14 AUG 2011 General News Lappeenranta, Finland

Lehtola surprises with 83.77m in Lappeenranta and gains selection for Daegu in Finnish squad of 13

Sampo Lehtola improves to 83.77m in Lappeenranta to earn his Daegu team spot (Petri Krook)Sampo Lehtola improves to 83.77m in Lappeenranta to earn his Daegu team spot (Petri Krook) © Copyright

- The men’s Javelin Throw highlighted the finale of Vattenfall Elite Games in Lappeenranta, Finland on Saturday (13). The fight for three spots for Team Finland at the IAAF World Championships, Daegu, Korea (27 Aug to 4 Sep) went on until the very last throw of the competition. Newcomer Sampo Lehtola took the surprise victory with his last effort of 83.77m leaving other top Finns Antti Ruuskanen, Jarkko Koski-Vähälä and Tero Pitkämäki far behind.


"It's hard to be analytical at this point, it just happened," Lehtola said.


Pitkämäki, the 2007 World Champion, returned to action after two weeks of recovery from a hamstring injury, but had difficulties with his technique and struggled with the 80-metre barrier. Ruuskanen and Koski-Vähälä improved throw by throw and led the race in the last round with 81.11m and 80.95m, respectively. Lehtola, the last thrower of the competition, had already improved his PB to 79,14m in the second round, but that was not enough for the new Finnish javelin talent. He got everything right on the last throw and improved his PB by more than four metros. Before this season Lehtola’s career best was 77.19m. In July he improved to 78.50m and placed sixth in the European U23 Championships.


"My legs worked really well today and I could feel on the run-up that something big was happening," Lehtola said few minutes later.


With his throw Lehtola secured his selection to the Finnish team for the World Championships. The two other javelin throwers on the team are national champion Ari Mannio and Pitkämäki, who believes he is getting better after recent difficulties.


"Besides the hamstring problem I’ve had a lung infection and a flu, which forced me to withdraw from the national championships last weekend. Today I felt better, but not quite the best," Pitkämäki said, adding that he believes his shape will improve a lot before the World Championships.


The men’s Long Jump was among the most awaited events of the evening, but Tommi Evilä did not succeed in his chase for the World Championships qualification standard. Evilä’s winning jump was 8.01m, leaving the 2005 World bronze medallist disappointed and off the team. Behind Evilä, both Roni Ollikainen and Dane Morten Jensen jumped 7.91m.


Keskisalo the series jackpot winner


In the men’s 3000m Steeplechase 2006 European champion Jukka Keskisalo ran 8:29.38 and secured first place in Vattenfall Elite Games overall competition, claiming the 30,000 euro Jackpot.


In the 100m Jamaicans Lerone CLarke and Ainsley Waugh timed 10.06 and 10.11 with a mild +0.5 m/s tailwind. European junior 200m record holder Ramil Guliev finished third with 10.14.


The men’s Hammer Throw was dominated by Finland’s David Söderberg, who marked 76.41m with four other throws over 74 metres. In the men’s Discus Throw, Märt Israel threw 62.65m.


In the women’s events, Austrian Elisabeth Eberl took victory in the Javelin Throw with 60.06m, while the 1500m was won by Australian Zoe Buckman in 4:06.39. Finland's Sandra Eriksson timed 9:49.46 after a solo run in women’s 30000m Steeplechase to gain selection for Daegu.


Small Finnish team for Daegu


Following the competition Finland announced its team for the IAAF World Championships, the country's smallest ever squad in the Championship's history, which consists of just 13 athletes -click here


Mika Noronen for the IAAF


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