The Swedes had high expectations for the Olympic Saturday, but disappointed in practice after practice. Then Walter Wallberg struck with gold in shot put.
Thus, he saved Sweden from a failure Saturday when the Beijing Olympics started in earnest. Swedish disappointments were in line while Norway cheered for their first two golds, but as the last starter in the final in shot put, Wallberg struck with a huge race that was rewarded with Olympic gold.
The 21-year-old has never won a World Cup race and was not exactly among the biggest Swedish hopes ahead of Saturday’s practice, but he ended the day as a folk hero.
– I have been out for two years with two serious knee injuries. Olympic gold has been a goal for me since I was a child, and I have worked very hard for it, said Wallberg.
He scored 83.23 points and referred Canadian Mikaël Kingsbury and Japanese Ikuma Horishima to silver and bronze with a margin of 1.05 and 1.75 points respectively.
– I heard that Ikuma and Mikaël got very high scores, the best of the day. Then I knew I had to drive very fast and make some good jumps, Wallberg said.
Kingsbury was defending champion and has six World Cup titles and 71 World Cup victories, but the Swede forced him to settle for silver.
– I’m happy. I’m in my third Olympics and have won medals in all. Walter was the best today, and I welcome him to our little club of Olympic champions, said the Canadian.
Frida Karlsson and Ebba Andersson had gold ambitions in the women’s skiathlon. Like everyone else, they had no chance against Therese Johaug, but they also did not reach the battle for the other medals. Karlsson was number five and Andersson number ten.
“Failure” was the verdict in the Swedish media.
Mixed biathlon relay was a new Swedish downturn. While the Norwegian quartet defeated adversity along the way and secured the gold, it was a disappointing fourth place for the Swedes. Sebastian Samuelsson went out on the anchor leg in silver place, but did not hang with the competitors in the track and finished almost 40 seconds from medal place.
As if that was not enough, Sweden’s women’s national ice hockey team had to endure its second straight loss with 1-3 for the Czech Republic. Thus, the quarter-final place hangs in a thin thread.
A Czech team with ten players from the Swedish series was clearly the best and, like Japan, has a full pot after two games. Sweden must beat China and Denmark in their last two matches to take third place which provides advancement.
In the women’s ice hockey tournament, all five teams from group A reach the quarterfinals, but only the top three in group B, where the Swedes are.
Sweden had three men in the final in shot put for men, but two men ran out in the first final round, and it seemed to be another downturn. Wallberg made sure that this did not happen. He was best of all in both the second and final round.