Matthildur Ylfa Þorsteinsdóttir and Helgi Sveinsson will represent Iceland in athletics in the 2012 London Paralympics which begin August 29. Matthildur, who is only 15, will be the first Icelandic woman to compete in athletics at the Paralympics.
Archive photo by Geir Ólafsson.
Neither of them has practiced athletics for much more than one year but nonetheless won medals at the European Championship this summer, Morgunblaðið reports.
“I used to practice swimming but tried athletics […] last year. I started practicing and was quick to achieve the minimum qualification to get to London,” Matthildur said. She competes in long jump and the 100 and 200 meters events among the mobility impaired.
“I just intend to break my Icelandic records, do my best. I rank fourth in the world in long jump but these are my first Paralympics so it will just be a test and maybe I can aim for medals next time,” she added.
Helgi, who is 33, will compete in javelin throwing, long jump and the 100 meter event on a prosthetic designed by Össur and will be the first Icelander to do so. He also works at the orthopedics company.
Helgi started his sporting career in handball and was considered very promising, practicing under the lead of former national team coach Guðmundur Þ. Guðmundsson in the top division with Reykjavík club Fram.
“I was diagnosed with cancer in ’98, lost my leg the following year and haven’t exercised much since then. I started going to the gym and swimming when I had grown a potbelly,” Helgi recalled. The experience from handball helps with the javelin throwing, he stated.
At the 2012 London Olympics, Guðmundur led the Icelandic national team in men’s handball for the last time.
The coach has taken the team further than any of his predecessors—winning the silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics—but has now moved on to other projects.
Aron Kristjánsson has now been hired as the team’s coach for the next three years. “I’m very satisfied with having gotten the offer again,” he said at a press conference yesterday, referring to the fact that he has been offered the position once before.
“I’ve always wanted to coach the national team,” Aron stated, explaining that last time, he had to decline the offer due to personal reasons. “You don’t say no twice.”
In football news, Icelandic player Grétar Rafn Steinsson signed a two-year contract with the Turkish club Kayserispor yesterday.
He thereby follows in the footsteps of two former Icelandic national team managers, Atli Eðvaldsson and Eyjólfur Sverrisson, both of whom used to play in Turkey.