Sweden is a country with a high interest in sport. It is estimated that about half the population is active in some sport. The most popular sports that Swedes play are handball, football, golf, athletics and gymnastics. Other common games played or competed in are tennis, ice hockey, basketball, table tennis and bandy.
Recreational sports tend to be walking, cycling, running, skiing, swimming, gymnastics, cycling, hiking, dancing, fishing and hunting. In this Scandinavian country, there are numerous companies that subsidise the employee’s gym memberships or sporting activities. This reflects how important physical activity is in Swedish culture.
Some of the extreme sports are kayaking or canoeing in turbulent rivers, diving in known parts of surrounding sea where there are ship wrecks, air ballooning and hiking high large mountains and glaciers. Other sports that are enjoyed are weight lifting, boxing, speed skating, electronic sports and golf.
Football and ice hockey are popular televised sports. There is a nationwide interest in soccer/football. Thomas Ravelli, a Swede, has been voted the second best goalkeeper in the world. Sweden has a number of soccer teams and players that even play for international top teams. The most successful team of the country of late has been IFK Göteborg, this Swedish team has won the UEFA Cup (United European Football Associations) twice. Note that football in Sweden is soccer. American football is different. Every year in the month of February, all schools close for a week’s sports holiday. This enables families to have time to travel further up north in Sweden to ski in the winter months.
Athletics is another area of sport, that is popular among Swedes as there are clubs focusing on this almost everywhere in the country. Clubs generally may accept members from as young at 10 years old and the youngsters are able to try various forms and to specialise in one or two specific events.
The following are some world records achieved by Swedish athletes:
1976 - 3000 m steeplechase 8.08.0 Anders Gärderud
1987 - High Jump 2.42 meters Patrik Sjöberg
1990 - Javelin 89.10 meters Partik Bodén
In the summer there is a ‘meet’ of well-trained athletes that compete in the Swedish Grand Prix. After several ‘meets’ with a point awarding system, the final winner with the highest points wins at the end of summer.
Riding sports is another physical activity famously associated with Sweden. Gothenburg Horse Show is considered to be one of the most prestigious Grand Prix horse jumping competitions in the world. The city of Gothenburg is the capital of riding sport in the country. Riding sports are a common sport with various riding schools based in the country side and outside cities. Beginners at the riding schools are generally taught riding on a horse and how to care for horses. The Riding Sports Association publishes two magazines and many riding schools are affiliated with this association.
Sweden has produced some highly international successful sports people.
The following are some well-known athletes in various sports:
•Tennis - Björn Borg, Mats Wilander and Stefan Edberg
•Football/Soccer - Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Gunnar Gren, Gunnar Nordahl and Nils Liedholm.
•Table tennis - Jan-Ove Waldner
•Athletics - Anders Gärderus and Patrik Sjöberg