|Norwegian rower, Olaf Tufte will compete in his 5th Olympic Games at London 2012. Few rowers have competed in 5 Olympics, and even fewer have competed four times in the single sculls race during the Olympics. |
He has won two gold medals and one silver medal in Olympic competition so far, and is on target to contend for a fourth medal.
Olaf’s achievements put him at the pinnacle of the sport and place him in the small group of the sport’s most-admired athletes. He has reached the top of his game, despite having asthma.
When Olaf is not competing on the world stage, he works on his family’s grain and forestry farm, which involves daily, strenuous work out in the weather, crops, dirt and dust. These conditions could cause problems for a person with asthma, but Olaf is disciplined with managing his condition to carry out his work.
Olaf was the only Norwegian rower to compete at the 2008 Olympics. Not content with keeping national glory to himself, Olaf resolved to inspire the next generation of rowers in his country and bring them up to international standard, ready for London 2012. Olaf has invested his own time and resources to form a handpicked group of young heavyweight rowers called Team Tufte (www.teamtufte.com). Two of the team have now qualified for the London 2012 Olympics. In addition, two lightweight rowers Olaf also supports have qualified for London.
Olaf is a true champion; dedicated to his goals and an inspiration to others.
He does not let his asthma limit him or impact upon his ambitions. He sees his asthma as one challenge among many and something for him to learn from and master.
Some of Olaf’s achievements:
"I grew up on my family farm near the small town of Nykirke, Norway.
"As a young boy I played all kinds of sports. By the age of 12, moto-cross took most of my time, until I was 17 and got introduced to rowing. From then on rowing took my full attention.
"As a kid growing up on a farm, I worked from an early age - all kinds of work, and a lot of body work. This is one of the reasons that I got good in sports.
"Working on a farm means working in all kinds of strange conditions, and places; on the field; in the barn; in the forest. A lot of this work was in bad air conditions. When you work with grain, there is a lot of dust – in the field, in the barn, everywhere.
"When I was young, not too much attention was paid to protecting your lungs against dust and other threats. Without knowing my lungs suffered a lot in my younger life. And as I started to train hard, we never did care about cold conditions or dusty roads.
"NOW I DO…
"I did not have asthma or allergies when I was young. But because I trained hard for so many years, and pushed my lungs so hard over time, I developed oversensitive lungs, and what we call exercise-induced asthma. So when I compete now, my lungs will collapse when I do 100% unless I take medicine to prevent this. Also, I have now got grass allergy that I did not have as a kid.
"I won the Olympic Gold Medal in the single scull in 2004 at Athens without using any medicine. But when competing the following year, at the first World Cup Regatta, in England, my lungs collapsed. After that I went through numerous tests and learned about my asthma condition and my allergy.
|"I took me a long time to find out how to cope with this challenge. But with the best medical assistance and proper training I managed to get back on track. 2008 was a good year and I won my second Olympic Gold Medal, at Beijing.|
"In periods with a lot of pollen in the air, it is hard to train. And I get tired and sleepy. But because I know this, I can adapt my training to give myself every possible advantage.
"That’s how I keep it going. And in the worst periods, I have to understand that I will not be at my peak. Then I focus on what I need to do to be at my best when it is time…"
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WSD is an initiative organised by the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) in collaboration with the European Lung Foundation (ELF).