The PAL effect a Faroe Islanders Quest for Swimming Glory

Forlag: Chequered Flag Publishing
Útgávuár: 2015
Prísur: 150.00
ISBN: 978-0-9932152-2-3
Rithøvundi: Rod Gilmour
Evni: Ævisøgur
Ikki innbundin
Støða: Útseld
Síðutal: 181

Um bókina
It was during the 2010 European Championships in Budapest that Pal’s name first came to light.

It was just another race and a quick glance down the start list for the 1500m men’s freestlye final saw the unusual sight of the Faroese flag.

Now, from a British perspective, the Faroes don’t rank too highly when it comes to sport. Pal’s exertions during that race changed all that.

The young endurance swimmer played it cool throughout and snatched a remarkable silver. I had to know more and wrote it up for the Telegraph.

Two years’ later and Pal was at the Olympics. There was one snag though: as the Faroes are not IOC-affiliated, he had to swim under the Danish flag. For a fiercely patriotic islander whose roots lie at home, this must have been a tough thing to contend with, but needs must.

A change of coach and the pressures of London subsequently hit Pal and he failed to qualify for the 1500m final.

Undeterred, I knew there was still a wonderful story here and in May 2013 I travelled to the Faroes where the islanders could not have been more welcoming.

I spent a morning with the Prime Minister, I sailed to Suduroy, the Faroes’ most southerly island where Pal hails from, I attended their National Championships, organised with passionate aplomb. It left me in no doubt that Pal’s rise to the world’s elite was that much more impressive.

After all, here was a swimmer who largely trained in a 25m pool for a 1500m event. Here was an athlete who had to contend with one weights table in a stiflingly hot boiler room beneath the school pool.

But together with his hard-working coach, Jon Bjarnasson, they roadmapped a path to the top.

Moreover, there’s even a 50m elite pool being built on Suduroy, across the fjord from the piddly school pool the island team have trained in.

Pal’s prominence left the Faroese footballers’ in the shade. No more did the Faroe Islanders’ have to say to themselves after another 5-0 qualifying drubbing ‘oh well, we did okay’.

‘The Pal effect’ phrase emerged into everyday society. In the media and in the classroom. Work hard and you can make a success in life.

European medals have been bagged for Pal. He has finished fourth in world championships. Can he go one better and become a world force and send a swimming outpost stir crazy?

Rod Gilmour, June 2013