Two bronze medals in rowing for Norway
Two of three Norwegian teams brought home medals, but veteran Olaf Tufte wasn’t satisfied
In Rio, Olaf Tufte (40) competed in his fourth Olympic Games and took his 11th medal overall, while the bronze was the first medal for his partner Kjetil Borch (26).
After a difficult first 500 meters, the Norwegian rowers in the men’s double sculls had to do something, and Tufte claimed they had no choice.
“We had to ‘push the button,’” he said.
They sped up just 900 meters into the 2-kilometer race, even though it wasn’t meant to happen until they were 300 meters from the finish.
With 250 meters left, Tufte and Borch were gaining on the Sinković brothers of Croatia and Lithuanians Mindaugas Griškonis and Saulius Ritter, but the Norwegians weren’t able to beat them. The gold and silver went to Croatia and Lithuania, respectively.
Some profanities passed over Tufte’s lips when crossing the finish line, and when asked whether he was disappointed he answered:
“It’s vulgar not to be happy when you get on the podium at the Olympics, but I was a bit disappointed at the moment because we failed to evoke those at the top,” said Tufte when he met the journalists in the press zone after the heat, and he couldn’t hide his tears.
After receiving the medal, Tufte picked up his kids and took them to the podium. It’s against IOC rules for athletes to receive visits from others on the podium. A guard tried to stop them, but he didn’t care.
“I got a go on it from Gerhard Heiberg, and I guess he is higher in the hierarchy than the guard, so I didn’t care. My little girl was so small when I won in Beijing and was in Norway at the time. I wanted my kids to remember this one.”
Present at the stands were Tufte’s wife Aina Tufte and his parents. She told the press that because he always aims for the best, he was likely to be disappointed. She further mentioned that this is the reason why they have gotten this far.
Nils Jakob Hoff (31) said it himself when he said that he should have had more training in the single sculls, and it was quite obvious. He was forced to start training for single sculls this spring after he lost his seat in the double scull to Tufte.
During the semifinals, Hoff was already 10.5 seconds behind the first boat at 1000 meters. At 1500 meters, the distance was even greater at 23.2 seconds. In the end he came in last, more than 40 seconds after the winner Ondřej Synek from the Czech Republic. Synek went on to take the bronze in the finals, behind Damir Martin of Croatia in second and Mahé Drysdale of New Zealand in first.
Lightweight double sculls
Over the nine years they have been rowing together, Are Strandli (27) and Kristoffer Brun (28) have won 13 medals together in international competitions, and they were in it together once again in the men’s lightweight double sculls in Rio.
Norway led after 200 meters and after 500 meters were just a tenth of a second behind the leader France.
“I could tell we were on line and that it was very even. We thought we were going to take the gold medal at 1500 meters. The dream was gold, but we won a bronze,” said Brun.
Kristoffer Brun wasn’t able to remember much from the last 250 meters of the heat, and the final became a thriller. In the end, only 0.69 seconds separated the French team of Jérémie Azou and Pierre Houin in first, Gary and Paul O’Donovan of Ireland in second, and Norway in third.
The two bronzes in rowing were Norway’s first medals in the Rio Olympics.
Cathrine Løvaas (41) is a Norwegian freelancer from Bergen, Norway. She has a BA in History from Nord Universitet and writes about history, culture, sports, health, safety and environment, cats, and contract law. She runs a company that takes care of pets, and she loves weightlifting, photography, and literature. Meet her at www.norwegianfreelance.no and www.pusepass.no.
This article also appeared in the Aug. 26, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.