Swiss celebrate most successful Olympics since 1952

Fireworks explode above the Olympic Stadium during the closing ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Sunday Keystone / Tibor Illyes

It’s unlucky for some, but the 13 medals won by Swiss athletes at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo – three of them gold – is the biggest haul since the 14 collected in Helsinki 69 years ago.

This content was published on August 8, 2021 - 16:12

After the 12 medals won in the first week, it was clear that Tokyo would be the most successful Summer Games for Swiss Olympic in recent memory, comfortably exceeding its target of seven medals – the number brought home from Rio in 2016.

Although only one more medal was added in the second week – and although Switzerland didn’t win anything in athletics – the mood in the Swiss camp was sky high.

The Swiss medallists

Gold: Belinda Bencic (tennis), Nina Christen (shooting), Jolanda Neff (mountain biking).

Silver: Belinda Bencic/Viktorija Golubic (tennis), Mathias Flückiger (mountain biking), Sina Frei (mountain biking), Marlen Reusser (road cycling).

Bronze: Nina Christen (shooting), Jérémy Desplanches (swimming), Nikita Ducarroz (BMX), Joana Heidrich/Anouk Vergé-Dépré (beach volleyball), Linda Indergand (mountain biking), Noè Ponti (swimming).

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“Bravo and thank you,” wrote Sports Minister Viola Amherd in an open letter to the Swiss athletes, praising their “fantastic performances” in the 2020 Games, which ended on Sunday. Everyone involved had fanned the Olympic flames for the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February and for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, she said.

Karateka Elena Quirici carries the Swiss flag at the closing ceremony Keystone / Laurent Gillieron

While Switzerland finished 24th in the medal tableExternal link (the United States and China were way out in front), it came eighth in the Financial Times’s alternative medal tableExternal link, which ranked countries by the difference to the tally they were expected to achieve, according to an economic model that took into account their economic, social and political characteristics. In other words, Swiss athletes excelled themselves.

There have only been five Summer Olympics at which Switzerland has won more medals: in Paris in 1924, when it won a record 25 medals (seven of them gold), in Amsterdam in 1928 (17), in Berlin in 1936 (19), in London in 1948 (23) and in Helsinki in 1952.

However, Swiss exploits in Finland can’t been compared with those in Tokyo, owing to the much smaller number of participating countries and events in 1952. Switzerland’s most successful Summer Games in recent years was in 2000, when it won nine medals in Sydney.

Women’s Games

Since Rio five years ago the number of Olympic champions has remained the same at three. However, while only men struck gold in Rio, only women struck gold in Tokyo: shooter Nina Christen, mountain biker Jolanda Neff and tennis player Belinda Bencic.

What’s more, Switzerland’s women mountain bikers achieved the first “Swiss podium” in 85 years.

Before Tokyo, women had won only four of 54 Swiss golds in the history of the Summer Games: sailor Hélène de Pourtales (1900), dressage rider Christine Stückelberger (1976) and the two triathletes Brigitte McMahon and Nicola Spirig.

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