10 Swedish sports stars
Here are 10 sports stars from Sweden, from pole vaulter Armand Duplantis to swimmer Sarah Sjöström.
1. Armand Duplantis
Born in 1999 to an American father and a Swedish mother, pole vaulter Armand 'Mondo' Duplantis grew up in Lafayette, Louisiana, United States. Duplantis holds dual citizenship, and we’re thankful he chose to represent Sweden in athletics.
The sky could well be the only limit for this super talent, who dominates his sport like very few.
He made his first international mark at the 2018 European championships in Berlin, where he won the gold by clearing 6.05 metres. He was 18 at the time, which made him the youngest ever to clear six metres.
Since 2020, he holds the world record, which he has polished a couple of times.
But it was at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo – held in 2021 – that Duplantis truly began living up to the hype by clinching a major gold. Since then, he's also won the outdoor world championships twice, most recently in 2023 om Budapest.
At the 2023 Diamond League finals in Eugene, Oregon, Duplantis set his current world record of 6.23 metres.
2. Daniel Ståhl
His surname means ‘steel’ in Swedish – quite fitting for a discus thrower that is both Olympic and world champion.
When Daniel Ståhl triumphed at the 2019 world championships in Doha, he secured Sweden’s first world championship gold in athletics on the men’s side since 2003. Another two international golds have followed since.
At the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo – staged in 2021 – he arrived as the overwhelming favourite after finishing several seasons as the world number one. And he quickly delivered – with a winning throw already in the second round, 68.90 metres.
At the 2023 world championships in Budapest, he faced more adversity and only sealed the gold on his final attempt, with a throw of 71.46 metres.
With three Olympic/world golds, Ståhl has only one Swede above him in that count – the retired hepathlete Carolina Klüft.
3. Dejan Kulusevski
’Gimme, gimme, gimme a ginger from Sweden!’
What better way to honour a Swede than with a chant derived from an ABBA hit? Dejan Kulusevski joined Tottenham Hotspur in 2022, and the North London team’s fans were quick to take him to heart.
With his sharp left foot and dribbling skills, Kulusevski quickly delivered in the Premier League, scoring on his debut in a win over none other than Manchester City.
Capable both as a midfielder and striker, Kulusevski has said he prefers playing in a free role behind the strikers. Under Tottenham’s new coach Ange Postecoglou, Kulusevski has thrived in his role as a winger.
Born in 2000, Kulusevski is already a stalwart for the Swedish national team, and he was awarded the Swedish Golden Ball as the country's male soccer player of the year both in 2022 and 2023. And his best is probably yet to come.
4. Ebba Årsjö
Ebba Årsjö, born in Norrköping in 2001, rapidly established herself on the Para alpine skiing scene by winning two World Cup races in her debut season (2019–2020). She has since grown into something of a titan in her sport.
To date, Årsjö has three world championships golds to her name, the most recent one coming in the super-G at the 2023 World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Espot, Spain.
At the 2022 Paralympics in Beijing, she first raced to a downhill bronze before winning golds both in the super-combined and in slalom.
Årsjö was born with Klippel-Trénaunay syndrome, but opted to keep it a secret most of her childhood as she trained and competed with the junior elite in Sweden. At the age of 17, her right-leg strength seriously began affecting her skiing, and in 2019 she formally switched to Para sports.
5. Elias Pettersson
Vancouver Canucks forward Elias Pettersson has been touted as Sweden’s next big thing in ice hockey.
That’s a lot to live up to if you’re from a country with past greats such as Peter Forsberg, Mats Sundin and Nicklas Lidström. But this National Hockey League (NHL) season, Pettersson is seriously delivering – with a team that is seriously winning.
Beyond all his offensive qualities, Pettersson is by now often mentioned as a potential captain for Vancouver, thanks to his selfless work rate and defensive acumen, along with his drive and team spirit.
Born in 1998 in Sundsvall, Pettersson was awarded the Calder Memorial Trophy in 2019 as rookie of the year through his performances at Vancouver during the 2018–2019 season. In 2018, he helped Sweden to a World Championship gold.
