of Norway’s four-man cycling team had to drop out of their competition, and swimmer Henrik Christiansen delivered a disappointing performance as well. He’d delivered a new record in Norway but didn’t have a chance against the tougher competition in a men’s 400-meter race.
Norway’s top cyclist Edvald Boasson Hagen had to swap bikes and his treammates Sven Erik Bystrøm, Lars Petter Nordhaug and Vegard Stake Laengen also had equipment problems. With the Olympics starting shortly after the gruelling Tour de France ended, Post suggested that none of the Norwegian cyclists “had super legs” when their first “OL” race got underway. Questions were rising about their pre-Olympic training program.
Some of Norway’s rowers did better, but Norwegian star Olaf Tufte was disappointed with his own performance along with Kjetil Borch. Nils Jakob Hoff managed to qualify for the quarter-finals after winning his qualifying heat. Borch and Tufte also ended up advancing to the semi-finals.
The only real bright spot within Norway’s relatively small team at the Olympics was gymnast Stian Skjerahaug. He did well in qualifying rounds, and even though he didn’t reach the finals, the 24-year-old’s performance was deemed encouraging.
The Olympics run until August 21, with Crown Prince Haakon planning to attend from August 17-20.