Tero Järvenpää winning against Sweden (Hasse Sjogren) © Copyright
General News Helsinki, Finland

Large crowds in Helsinki see Finland and Sweden share honours in annual match

The host’s men’s team had a good second day in the match against Sweden in Helsinki, but the Swedish women’s squad were too strong for the home team.

The total number of tickets sold for the two day annual match was 60,357, with approximately 27,000 spectators on day one and 33,000 for day two.

Finland won the men’s match, 215 to 193pts, while Sweden took its eighth consecutive victory on the women’s side, 209.5 – 197.5pts.

There was nothing surprising in the men’s match score, but after years of total dominance Sweden took the women’s match by a remarkably narrower margin than had been predicted. Last year Sweden won by 30 points, and not very much more was hoped by the home crowd for the blue-white team this time, either. 

MEN – Lax and Pimiä succeed without Evilä
Robert Kronberg gave a good start to the second for Sweden by winning the 110m Hurdles in 13.57sec.

Both teams had their strong events, and one of the most critical ones was the Long Jump, in which Finland had to live without 2005 World Champs bronze medallist Tommi Evilä, whose hamstring was pulled during a training session earlier this week.

Petteri Lax, the Finnish champion in 2007 and 2008, who has a PB of 8.11m from this summer, jumped 7.88 for the winning result in the 2nd round, and Juho-Matti Pimiä found a whole new "hole in the air" to take second place with 7.86. Pimiä´s PB was 7.69 before this competition, but now he produced three better jumps - 7.86, 7.80 and 7.83 in one series. Already last year Pimiä had leapt 8.00m against Sweden, but unfortunately that was windy competition so did not stand as a PB.

After the Long Jump was concluded Finland had taken a 9 points margin over Sweden, and the Javelin almost secured the match victory for the home team.

The start was difficult for Tero-duo Pitkämäki - Järvenpää after their flights home from the Zurich Golden League on Friday night (29). Nevertheless, the third round turned the situation in the expected direction: Järvenpää 84.51 and Pitkämäki 84.00.

Then it was only asked, if the third string Finn Antti Ruuskanen could hold off Swede Magnus Arvidsson but when the latter produced 80.52m in the 4th round that was to be too good for Ruuskanen who did not improve from 78.98.

"The first place tastes good. I felt surprisingly good considering a very short recovering time after Zurich. This has been a good season for me, despite the nasty 4th place at the Beijing Olympic Games," said Järvenpää.

Sweden’s double in the 10,000m by Erik Sjöqvist and Henrik Skoog did not help the yellow-blues enough.

WOMEN - Klüft and Keskitalo triple winners

Sweden’s Carolina Klüft and Finland’s Sari Keskitalo became triple winners in the women’s match.

Klüft, who had won the Long Jump and the 4x100m Relay on Friday, set 13.83m in the Triple Jump. In addition she leapt twice 13.46 in a sunny but cold (+11 - 12 degrees) on Saturday evening The 100m number one Keskitalo ran the 200 metres in 23.43 seconds - only 0.02 seconds short of her PB. A couple of hours later Keskitalo ran a very strong third leg in the 4x400m Relay and gave the baton to anchor Karin Storbacka in a one metre lead, which Storbacka held.

"Thanks to the very loud spectators, I was able to run relaxed but fast. No, I am not planning the 400m for the future anywhere else than in the Relays", laughed Keskitalo.

A Finnish sweep came in the Hammer Throw, as Finnish champion and Olympian Merja Korpela set her season’s best of 68.25 and so did Lena Solvin in 64.59.

Anna Söderbeg took the first place for Sweden in the Discus with her first throw of 59.44. It was 15th Finnkampen-victory for Söderberg, 35.

Finland - Sweden matches often include interesting stories, and so did the women´s 5000m this time. Sweden’s 18-year-old Johanna Bohlin had her very first track race in which she placed 6th in 16:54.90. Bohlin got a place in the team because she ran a very respectable 2:59:00 in the Stockholm Marathon, 31 May. It’s easy to predict, that there will be many Finland-matches for her.

Antti-Pekka Sonninen for the IAAF

Click here for RESULTS