Norway in the Olympics: Bryhn carries flag

Photo: Karl Filip Singdahlsen / NIF / courtesy of Norges Idrettsforbund Ole-Kristian Bryhn leads team Norway into the Olympics in Rio.

Photo: Karl Filip Singdahlsen / NIF / courtesy of Norges Idrettsforbund
Ole-Kristian Bryhn leads team Norway into the Olympics in Rio.

Molly Jones
The Norwegian American

One of the most significant honors an Olympian can experience is carrying their country’s flag during the Parade of Nations. This year, sport shooter Ole-Kristian Bryhn was surprised yet honored to be selected as Norway’s flag bearer for the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics at the Maracanã stadium on August 5.

“There has been some speculation about who it would be, and we have considered several candidates. There are several factors: It must be a fantastic athlete with good international results who has vast experience and can be a symbol of serious commitment in a sport. At the same time, it must work with the logistics, considering arrival and competitions,” explained Olympiatoppen’s elite sports manager Tore Øvrebø, who made the announcement on Aug. 3.

“Shooting is a very traditional sport. This year it is 110 years since we took the first gold for Norway in Olympic history,” he added, referencing Gudbrand Skatteboe’s gold medal on the 300-meter rifle in Athens in 1906. The last time Norway’s flag bearer was a shooter was Harald Stenvaag in Athens.

“When Tore Øvrebø asked if he could ask me a question, I wondered what I had done wrong now. I was shocked when he asked me if I would carry the Norwegian flag during the opening ceremony. It is an honor,” said the 27-year-old from Drammen who boasts 19 European and World Championship medals with five gold, 10 silver, and four bronze.

Rio marks the athlete’s second Olympic Games; Bryhn also competed at the 2012 London Olympics where he took 7th place in the 50m rifle 3 positions final. Due to his late competition schedule, however, he didn’t make it to London for the opening ceremony when canoe sprinter Mira Verås Larsen was Norway’s flag bearer. Therefore, the experience was completely new for him in Rio.

According to TV 2, Olympiatoppen’s first choice was golfer Suzann Pettersen, but she declined. Rower Olaf Tufte had also noted that he didn’t want to carry the flag, saying that his only concern in Rio was rowing fast.

Mountain biker Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå was also considered, but she did not compete until Aug. 20 and therefore wasn’t in Rio in time for the opening ceremony.

Three days after he proudly carried the flag into the stadium, Bryhn competed in his first event: the 10m air rifle. He scored 617.9 points, putting him in 40th place. Although the result wasn’t great, Bryhn was still pleased with himself that he stayed calm and had many good shots during what is considered to be his weakest event, and he looked forward to the 50m rifle prone on Aug. 12 and 50m rifle 3 positions on Aug. 14.

“Both on the prone and the 3 position, he has good chances. Ole-Kristian took a hit last year when he fell during training in the U.S., but he has worked hard after that. We think he is in good enough shape to fight for a place in the final. He has shown throughout many years that he has been Norway’s best shooter internationally,” said Norges Skytterforbund Sports Manager Tor Idar Aune to VG.

Bryhn continued to struggle in the 50m rifle prone, however, and came in at 43rd place with 616.7 points.

But in the 50m rifle 3 positions, the Norwegian easily made it to the final with an impressive third-place finish in the qualification. In the final, however, Bryhn finished last with 400.4 points.

“I was pretty nervous and did not stay calm enough. I have not had a good season, so it’s good that I did so well in the qualification. I finished the qualifying round well. That means a lot to me,” commented Bryhn to VG. “Now I see that I can compete with the world leaders. The Olympics mean the most.”

This article originally appeared in the Aug. 26, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.