Sport & leisure in Sweden
Sweden is a nation of amateur athletes and sports enthusiasts. Swedes have a long history of international success in ice hockey, soccer, golf, skiing, athletics and tennis. In fact, Sweden has won the world championships eight times and the Olympics twice in ice hockey. It has also produced three of the best tennis players in history — Björn Borg (11 grand slam titles), Mats Wilander (7) and Stefan Edberg (6).
Soccer striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is Sweden’s unquestionably biggest sports star today. The technically gifted forward has been one of Europe’s top strikers for nearly a decade, reaping success with Ajax Amsterdam, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan and now Paris Saint-Germain.
Most people engage regularly in some sort of physical activity, such as team sports, working out at the gym, jogging or skiing, while football and ice hockey attract big TV audiences. Keeping fit and enjoying the great outdoors are very much part of Swedish culture. Many companies subsidize their employees’ sporting activities or gym memberships.
Swedish schools shut for a week’s “sports vacation” in February each year, when many families head north to ski. This widespread involvement in sports helps explain why Sweden, as a relatively small country, has had such success on the international sporting stage.
With four Stanley Cup victories to his name, Detroit Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidström already belongs to an exclusive circle of Swedish NHL players. Last year the defenseman turned 40, but the thirst to win is still there.
The Stockholm Marathon has set yet another record: 15,468 runners pounded the pavements of Stockholm in the 2010 race.
ABBA, Astrid Lindgren, Ingmar Bergman — the history of Swedish cultural exports is filled with success. And now a new contender is threatening even ABBA in its global reach: the gaming industry.