Susanna Kallur's dream 2006 season could not have been any more justly rewarded, as the 25-year-old 100m hurdler was voted recipient of the coveted Jerringpriset by the Swedish public last evening during the annual award show held at Globen in Stockholm.
Tre Kronor, our celebrated national hockey team, led much of the voting during the evening, but votes for Kallur poured in as the evening called to a close, with the European 100m hurdles Champion - who turns 26 next month, recording 28 percent of the total vote.
"Honestly speaking, I thought I would never be able to beat Tre Kronor," said Kallur to Radiosporten following the ceremony. "I am very, very surprised."
Tre Kronor, led by Peter Forsberg and Mats Sundin, became the first-ever team in global hockey history to win both the Olympic Games and the World Championships in the same year, and received celebratory parades and accolades fit for royalty upon their return from the Olympics.
First indicators during last night's festive evening backed what was thought of prior to the first votes being registered, namely that the Swedish folks had cherished their hockey stars - most of whom play in the NHL - in a hockey nation during hockey season.
However, as she did on the European Circuit during Golden League competition, Kallur surprised when it counted, with voters registering 127.947 to 122.060 for Tre Kronor.
Kallur was visibly affected by winning the prize.
"My legs are shaking," she told Raiosporten after receiving the award. "I can hardly stand."
"I received the Newcomer-of-the-Year-Award here, and never believed that I would stand here five years later and get a prize like this," she said on national television after receiving the prize from King Carl XVI Gustav in front of a crowd on its feet in a standing ovation.
"This feels bigger. This beats everything. Absolutely wonderful to take the prize that the Swedish people have voted for. I want to thank all my coaches through the years, and also all of my training mates who have made sport so fun."
Kallur and Carolina Klüft were selected among the 10 finalists vying for the coveted award, and will be on hand tomorrow evening at Globen in Stockholm in anticipation of being selected highest among their peers in sports such as alpine skiing, curling, ice hockey, cross country skiing and biathlon (blog link).
Tre Kronor won Team-of-the-Year honours.
Klüft finished ninth in Jerringpriset voting.
Jerringpriset, which had its origin in 1979, is the only sports distinction in Sweden which is solely voted on by the Swedish people rather than by a panel.
The annual prize is handed out for the year's best Swedish sports performance, preferably against an international backdrop and perspective.
Kallur is no stranger to success or awards, having picked up Big Ten Female Outdoor Freshman of the Year and the University of Illinois Female Newcomer of the Year awards in 2001.
Susanna Kallur is a twin sister to Jenny Kallur, with both twins born 1981-16-February in Falun, where they both still live today.
Susanna began competing in athletics at the age of 16, and was picked Newcomer-of-the-Year in 2001. She first broke through internationally for us here in Sweden when, at 19-years-old, she competed in the 2000 European Cup, replacing injured Ludmila Engquist. Kallur won the competition in 13,10 seconds, establishing a new Swedish Junior Record and a new Nordic Junior record in the process.
Prior to that, she came near to standing in the spotlight, finishing third at the 1998 World Junior Championships in Annecy, France - 0,02-seconds out of first. She was to win the gold medal in 2000, however, running 13,02 - the fastest legal time in the history of the championships' 11-year history, and take home a bronze in the 4x100m.
Susanna has made three IAAF World Championships semi-final races in the 100m hurdles, with her greatest accomplishments, however, the 2005 European Indoor gold medal in the 60m hurdles, and then winning the 2006 European Outdoor Championships here in Sweden on her home turf.
Kallur has a very approachable style, and is personable - two excellent traits above and beyond her merits (eight national indoor titles and seven outdoor national titles), which reached far with the public at large voting on whom they most appreciated during 2006.
Jerringpriset through the years (Source: TV4):
1979: Ingemar Stenmark 1980: Ingemar Stenmark 1981: Annichen Kringstad 1982: IFK Göteborg 1983: Mats Wilander 1984: Gunde Svan 1985: Gunde Svan 1986: Tomas Johansson 1987: Marie-Helene "Billan" Westin 1988: Tomas Gustafsson 1989: Jan Boklöv 1990: National handboll team, men 1991: Pernilla Wiberg 1992: Pernilla Wiberg 1993: Torgny Mogren 1994: National fotboll team, men 1995: Annika Sörenstam 1996: Ludmila Engquist 1997: Magdalena Forsberg 1998: Magdalena Forsberg 1999: Ludmila Engquist 2000: Magdalena Forsberg 2001: Magdalena Forsberg 2002: Carolina Klüft 2003: Annika Sörenstam 2004: Stefan Holm 2005: Tony Rickardsson 2006: Susanna Kallur