Balck Victor Gustav

(25.04.1844 - 31.05.1928)


Swedish officer and sports leader, the first member of the International Olympic Committee from Sweden, "the father of Swedish sports".

Born in Karlskrona, Sweden, and in his youth was a sailor. In 1861, he became a cadet of the Royal Swedish Navy at the Swedish military school in Karlberg in Stockholm. After some time, he decides to become a cadet in the Swedish army and is actively engaged in fencing and gymnastics.

In 1866 he was appointed second lieutenant in the Nerke regiment, in 1875 he became a lieutenant in the same regiment, and then captain in 1884.

His military career is almost entirely devoted to gymnastics and sports. He was an assistant professor at Karlberg from 1868 to 1870, then a gymnastics teacher at the Swedish Cavalry School in Stromsholme in 1870-1872. In 1885 he became a teacher of military gymnastics and fencing at the School Institute of Gymnastics, was the chief professor of these subjects from 1887 to 1909 and the director of the institute from 1907 to 1909.

Immediately after completing the officer training, Balck enrolled in pedagogical, military, and medical courses at the Swedish Central Gymnastics Institute. After graduating in 1868, he worked as an associate professor at this institute and at Karlberg. The knowledge and skills gained at the Swedish Central Institute became the basis of his follow-up, both soldier and athlete.

In 1894, he was a major in the Swedish army, then a lieutenant colonel in 1900, and a colonel in 1904. In 1909 he became a reservist and in 1914 he received the honorary title of Major General.

As a young officer and gymnastics teacher, Balck concluded that sports competitions and voluntary gymnastics in Sweden, that is, outside the army and schools, are underdeveloped compared to many other countries. In an effort to change the situation, from the 1870s, he participated in the formation of some sports organizations and clubs, as well as in the creation of a number of sports magazines. Gradually, Balck becomes one of her outstanding figures in Swedish sports. His contribution to the international sports movement is great.

In 1894, he became one of the first members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and one of two vice-presidents of the Swedish Olympic Committee from 1913 until his death in 1928. He is also one of the leading organizers of the Northern European Games, held between 1901 and 1926.

Back in 1894, at the IOC, Balck proposed Stockholm as the venue for the Olympic Games. An official request to organize the Games took place in 1908 and, despite strong competition with Berlin, Stockholm was chosen to hold the 1912 Summer Olympics with Balck as a major member of the National Organizing Committee.

Balck was also the president of the International Speed Skating Union from 1894 to 1924. One of his merits is the construction of the “Balck Skate” skating rink.


Norra Begravningsplatsen Cemetery


In recognition of his international sports career, Balck was awarded the most distinguished Order of Saints Michael and George.

He died in Stockholm, buried in the cemetery of Norra Begravningsplatsen (Northern cemetery).

Mountains and glacier on the Land of Haakon VII , the island of Western Spitsbergen. Coordinates 79° 50'N    12° 15'E.


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