The IAAF regrets to announce that Matti Salmenkylä, one of the world’s best known athletics writers, died after a long illness on 9 February 2006 in Helsinki.
Born in Helsinki on the 4th October 1930, Matti, a proud Finn, had an instinctive love for the sport of athletics, but also played a major role in promoting and defending journalists’ rights at international sports events.
In 1983, Matti was Press Chief for the Local Organising Committee at the first ever IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Helsinki, and he also acted as IAAF and AIPS Press Delegate at the 1987, 1995 and 1997 editions, as well as at many other prestigious sports events, and was Press Chief of the 1994 European Championships in Helsinki.
He held many important positions in international organisations, where he would consistently defend the rights of Media, and fought for better working conditions for all professional journalists, however humble.
A member of the IAAF Press Working Group from 1984 to 1986 inclusive, Matti was co-opted on to the Group at the 34th Congress of the IAAF held in Los Angeles at the time of the 1984 Olympics.
“Matti was a great character,” said IAAF General Secretary Istvan Gyulai. “He was a friend of sport and an excellent journalist. We will miss him.”
He was President of the Finnish Sports Journalists Association (1972–1981) following which term he was nominated as Honorary Member of the Finnish Sports Journalists Association. Honoured with the IOC Olympic Order, holder of the Medallion of the Press Freedom in Finland as well as honoured with the Golden Cross of Finnish Sport.
He worked in the Executive Committee of the International Sports Press Association (AIPS) for more than 30 years, and had to his credit been present in 31 AIPS Congresses. Elected in the Executive Committee in 1977 in Milano Marittima, was interim-Secretary in 1991 and for two terms 1993-1997 and 1997-2001 was General Secretary following which he was appointed as AIPS Honorary Life General Secretary.
Ever since the Olympic Games in Helsinki in 1952, when he had started his journalistic career working for Sanoma (Helsingin Sanomat, Ilta Sanomat and Viikkolehti magazine), he had missed only the 2004 edition in Athens and of course he bid farewell to this world of sport just as the XX Winter Olympic Games started in Torino. He was AIPS Delegate for the Olympic Games since 1984 in Sarajevo, and until 1986 was a Member of the IOC Press Commission sub-committee.
Besides being a delegate for innumerable editions of World Skiing Championships, since 1996 Matti was also Chairman of the AIPS Nordic Skiing Commission.