In winning the Olympic gold medal in sailing at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, Magnus Liljedahl personified the against-all-odds fighting spirit that has earned him the nickname "The Viking". A dedicated athlete and sailor since childhood, he has competed at the top of his sport since he was a young man with many notable accomplishments on his sailing resume.
In 1997, he teamed up with Mark Reynolds with the hopes of making the Olympic team. Their first few victories in world-level regattas gave them a top ranking, and for the next two years they dominated the Star Boat class before capturing the US Olympic Trials in the spring of 2000 and the right to represent the United States at the Sydney Games.
Just ten months earlier, Liljedahl's wife of 22 years, Agneta, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. He took a hiatus from training for the next four months to become her "coach" in fighting what would eventually be a losing battle. Almost exactly one year prior to the Sydney games, Magnus lost his beloved Agneta.
Magnus credits his return to Olympic training for his ability to recover from this devastating blow. Over the next six months, Reynolds and Liljedahl continued to compete successfully, but without the dominance of prior months. Many thought they had peaked too soon, and Liljedahl's personal loss was weighing heavy. After five Olympic races of 11 total, they stood 12th in the standings by a significant margin, an almost impossible deficit to overcome in such a talented field of international champions.
Awards and Recognition
US Sailing certified Basic Keel Boat Instructor - 2017
12 Good Men Award - Ronald McDonald Foundation™ - 2016
Dockwalloper at Coral Reef Yacht Club - 2016
Gay S. Lynn Memorial Trophy - 2014
ISAF Sailor of the Year - World Sailing - 2000
Rolex™ Yachtsman of the Year - 2000