Vebjörn Rodal - Ambassador for the Scandinavian Countries
He is the only Ambassador of the European Championships in Munich, who already retired. 2000 after the Olympic Games in Sydney Vebjörn Rodal stopped running as an professional athlete. "The main reason was, that I wanted to spend more time with my wife and my three kids", the former 800 m runner, who won Gold at the Olympic Games 1996 in Atlanta tells.
"I was asked, if I would like to do the job as an ambassador for the Scandinavian Countries for the European Championships in Munich and I promote the Championships with a lot of press conferences and I take care, that Munich will represente at any important event in my homecountry and my neighbours", Vebjörn Rodal says.
No question, the man is an expert, who was running 1:42,58 min in the 800 m. This result he reached in Atlanta, in the fastes race in history of the Olympic Games.
Athletics is a popular sport in Norway
In Norway Athletics is the most popular sport, beside the different kinds of wintersports. He has a very good memory at the Olympic Stadium in Munich. Here he won the 800 m race at the European Cup 1997 and helped his team to catch the most points in this event. Today running and jogging for the 1,88 m tall man is one of many hobbies he has. "I run, I like Mountainbiking, I do weigth lifting, and I love hunting and fishing in the lakes and forests around Trondheim."
Vebjörn Rodal likes to think back at his career some years ago. "My gold medal in Atlanta of course was the most fascinated experience, but I had in general ten wonderfull years in the international athletic circuit". 1994 he managed his breakthrough. Beside his Olympic victory the 29 year old father of three kids, won 1994 the silver medal in Helsinki at the European Championships, 1995 followed the Bronce medal at the World Championships, and 1998 he was third at the Indoor European Championships. At the European Championships in Budapest in the same year the man from Trondheim couldn`t start because of an injury.
Vebjörn Rodal was born and growing up in Berkak, a small village 90 Kilometer north away from Trondheim in the central norwegian mountainous region. When he was 13, he was running 2:11 min in the 800 m, three years later he cracked the Two-Minutes-Mark very clearly in 1:55. At this time he admired Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett. "These two athletes were my absolut idols", the EM-Ambassador says.
Unusual methods of training
Rodals coach was the journalist Kjell Arve Husby, who helped him to run into the world class. A lot of people even today still talking about the
unusual methods of training, which the duo practised. Sometimes Rodal trained in a tube of a hydroelectric power plant which was put out of operation. This was the reason why he even in the hardest cold norwegian winters had good conditions. In contrast to a lot of his running colleagues, who regularly went in the southcountries to prepare for the season, the Olympic Champion stayed the most of the time in Norway. He was doing a lot of running around the hills, sledged with a bob down in the snow and ran the opposite way up again. Really a very special thing. But extremely successful as everybody could see in Atlanta !
The 800 m runner was also able to run very fast in the short distance races. He could run 46,56 sek in the 400 m, 22,00 sek in the 200 m and 11,30 sek in the 100 m. Only one dream he couldn`t fulfill when he was an athlete: Vebjörn Rodal wanted to be the one who run under 1:40 min in the 800 m. This nobody couldn`t manage until today all over the world. And it will be doubtful if somebody will be able to do that in the foreseeable future.
Sometimes it seems for Vebjörn Rodal, as nothing has changed in the sports since decades. "That is the fascinacion of athletics. Today every athlet still is running for the victory and everybody wants to be the fastest runner as it was the same ten years or even 50 years ago and it still will be the same in the future". And it will be like this in Munich of course. There the norwegian Ambassador will watch the 800 m with a special interst of course. And maybe he will regret a little bit, that he already retired two years ago.