Norway has dominated the winter Olympics. Yet, the story behind how their athletes got there is fascinating. Is it rooted in childhood? You bet!
A recent article by Reuters, “Fun and Friendship Fuel Norway’s Gold Rush” hits the nail on the head. Tore Oevreboe and the Norwegians measure success in different terms.
“The main objective for us is to make the athletes have fun all the way through the Games,” he said as Norway won the men’s cross-country team sprint for a 13th gold at the 2022 Winter Games, one medal shy of the record jointly held with Canada and Germany.
The Norwegians put their winter sports success in recent years down to a three-pronged approach.
“One of them is to have a very high quality of daily training, which is the main thing to do to achieve development over time, and we are also very specific in the work with the competitions, preparations and execution,” he told Reuters.
“But there is a third area that we are very, very eager at working with – it’s to establish and develop good and safe relationships between the athletes themselves and also between the athletes and their coaches and the staff around.”
“We are very occupied with creating a good environment, a stable environment, a safe environment, an environment full of fun, so they can really enjoy life when they are doing sport at a high level,” Oevreboe added.
Creating those conditions for success begins long before Olympic champions get to the elite level.
Here is the really important part:
“This is part of the Norwegian sports model, all the way from the start from childhood – it should be physical activity based on fun, many types of activities, variety, different sports,” the 56-year-old former Olympic rower said.
“Lots of small competitions, but we do not track the results of the athletes.”
Stay with me on this, because all fun and no competition is NOT the answer. In the 80’s and 90’s where kids were forced into games at school where everybody wins, was a disaster. Competition is natural.
Oevreboe prefers an approach whereby youngsters can try as many sports as possible before specializing at a later age, rather than hand-picking talented children for specific events.
He believes the aim should be not just producing great champions but also good Norwegians at every level of society.
“Many of the kids have good opportunities to realize their potential in a variety of fields, and sport is one of them … and then they will develop their potential as humans and citizens,” he said.
Clearly, Norwegians encourage sports. They let the child find his/her way. They develop a bond among athletes. No wonder they dominate the Olympics.
As a teacher, I do the same thing. When a child is learning how to put on shoes, I cheer them on, step by step. I don’t do it for them. When a child is learning how to pump a swing, I shout out what to do with their legs, “Tuck them in, kick them out!” Other children are there, they see it all. It creates an athletic bond with peers.
I have to say, my thoughts immediately go to Finland. They have the same attitude and philosophy as Norway when it comes to school. I could go on! They’re among the top countries in education.
Encourage and Teach! Teach and Encourage! (Or something like that) Great recipe for success.
You get it, Steve!
Good points, Jennie!
This encouragement and independence is what leads to stronger adults!
Great example! The same applies to parents who always want to bail their kids out at the first hint of failure. Resiliency and perseverance are essential skills, and children feel prouder when they overcome a challenge by themselves.
Hear, hear! I know you ‘get it’, Pete.
As well as that ‘good attitude’ and educational progress, countries like Norway and Finland have another advantage in Winter Sports. Lots of snow and ice every winter. 🙂
Best wishes, Pete.
You beat me to it!
Yes, they do! They take advantage of what they have with positive determination. I can’t say the same for many other countries. Best to you, Pete.
It sounds as though Norway has a very healthy attitude towards sports
That seems to be the bottom line.
Attitude within the culture. Yep – and it doesn’t seem like us. Yes, it could be – but we would have to change a lot – a lot, a lot, a lot. Thanks, Jennie!
You’re so right, Frank!
And many laugh when Scandinavians are found to be the happiest people in the world.
This isn’t a new idea but on the world stage people can now see how it works. I wonder if they’ll pay attention? Teachers have always known…
See, the world stage lets everyone see that it works. I fear that few truly see, though. Thank you, Pam.
I have the same fear…
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Many thanks, Michael!
Thats it! Thanks for sharing the information, Jennie! xx Michael
My pleasure, Michael!
I am not surprised, the Scandinavian countries have a very progressive approach to life.
You are so right, the Scandinavian countries are outdoorsy people and we grow up with
seeing many sports as games for fun. 😊.
I wish that were the case here. I keep telling my husband I can’t wait until we’re finished with school sports. The environment is quite toxic at times.
That is wonderful, and just as it should be. Thank you, Miriam.
Yes, they do. I think there is much many other countries can learn from them.
A great recipe for success but it makes me wonder when other countries see the results but don’t follow suit…Why not? says she shaking her head…
I especially love that Finland doesn’t push its kids to read early. There is much that those frozen countries can teach us!
Yes! Finland is #1 in reading, and America is #26. Pretty sad.
what a great example of how to do things the right way. the U.S. could learn a lot from studying the Scandinavians…
My husband and I travelled to Norway when I was pregnant with Charlotte. We did a lot of sightseeing and hiking and it was one of the best vacations we’ve ever had/places we’ve ever travelled to. I learned a lot while in Norway.. the Norwegians are very active people and place a lot of importance in staying active and being in the outdoors. They take sports seriously (in that they make time in the week to engage in different sporting activities) and encourage it as part of the children’s daily routine… it also promotes comradery between peers! Win -Win!
Definitely win-win!! I’m glad you got to experience the country and people first hand.
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Thank you, Carol!
I love this approach!
I do, too!!
This is a great post, Jennie. I like this approach to sport, school and life.
I feel the same way. Thank you, Robbie.
A wonderful approach to education and to life in general and it is a great pity it is not adopted in other countries.. with an estimated 2 million 16 year old boys and girls being functionally illiterate when leaving school in the UK.. something is not working… thanks Jennie.. xx
Something is definitely not working! It’s sad when even the basics are not met in education. I like their approach.
Me too Jennie..xxx