Icelanders should be content with the performance of their athletes at the London Olympics which concluded on Sunday, according to sports journalists. Three Icelandic records were set during the Games and the athletes of two Icelandic coaches won medals.
Archive photo by Geir Ólafsson.
Iceland had 27 competitors at the Olympics this year, a higher number than other small nations with a population of under one million, as stated in a review of the Games by Kristján Jónsson in Morgunblaðið.
Seven of Iceland’s competitors were swimmers. Sarah Blake Bateman was considered the most successful of these, breaking the Icelandic record in 100-meter butterfly and placing 16th-18th in the 50-meter crawl.
Iceland’s relay medley women’s team placed 15th, competing alongside big nations like the USA and Australia.
In the relay, Eygló Ósk Gústafsdóttir, who is only 17 and considered to be Iceland’s brightest hope in swimming, set a new Icelandic record in 100-meter backstroke.
In other sports, Ragna Ingólfsdóttir became the first Icelandic female badminton player to win a game at the Olympics. She dropped out after losing a very exciting game against a strong opponent.
Ásgeir Sigurgeirsson was also considered successful at the Olympics, placing 14th in shooting and coming close to making the eight-person finals.
The Icelandic men’s team in handball made it to the eight-team finals after winning all four games of the preliminary round. However, Iceland dropped out after a very even game against Hungary that had to be extended twice.
Notably, Iceland was the only team to beat France at the Olympics, the gold medal winners.
Javelin thrower Ásdís Hjálmsdóttir bloomed at the games, qualifying for the final in her first throw and breaking her own Icelandic record. She ended in 11th place.
Runner Kári Steinn Karlsson was the last Icelander to compete at the London Olympics, placing 42nd in the men’s marathon, ranking 17th among European competitors.
There was no medal for Iceland this year, although the country boasted a bronze for pole vault in 2000 and silver in men’s handball in 2008. Perhaps another medal awaits an Icelandic athlete at the Olympics in Rio in 2016, the review’s author wonders.
However, Icelanders coaching athletes abroad were party to medals in London. Þórir Hergeirsson led the Norwegian women’s handball team to gold and Vésteinn Hafsteinsson was the coach of Estonian discus thrower Gerd Kanter, who won the bronze. Both coaches achieved gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Click here to read more about Iceland’s performance at the 2012 Olympics.