NAT: Sports in Iceland

Sport in Iceland

Even though the people of Iceland are only 357.000 (January 2019) they have managed to succeed in different sport evens around the world, both in individuals and team sports. So endless sport events are held in Iceland and the possibility for tourist visiting Iceland to enjoy an event or two is good. Icelanders enjoy many types of sports like football (soccer), athletics, golf, basketball, tennis, volleyball, swimming, chess but the most popular sport in the country is team handball. There is even very old national sport in Iceland, called “glima” that has been with the nation from its settlement and often mention in the old Sagas.

Handball is often called the national sport and the national team has often been considered as one of the best in the world especially after taking the silver in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. There are many sports Halls in Iceland where handball is played such as the “Laugardalsholl” in Reykjavik.

Football stadium Reykjavik
The Icelandic football team reached its first major tournament, UEFA Euro 2016, becoming the smallest ever nation to qualify for a major tournament. Not only that, they surprised everyone and reached the quarterfinals winning teams like England. In 2017, they became the smallest nation by population to ever make it to the World Cup finals in 2018. When it comes to football, the biggest international name from Iceland is Eidur Gudjohnsen who played for teams like Chelsea FC from England’s Premier League as well as for FC Barcelona in La Liga.

Icelandic athletes have also participated in the Olympic Games since 1912. They missed the next four Summer Olympic Games and then returned in 1936 and have been participating ever since. As far as the Winter Games are concerned, they first joined in 1948 and have been participating ever since except in 1972. They are one of the earliest Olympic nations but only received their first medal in 1956 from Vilhjalmur Einarsson who took the silver for Men’s triple jump in Melbourne, Australia.
Iceland is also great at producing chess grandmasters that include Fridrik Olafsson, Margeir Petursson, Jon Loftur Arnason and Johann Hjartarson.