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The Local’s guide to Sweden’s Olympic favourites

With the official opening of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games just days away, The Local offers readers a quick guide to some of Sweden’s medal hopefuls.

The Local's guide to Sweden's Olympic favourites

From badminton and tennis to football and wrestling, Sweden’s 132 Olympic athletes will compete in 19 separate events in the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. But despite fielding a team with Olympic-level athletes in a wide range of events, Sweden will likely only see a few of their own step onto the medal stand in Beijing.

TRACK AND FIELD

The consensus favourite to win a gold medal is high jumper Stefan Holm, the reigning Olympic champion. Holm won in Athens in 2004 with a jump of 2.36 metres. In 2005 he set a personal indoor record of 2.40 metres, and just three weeks ago he set a personal outdoor best of 2.37 at the Athens Grand Prix. Long considered one of the world’s top high jumpers, Holm appears to be at the top of his game as he heads to Beijing.

Did you know?

Holm has twice won the popular Swedish television quiz show På Spåret (On the rails).

Who: Stefan Holm

Event: Men’s High Jump

Date: Tuesday, August 19th

Finals: 1:10pm (Swedish time)

Medal hopes are still high, but somewhat diminished, for hurdler Susanna Kallur due to a nagging thigh injury suffered at the world indoor championships in Valencia in March. It was a tough break for Kallur, who a few weeks prior had set a new indoor world record of 7.68 seconds in the 60 metre hurdles at a competition in Germany. Still, Kallur insists she will be ready to sprint for gold in Beijing.

Did you know?

Kallur, and her twin sister Jenny, hold American citizenship on account of being born in New York. Their father, ice hockey legend Anders Kallur, was playing for the New York Rangers at the time.

Who: Susanna Kallur

Event: Women’s 100 metre hurdles

Date: Tuesday, August 19th

Finals: 4:25pm

Carolina Klüft left Athens in 2004 with a gold medal for her performance in the heptathlon, an event she has dominated for much of her career having won three consecutive world championships. Swedish sports fans assumed Klüft was on track to win another gold in Beijing until she unexpectedly announced in March of this year that she was quitting the heptathlon altogether. Instead, she’s competing in the triple jump and long jump, two events in which she is far from dominant. Analysts project her best chance for a medal is in the long jump.

Did you know?

Klüft’s husband Patrik was a competitive pole vaulter who took bronze in the event at the 2003 world championships. When the pair married, Patrik gave up his last name of Kristiansson and know goes by Patrik Klüft.

Who: Carolina Klüft

Event: Women’s long jump

Date: Friday, August 22nd

Time: 1:20pm

WRESTLING

Two Swedish wrestlers, one of each gender, are tipped as probable medal winners in the 2008 games.

On the men’s side, Ara Abrahamian is looking to avenge his controversial loss in the 2004 Olympic finals of the 84 kg Greco-Roman wrestling competition. At 33-years-old, Abrahamian’s third Olympics may be his last chance to win gold.

For the women, Ida-Theres Nerell is looking to improve upon her fourth place finish in Athens. Since then, she’s pocketed three European championships, as well as a silver at the 2007 world championships. She’s won her last three tournaments heading into Beijing and is widely expected to win a medal there.

Did you know?

Abrahamian is originally from Armenia, but fled to Sweden following the 1988 earthquake which killed 25,000 people.

Nerell said in a recent interview with the newspaper Metro that she enjoys fencing in her spare time and is a big fan of books by author Paulo Coelho.

Who: Ara Abrahamian

Event: Men’s Greco Roman wrestling, 84 kg

Date: Thursday, August 14th

Finals: 10:00am

Who: Ida-Theres Nerell

Event: Women’s Greco Roman wrestling, 55kg

Date: Saturday, August 16th

Finals: 11:35am

SWIMMING

Swimmer Stefan Nystrand is the current world record holder for the 100 metre freestyle in a ”short course” pool measuring 25 metres in length. But Olympic events are held in 50 metre pools, which mean fewer turns and longer stretches of swimming. Nystrand’s best Olympic finish was a fourth place showing in the 50 metre freestyle in Athens. In Beijing he’ll be competing in the 50 and 100 metre freestyle events, as well as a member of the 4×100 relay team, with the 50 metre considered his best chance for a medal.

Did you know?

One of Nystrand’s sponsors is the IQube business incubator, owned by Johan Staël von Holstein, and former home to The Local.

Who: Stefan Nystrand

Event: 50 metre men’s freestyle

Date: Saturday, August 16th

Finals: 4:35am

Stockholm-native Therese Alshammar will be competing in her fourth Olympics and is still searching for her first Olympic gold. She took home two silvers in Sydney in 2000 in the 50 and 100 metre freestyle, as well as a bronze as a member of the freestyle relay team. In Beijing she’ll again swim as a part of the relay team, but has decided to focus on the 50 metre freestyle in hopes of increasing her chances for a medal.

Did you know?

Alshammar has won more individual Swedish championships than any other swimmer.

Who: Therese Alshammar

Event: 50 metre women’s freestyle

Date: Sunday, August 17th

Finals: 4:00am

CHINA

Sweden’s Volvo Cars may merge with Chinese owner Geely

Sweden's Volvo Cars and its Chinese owner Geely announced on Monday that they are considering merging into a single group in order to share resources, but would preserve their separate brands.

Sweden's Volvo Cars may merge with Chinese owner Geely
File photo of a Volvo test-drive. Photo: Christine Olsson / TT

The merged firm “would have the scale, knowledge and resources to be a leader in the ongoing transformation of the automotive industry,” they said in a statement.

“The combination would preserve the distinct identity of each of the brands Volvo, Geely, Lynk & Co and Polestar,” they added.

Geely bought Volvo in 2010 from Ford which hadn't been able to turn around the Swedish automaker. But under the Chinese firm Volvo has rebounded and smashed its sales records.

Volvo sold more than 705,000 vehicles in 2019, besting the record it set in 2018 by 10 percent, and the automaker expects continued growth this year.

The statement said the firms would create a joint working group to prepare a proposal for the boards of both firms.

“A combined company would have access to the global capital market through Hong Kong and with the intention to subsequently list in Stockholm as well,” it added.

Volvo put off a share listing in 2018 due to tensions in global markets.

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