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RETIREMENT

High jumper Holm announces retirement

Swedish high jumper and former Olympic champion Stefan Holm announced his retirement from the sport on Saturday. Holm ended his 20-year 'love affair' with a second place at the World Athletics Final in Stuttgart.

High jumper Holm announces retirement

Having won a gold medal in Athens four years ago, the 32-year-old Swede leapt here for the last time in competition as new Olympic champion Andrey Silnov won with a clearance height of 2.35m.

“When I woke up this morning I felt old and stiff, but when I warmed up and started jumping I felt normal again,” said Holm after having leapt 2.33m in Stuttgart.

“I really wanted to win today, it was the second best competition this year. Today was the last competition of my career, but right now it just feels like the end of the season.

“Maybe I will finally realise in October or November that it is over and that will be an empty feeling. That is when the training normally starts again.

“Now I will have a normal life, but I don’t really know what a normal life is, because I started my high jumping career when I was 12 years old. High jumping is my love, my passion.”

Having played in goal for his local football team before switching to athletics, Holm broke onto the world stage in 2000 when he finished fourth at the Sydney Olympics with a leap of 2.32m.

At 1.81m, Holm was relatively short for a high jumper, but has been consistently successful since Sydney.

He was the undefeated world indoor champion from Lisbon in 2001 right through to winning his fourth straight world crown inside in Valencia earlier this year. The highlight of his career will undoubtedly be remembered as that dramatic gold medal in Athens in 2004.

At this year’s Beijing Olympics Holm missed out on a medal, coming fourth with a jump of 2.32m.

PENSIONS

Sweden to increase retirement age from next year

A proposal for changes to Sweden’s pensions system could see incremental increases to retirement age beginning next year.

Sweden to increase retirement age from next year
Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

The proposal for reform to state pensions has been agreed on by parties on both sides of the political aisle, reflecting the political agreement which provided for the new Swedish government.

Later retirement age has been justified by the claim that people in Sweden “live longer and healthier lives”, but the last twelve years of life remain characterised by illness and failing health, news agency TT writes.

According to the proposal, the minimum age at which a state pension may be drawn will increase next year from 61 to 62 years. The right to retain employment, the so-called LAS age, will also be increased, from 67 to 68 years.

“We see a problem with the fact that people who want to continue working are not able to. We will now give people the opportunity to do that,” said Mats Persson of the Liberal party, who was part of the parliamentary group behind the proposal.

In 2023, retirement ages will increase again, with the minimum state pension age changing to 63 and the LAS age to 69. The so-called guaranteed pension, which is paid to those who have had little or no pension-qualifying income during their working lives, will also see an increased age limit from 65 to 66 years.

2026 will see further extensions, to 64 years and 67 years for the regular and guaranteed pensions respectively.

In a press statement, the government wrote that longer and healthier lives made the reforms to retirement age possible. Average life expectancy in Sweden has been found to increase by 3.5 hours every day.

But longer life expectancy does not necessarily correspond to better health in senior years, according to research.

International studies led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) and the University of Washington recently found that Swedes have relatively high life expectancy – just under 82 years for both women and men – but that years with good health are considerably fewer, at just under 70 years.

Sweden fell outside of the top ten for countries with the most years of good health, the study found. Japan was the best-performing country, followed by Singapore, Andorra, Iceland and Cyprus.

The pensions proposal could therefore mean that retirement years will become increasingly unlikely to contain many years in which senior citizens can enjoy good health.

Persson told TT he disagreed with that conclusion.

“This agreement is based on the fact that we live longer as well as healthier lives. There is research to support that,” he said.

READ ALSO: How to manage your pension in Sweden – even if you're not planning to stay

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