Stockholm, SwedenOne hundred years ago on 2425 August the Swedish National Championships were for the very first time staged at the Stockholm Olympic Stadium that had been built for the 1912 Games. Of course this extraordinary centenary had to be celebrated by staging the 2012 National Championships at the same venue.
Because unlike most old stadiums the "Stockholms Stadion" by being continuously modernized has remained very much the major athletics arena in Stockholm still hosting e.g. the DN Galan (Samsung Diamond League) every year. It can thus lay claim not just to being the arena that has seen most – by far – World records but also to being the oldest "living" Olympic Stadium in the world.
By a remarkable coincidence even the dates matched now as the 2012 Championships were held on 24-26 August! However, late August could be a little tricky weather-wise and while Saturday was absolutely picture-perfect (clear sky, 20-plus degrees, slight wind from the "right" direction for all events concerned) Friday suffered from a couple of heavy showers and Sunday was simply rainy.
However, the really persistent Sunday rain didn’t stop Javelin throwers Kim Amb and Gabriel Wallin (No 7 and No 8 at the Europeans in June) from waging an exciting battle which Amb finally won with a throw of 80.73m. Also the first two days the male throwers produced the top marks.
On Friday Leif Arrhenius became the 10th Swedish 20-metre Shot Putter (in the process erasing the Arrrhenius family record held at 19.92m for over 34 years by father Anders!) of all-time and on Saturday brother Niklas Arrhenius just barely held off – 62.32m vs 62.16m – rapidly improving youngster (to turn 20 on Monday) Daniel Ståhl in the discus.
European medalist and Olympic almost-medalist (missed by just 1 cm) Michel Tornéus had felt rather drained emotionally after London and therefore had decided to add some spice by also doing the Triple Jump where his PB 14.41m was set while he still was a 7.41m long jumper. So after easily winning his specialty with 7.80m on Friday he was triple jumping on Sunday. Using a run-up about half the normal length Tornéus seemed to get a better grip on the technique round by round to finally hit 15.90m in the last. A mark which turned out sufficient to get the gold!
In the women’s Triple Jump there was also an interesting novice in action: World Indoor silver medalist High Jumper Ebba Jungmark. She was now kept out of her specialty by an ankle injury and instead went for the Triple Jump which she last did in competition six years ago. Just like for Tornéus the multi-year "abstinence" was visible but her physique still brought a 95 cm improvement upon her PB (to 12.98m) and also a silver medal!
Tornéus was not the only double winner as European 400m champion Moa Hjelmer successfully stepped down to 100m/200m, as European firth placed 200m-runner Nil de Oliveira matched Hjelmer’s accomplishment on the male side while Olympic marathoner Isabellah Andersson dominated 5000m/10,000m.
World Junior champions – and Swedish senior record holders – Angelica Bengtsson (Pole Vault) and Sofi Flinck (Javelin Throw) got their first ever national senior titles. There will most likely be many more titles to follow for both of them in the future. However, despite their early starts (age 19 and age 17 respectively) it is highly questionable that they ever will get even close to the longest title streak ever.
Because that is now at 20 (yes, twenty!) – and counting! Because since Anna Söderberg first won in 1993 at age 20 she has monopolized the top position on the Discus victory stand! But change might be imminent as Söderberg this year lost her long-standing junior record to Heidi Schmidt (not even born when Söderberg took her first national title!) who finished a close 2nd now.
Söderberg was of course not the only athlete adding a new title to an already impressive resumé: Helena Engman got her ninth in the Shot Put , Mattias Jons his sixth in the Hammer, Niklas Arrhenius his firth in the Discus (and eighth overall), Johan Wissman his fourth in the 400m (and 13th overall), Alhaji Jeng his fourth in the Pole Vault and Mustafa Mohamed his second at 10,000m (and 11th overall on the track).
However, for 29-year-old living icon Carolina Klüft the final appearance at the Swedish Championships didn’t bring any success. Due to injury she couldn’t compete in the Long Jump, her chosen specialty after leaving the combined events five years ago. Instead Klüft now opted for an event she oddly enough never ever had tried in competition before, the 400m Hurdles.
The event would have suited her very well if in top condition but now not even her well-known competitive drive could make up for what she had lost in training due to the injuries. Klüft barely scraped by into the final on time (62.46) and although she did improve in the final (to 61.14) it was not enough to get a medal or to secure an individual spot on the national team for the classic match vs Finland to be held next weekend.