Vienna, Austria: Norwegian Olympic rowing star, Olaf Tufte, has been awarded the annual European Lung Foundation award in recognition of his sporting success on the international stage, despite living with a lung condition.
Olaf received the award today (1 September 2012) at the annual European Respiratory Society Congress in Vienna. The award is bestowed upon people who have made a significant contribution to championing lung health.
Olaf developed asthma during years of hard work in bad environments on the family farm and hard training in all kinds of weather, but has just competed in his fifth Olympic Games in London – a feat achieved by few rowers. Olaf has also recently headed up the World Spirometry Day (WSD) campaign as a Lung Champion.
Organised by the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS), the WSD campaign aimed to raise awareness of the benefits of exercise for lung health and celebrate the achievements of individuals who have succeeded in a sporting activity, despite living with a lung condition.
A survey, conducted by the FIRS, revealed a lack of understanding about how to manage lung disease, with 70% of respondents believing that people with lung disease were unable to undertake even moderate exercise like swimming or going to the gym. However, in reality, physical activity can help to manage and improve the symptoms of lung disease such as breathlessness, even in the most severe cases.
Olaf accepted the award on behalf of the 30 Lung Champions whose achievements were showcased during the campaign.
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 enable him to carry out the work.
His achievements include two gold medals in the Beijing and Athens Olympics in the single sculls and one silver medal at the Sydney Olympics in the double sculls. He finished 9th in the Men’s Single Sculls race at London 2012, out of 33 initial competitors.
Chair of the European Lung Foundation, Monica Fletcher, said: “Olaf is a true champion and does not let his asthma limit or impact on his dedication to his goals. As the face of the World Spirometry Day campaign, we wanted to recognise Olaf’s hard work at achieving his ambitions and inspiring the next generation of athletes. Exercise is such an important part of managing asthma and we hope others with the condition will be motivated by Olaf’s attitude to reaching the peak of his sport.”
After receiving the award, Olaf said: “I’m delighted to have received the ELF award and I hope it can inspire others in my position to get involved in exercise or sport, at any level.
“I am determined not to let my asthma limit me or restrict my ambitions. Instead, I see it as one challenge among many that I need to master in order to come top in my sport. People with lung conditions can lead healthy, active lives – if they take steps to ensure their condition is identified early enough and treated well.”
Notes to editors:
About World Spirometry Day
World Spirometry Day aims to raise awareness of lung health and disease by promoting spirometry, a simple lung function test. Spirometry events are held around the world by medical professionals and are made available to anyone who wants to test their lungs. World Spirometry Day 2012 focused on exercise and the lungs and over 700 events were held in over 60 countries around the world.
Press Office at ERS Congress in Vienna (Saturday 1st September - Wednesday 5th September 2012):
David Sadler: 00-43 6767502294