Stefan Edberg with Seoul silver medallist Tim Mayotte and tied bronze medallist Brad Gilbert during the medal ceremony
Stefan Edberg shared his memories about his Olympic experience in a special publication issued by the ITF for Rio 2016, collecting words from all the tennis players who were awarded a medal since tennis officially became part of the Games in Seoul in 1988.
It does feel good to be an Olympic medallist. At the time, I was quite disappointed in 1988 with the bronze medals. I was really looking for the gold medal. I gave it a shot in 1992, clay court wasn’t my best surface at the time and I got knocked out there. It wasn’t the end of the world.
Looking back, it was very nice. I remember five or ten years ago, my kids were in school and they could bring some medals to the school because it was an Olympic year. I took the medals to the school to show them and they could have a look at them and see what the real thing is. I told them about when I was playing in the Olympics. You could come out and show the young people some real Olympic medals which probably a lot of school kids hadn’t seen. It was a nice thing to tell a story about being part of the Olympics. You are part of history in the Olympics. It was the local school where I live now in Vaxjo.
I started in Los Angeles at the tennis demonstration event. Great experience in Los Angeles winning the gold medal but it was not official at the time.
In Seoul, I won singles and doubles bronze medals. Obviously, at the time, great to get a medal but I felt I wanted to go for the gold. I felt that I had a good chance to win either singles or doubles, but it didn’t quite turn out that way. Overall, I still got a medal there which is nice to have.
The opening ceremony in Barcelona was pretty special – I carried the flag for the nation, which is a big honour. What I remember from that one, you have to put your suit on, your tie on and you have got this special belt. You have to wait quite a long time before you get into the stadium and we ended up waiting somewhere in the tunnel and it was extremely hot. You can just imagine when it is 35 degrees, a lot of people and you have to stand there with the flag, suit and tie... I was sweating floods. We were probably there for an hour or something.
It was a relief getting out, carrying the flag and getting some air. I remember the other athletes thought I was going a little bit too quick with the flag because they wanted to stay as long as possible on the track.
My pace was probably a little bit too quick for their liking, for the people coming behind that wanted to wave and be on there as long as possible. It was incredibly hot. There was no sweat left when I walked out.
The big difference was being part of the Olympic movement, the Village, being able to see athletes from other sports and other countries. That was a neat experience to be part of the nation in the Olympics. Playing on the court, there was not that much difference. You are still two people out there, doing the job you are supposed to do to win.
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