At first sight, the world of sports is overflowing with role models. Athletes in various fields whose warm and generous personalities, iron-dedication to training, impressive achievements, happiness and joy in victory and ability to suffer losses graciously inspire us to become better, faster and stronger athletes.
In earlier posts, we’ve written about fallen idols like Lance Armstrong and sadly the list of fakes got longer this summer with the exposures of among others Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay. Luckily, the list of role models is longer by far and I would like to tell you about a few of our own personal favourites, especially since some of them are not as well known as athletes in other, more media-savvy sports.
All of the following athletes are girls and there is very special reason for that. As you may have noticed, our blogposts haven’t been as regular this summer as they’ve been earlier this year. This is due to having had more pressing things on my mind, namely the birth of our lovely little baby girl Amanda. Lately I’ve found myself philosophizing about what kind of person she will turn out to be and what she will choose to become. That’s why I’ve decided to give her a little nudge by telling her about the following three cool women.
Emelie Forsberg (1987) from Sweden has already made a name for herself as an exceptionally talented trail runner at the international circuit, her breakthrough coming last year as she became the world champion in Skyrunning. At this year’s European Championship she found herself on the podium for each of the three races: gold at Dolomites Skyrace (22 km) and Trans d’Havet (80 km, 5500+) as well as a silver at the Vertical Kilometre in Canazei. She has dominated the world of trail running almost since her debut and is currently running for the Salomon Sweden Trail Running Team. Studying biology in Tromsø gives her ample opportunity to train in the spectacular mountains of northern Norway. If you’d like to get to know her a bit more you can visit one of her two blogs; Runner’s World or at blogspot. Reading about her personal musings and race reports conjures up an image of a confident and happy person who is brutally honest with her ups and downs, vividly describing both the physical and mental battles in her races, which is why Jakob & Jakob love her. The following quote, found on the International Skyrunning Federation’s website, is perhaps the most descriptive: “Emelie cruised to a comfortable finish – 10th overall – sliced 1h23’ off the course record [at the Ultra Trans d’Havet], and collected yet another gold medal for her country. Incredible achievements, crowned as usual with the winning smile that has become her trademark.”
We’ve written about the triathlete Lisa Nordén (1984) before and she still remains one of our all-time favourite role models. Last year, she won the silver medal in the London Olympics and as if this were not enough, she managed to become the ITU World Triathlon Champion later that summer when she – despite being knocked out by a nasty stomach flu – battled it out in the last race of the season in Auckland to win the world championship crown. This year she’s already racked up impressive victories in Fuerteventura, the half-Ironman in Syracuse and Boulder Peak. Just like Emelie, Lisa is an athlete who very apparently loves what she does and is always wearing a huge smile when interviewed by the press. One of my biggest regrets of last year was not walking up and congratulating her to her olympic silver medal when I accidentally stumbled upon her at Heathrow. It won’t happen again.
Last, but not least, we have the adventurer Annelie Pompe (1981) from Göteborg. In 2010 she set a new world record in variable weight freediving with a dive of 126 m and in 2011 she reached the summit of Mount Everest as the first Swedish woman to summit from the north side. The name of these two achievements has inspired the name of her hugely inspirational blog Deep Everest where she writes about her philosophies and adventures. Not settling for simply freediving and mountain climbing, she’s also a highly accomplished yoga instructor, writer and underwater photographer and one of her works of art currently adorns our living room wall. A couple of months ago, Annelie was set to break another world record in freediving as she reached 131 m only to succumb to a shallow water blackout just before reaching the surface. Jakob & Jakob can certainly relate from personal experience involving an anchor and a sandy sea bottom on Malta. Read more about Annelie’s world record attempt and blackout right here on her blog.
So what do all of these girls have in common? Their infectious smile, love of life and unfailing optimism in everything they do. I hope Amanda will be inspired by them and hopefully – in 10-15 years or so – join her old man for runs in the woods, mountains and hills. Maybe she’ll become an olympic champion, skyrunning world champion or climb the highest peaks of the world? Just saying…