Die-hard hockey fans have long known about Elias Pettersson. Time for the mainstream to follow!
6. Frida Karlsson
In 2023, Frida Karlsson made history as the winner of the 2022–2023 Tour de Ski season – the second Swedish woman to date, after Charlotte Kalla.
She clinched it in dramatic fashion, to say the least, as she collapsed after the final sprint race in Val di Fiemme, Italy. Having completed the gruelling hill climb up the Alpe Cermis, Karlsson needed medical help.
Back at the 2019 world championships in Seedorf, Karlsson was part of the Sweden team that clinched the gold in the 4X5 km relay. And at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, Karlsson and Sweden won the bronze in the same event.
Born in 1999, Karlsson boasts no individual championship golds at international level to date. But our bet is they will come.
7. Isabelle Haak
Sweden is hardly known in the world as a volleyball nation, but for aficionados of the sport, we have one unquestionable great – Isabelle Haak. Born in 1999, the 1.96-metre opposite already has the merits of a veteran.
She has amassed volleyball championship titles from the Italian and Turkish leagues – both regarded as top-tier – as well as the Champions League and the Club World Championships, and that’s just naming a fraction.
In 2022, at the Club World Championships in Antalya, she was named Most Valuable Player – for the second time in a row.
After three years at Istanbul volleyball club VakıfBank, Haak returned for her second spell in Italy in 2022 by joining team Imoco Volley Conegliano.
She was only 14 when she made her national team debut, and she finished in 8 place with Sweden at the 2023 Women's European Volleyball Championship.
8. Fridolina Rolfö
Fridolina Rolfö has been awarded the Diamond Ball (Diamantbollen) as Sweden’s best player twice , and she continues to triumph.
At the 2023 Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, Rolfö scored three goals to help Sweden to a third place. She now has two World Cup bronze medals and two Olympic silvers.
Earlier in 2023, she scored the 3–2 winner for Barcelona in their Women’s Champions League win over VfL Wolfsburg. Rolfö has played for Barcelona since 2021.
In the Sweden team, the hard-shooting and physically strong Rolfö is known as a striker, but in Barcelona she has come to feature quite often as a fullback, albeit with an offensive role.
Rolfö made her national team debut back in 2014, at the age of 20, in a friendly game versus England. After winning the Swedish league title in 2016 with Linköping FC, Rolfö embarked on her international club career.
9. Ludvig Åberg
He turned professional only in June 2023, but Ludvig Åberg is already the world’s most talked-about young golfer.
Fresh out of Texas Tech University, Åberg won his first professional tournament 75 days after joining the paid ranks. That’s when he eclipsed everyone at the Omega European Masters in Switzerland, on the European tour.
Later, at the Ryder Cup held in Rome, Åberg made history as the first player ever to feature in the team event without having contested a Major championship. And yes, he won the Cup with Team Europe.
In November 2023, he won his first PGA tournament (North America) by tying the PGA Tour’s 72-hole scoring record. The speed at which he has climbed the rankings has not been seen since a certain Tiger Woods.
This Swede is already famed for his calm on the course and touted by many as the next superstar of golf. The Daily Mail have called Åberg ‘the epitome of grace under pressure’.
Are we witnessing the next Ice Borg? Time will tell. But we do look forward to the four Majors in 2024.
10. Sarah Sjöström
She was only 14 when she won her first international gold medal, back in 2008 at the European Championships when she triumphed in the 100-metre butterfly. But swimmer Sarah Sjöström has proven more than a prodigy.
Her longcourse tally, counting both individuals and relays, now stands at 25 podiums – 14 of which are gold. The question is when the count will stop for Sjöström, born in 1993.
She has an Olympic gold, too. Back in 2016, she won the 100-metre butterfly event in Rio de Janeiro.
There is a Rocky Balboa element to Sjöström’s story. She may have won nearly everything there is to win in swimming, but as a child, in her first-ever competition, she failed miserably by starting with a belly splash. How’s that for rising from a fall?