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For many years she was a shining star in the middle distance and was often seen at the in front of the group at everything from the WC and Olympics and the Diamond League. With a mother from Sweden and a father from Nigeria, she was born in London, but grew up in Sweden. Stockholm Olympic Stadion was for several years her home field, where she also trained.
We brought Maria back to the stadium that has been a big part of her career, which she ended 23 years ago. It was a nice chat combined with training and shooting of our new collection Stockholm 1912, as well as parts of the new garments we at YMR Track Club are releasing this summer and autumn.
" When I enter, it is like traveling back to the time when life was simple and the body was strong. At the same time, memories of nervousness, focus, anxiety and lactic acid also slide to the surface and a tension in the body appears. I feel at home at Stockholm Olympic Stadium. Love her. Remember her with warmth, while the feeling of demand and slight anxiety lurks as soon as I step on her red track "
Image: Deca Text och Bild
Hard to answer, but it's not actually tied to a specific competition. Rather, my strongest memories are from all the countries and places I've been able to visit and all the people I've met. Being part of the "big international athletics family" is what warms my heart the most.
What was your main strength as a runner?
I think it was my ability to train very hard. (Although not daring to rest was also my Achilles' heel). In races, my greatest strength was that I was good at running in the front. I was rarely at the mercy of others and could dictate the races myself if I wanted to. That's why I was a perfect pace maker also.
What is your relationship with running today?
I jog sometimes when my knees allow it. "Your knees are gone," say the doctors. I try to find other ways to run endurance and vary the rowing machine, cross trainer and bike with kettlebell sessions and my "new" super workout: Running stairs. It is gentle on my knees at the same time as it is a high-intensity workout that provides both strength and flexibility.
Which of your PB:s are you most happy with?
It must be the Swedish indoor 800m record of 2:00.01 which I still hold and which has survived for 25 years...
When was your last performance?
I really do not know. But it was at the Stadium that I decided it was time to stop competing for good. It was the year of the 2000 Olympics and for a long time I had struggled with both motivation and shape. My shape had slowly started to come back and I had run a relay in Oslo which had felt really good. Time was short to qualify for the Sydney Olympics, but hope was alive. However, nothing was allowed to go wrong and there was no room for any interruptions. It was the beginning of June and I was at the stadium doing an interval workout. After a few races I strained my calf down the last corner. I immediately felt that this will take a few weeks to heal. I took off my shoes and decided then and there that it was over. With my hand on my heart, I was as relieved as I was disheartened. It was an easy decision to make. An easy way out.
Do you remember the first time you competed at the Stadium?
Well, it was some minor competition. The year I started running (as an 18-year-old), I remember walking past the Stadium and saying to myself that "one day I will compete in there". At the time it felt like a lofty goal. The very next summer I ran a smaller competition for my club Rånäs 4H at the Stadium. I don't remember what race it was, but I do remember thinking that I need to set a higher goal with my running.
What is your best memory from the Stadium?
Maybe it's when at Finnkampen-94 (Sweden vs Finland) when I had to jump in as a reserve in the 800m race half an hour after I had won the 3000m. The day before I had won the 1500m. When we took a Swedish triple victory in the 800 m, the cheering from the audience was amazing in a packed Stockholm Stadium.
What makes this such a powerful arena?
I think it's because she's so old. There is a kind of historical dignity about the old Olympic Stadium where it is located on the edge of the royal forest Lill-Jansskogen.
How did you feel when you entered the Stadium today?
It is always with mixed feelings when I enter the Stockholm Olympic Stadium. Partly, I feel calm because the environment and atmosphere here is so familiar. She (I see her as a "she") is part of my life. I have run, competed and trained a lot at the Stockholm Olympic Stadium and when I enter, it is like traveling back to the time when life was simple and the body was strong. At the same time, memories of nervousness, focus, anxiety and lactic acid also slide to the surface and a tension in the body appears. I feel at home at Stockholm Olympic Stadium. Love her. Remember her with warmth, while the feeling of demand and slight anxiety lurks as soon as I step on her red track.
How was it to shoot in our new collection?
It was fun! Beautiful and stylish clothes that gave me a breath of classical memories of athletics.