Stina Ljunggren was an influential leader within the sphere of organised sporting associations during the second half of the twentieth century.
Stina Ljunggren was born in Landskrona in 1924. During her childhood she and her family moved to Stockholm, where her father Helge Haage was employed as a national school inspector in 1931. Her mother was named Hildegard Haage (née Löfqvist). The family included another four children. Stina Ljunggren’s interest in sport became evident from an early stage and she was an active member of Stockholms gymnastikförening (SGF, Stockholm gymnastics association). After gaining her school-leaving certificate at Bromma högre allmänna läroverk her interest in gymnastics led her to enrol at Gymnastiska Centralinstitutet (GCI, now Gymnastik- och idrottshögskolan GIH, school of sport and health sciences), where she qualified as physical education director in 1946. During this period Sweden became a leading country within the field of gymnastics both at an individual and at team level. Stina Ljunggren competed as a gymnast at the 1948 Olympic Games, where she placed fourth in the team competition.
Stina Ljunggren met her future husband, Olle Ljunggren, whilst studying and they married in 1949. They had two children, Stig and Anna. The couple worked together to a degree on a professional level. They were invited to help reform the Belgian physical education teacher-training course and they also worked in Belgium as physical education instructors during the 1949 to 1954 period. On their return to Sweden they both began long and unbroken careers at GCI/GIH. Stina Ljunggren spent a little over twenty years, 1955–1977, teaching gymnastics, which included rhythmic movement and dance. She held several responsible positions within a variety of organisations. From 1965 to 1977 she was a member of the Svenska gymnastikförbundet (SvGF, Swedish gymnastics association) board of directors. She was also a member of the international gymnastics association, Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique, where one of her roles included serving as international judge of artistic gymnastics. At the 1960 Rome Olympics she was charged with the role of over-all judge of gymnastics.
During the 1970s and 1980s Stina Ljunggren also enjoyed a career within the organised sports movement. She was historically the first woman elected onto the board of Sveriges olympiska kommitté (SOK, Swedish Olympic executive committee) in 1972 and remained involved until the end of the 1980s. Stina Ljunggren was elected as a member of the national confederation of sports: Svenska Riksidrottsförbundet (RF) in 1973, serving until 1989. From 1983 she held the post of deputy chair. Further, in 1979 Stina Ljunggren was the first Swedish woman to be elected onto the board of Sveriges Centralförening för Idrottens Främjande (SCIF, Swedish central association for the promotion of sports). In 1990 she was appointed as its deputy chair and in 1999 she became an honorary member.
Stina Ljunggren was the first woman to become the director of the world’s oldest physical education teaching establishment, namely GIH. From 1977 to 1989 she was the head of GIH, once again a pioneering role for a woman. One of her important goals was to ensure GIH’s academic reputation as well as to broaden its remit to include the sphere of pedagogy. GIH was at this time encompassed within Lärarhögskolan in Stockholm, but she did not consider this to be useful from GIH’s perspective. During her time as member of Riksidrottsstyrelsen Stina Ljunggren determinedly pursued the idea that Sweden needed an independent sporting college, and eventually her ideas gained reception at parliament. In 1992 GIH became Sweden’s first independent sports college. Today the academic subject of sport science enjoys an established position right up to the level of research at such institutions as GIH, Örebro university, and Gothenburg university, including the right to award doctoral degrees in sport science.
Stina Ljunggren was also a member of Idrottens forskningsråd (IFR, now Centrum för idrottsforskning, CIF, centre for sports research) which had grown out of the 1969 Idrott åt alla: betänkande enquiry. The enquiry clarified that sport was rarely adequately engaged with in research within various academic spheres.
During the latter part of Stina Ljunggren’s active life her interest came to focus on children with functional impairments and their options for engaging in sports. She was involved at both a pedagogic and organisational level through Svenska Handikappidrottsförbundet (Swedish parasport association).
Through her contributions as a sportsperson, a teacher, a leader and a director Stina Ljunggren has gained a spot in Swedish sporting history and in the history of GIH. In 1963 she was awarded the Ling medal, one of SvGF’s top awards, as well as SCIF’s prize, Prinsens plakett (the Prince’s plaque) in 1997.
Stina Ljunggren died in 2017, aged 92.