While Iceland’s success in the area of javelin throwing might not come as a big surprise—considering their Viking past of throwing sharp objects—their abilities in running away shouldn’t be underestimated. 22-year old runner Aníta Hinriksdóttir first gained national attention when she emerged out of the darkness of this tiny island to win the 400m, 800m and four times 400m relay races at the 2013 Games of the Small States of Europe.
Going for gold
Naturally, this was only a glimpse of Aníta’s true powers—that same year, she subsequently went on to win the 800 metres at the European Junior Championships and the World Youth Championships. This was a step up, and kind of a big deal, because 165 nations—including much larger nations like the US, Japan and Russia—competed in the latter competition. Her achievements are even more remarkable considering she’s the first person ever to win gold at both major championships.
Aníta repeated her 2013 success at the Games of the Small States in Europe in Reykjavík in 2015, when she won the 4 x 400m relay and the 1500m, and placed second in the 800m. Meanwhile, the international news media named Aníta the “Icelandic Mary Cain,” referring to an American middle-distance runner of the same age who was known for breaking records. More like Mary was the American Aníta, amirite?
Aníta also holds several Icelandic records, and won bronze at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in 2017, thus making her the first Icelander in 19 years to win a medal at an indoor European Championship.