With only four medals and none of them in gold or silver, Norwegian athletes chalked up their worst Olympic performance in Rio de Janeiro since the summer games in Tokyo in 1964. Promises that Norway would do much better than it did last time in London were not fulfilled.
Not even international superstars like golfer Suzann Pettersen, who ended up in 10th place, managed to raise Norwegian standings at the Summer Olympics in Rio that ended on Sunday. Norway’s women’s handball team had been gold medal favorites as well, but they suffered a bitter loss to Russia in the semi-final and took home the bronze as a consolation prize after beating the Netherlands.
When it was all over, Norway had bronze medals in rowing, wrestling and handball. Sweden, by comparison, did much better, winning two gold medals, six silver medals and three in bronze. Denmark also won gold, with their men’s handball team sweeping to victory for the first time, along with six silver medals and seven in bronze. Only Finland performed more poorly than Norway among the Nordic countries, winning with just one bronze medal.
Top athletics bureaucrat Tore Øvrebø, who had promised better results after the London disappointment in 2012, apologized for the poor performance but had no intention of quitting. On the contrary, he was making new promises that Norwegian athletes would do better at the next summer games, back in Tokyo.
Øvrebø stressed that Norway is best known and qualified as a winter sports nation, and indeed it has led the medals rush at the Winter Olympics for years. He also claimed that Norwegian athletes in summer sports are in the midst of a “generational shift,” with former medal winners like javelin star Andreas Thorkildsen being replaced by younger talent that’s not yet established.
“I’m not satisfied with the results,” Øvrebø told reporters in Rio on Sunday, “but I don’t think the results are directly tied to me. We have to look at the resources available and at recruiting.”
Norway at least had a higher profile at the closing ceremonies Sunday night, where electronica music star Kygo (Kyrre Gørvell Dahll) performed in pouring rain before around 90,000 spectators and millions more around the globe. “It was fantastic,” Kygo wrote on social media after leaving the stage. He performed his new single Carry me with artist Julia Michael.