Mikko Latvala in Lapua (Mika Noronen) © Copyright
General News 9 June 2008 – Lapua, Finland

Latvala’s 5.63m Pole Vault highlights Lapua Elite Games

Lapua, FinlandPole Vaulter Mikko Latvala took the overall leader’s yellow shirt after the first competition of the Finnish Federations annual Elite Games series in Lapua on Sunday (8).

Latvala, 27, cleared 5.63 at his 3rd attempt - only 3 centimetres short of his Personal Best from 2001. Russian’s Alexandr Gripich took 2nd  with a 5.55m clearance.

Latvala took the European U23 Silver medal in Amsterdam in 2001, but has suffered from several injuries since then, including a torn chest muscle as a result of a weight lifting accident in South Africa in January 2007. Latvala has now the Entry Standard B (5.55) for the Beijing Olympic Games, but he is sure, he can reach the Standard A of 5.70 as well.

"The wind was very difficult today. In the 5.63 jump I had a good backwind and I felt running easily. Here you can see, what it means for an athlete to be able to train injury-free like me last winter," smiled Latvala.

The overall winner of the five Elite Games will be found according to the IAAF’s point table. Russian’s Yulia Kondakova’s time 12.91 in the women’s 100m Hurdles wast Sunday’s second best result despite being wind-aided (+2,2 m/s).

Elite competition number two will take place in Kuortane on 6 July. The series then continues in Joensuu on 16 July, Lapinlahti on 29 July and Lappeenranta on 3 August.

Ingberg reaches A Standard

Mikaela Ingberg became the first Finnish woman to set the Olympic Entry Standard A of 60.50m in the Javelin this season. She threw 61.59m in the 4th round and showed that she is ready to come back into international championships after a break last year.

Ingberg represented Finland at 13 major championships in a row, but did not qualify for the Osaka World Champs last year.

"In Beijing I’d like to make my best Olympics, which means better than the 7th place in 1996," said Ingberg.

Ingberg, World bronze medallist in 1995 and European bronze medallist in 1998 & 2002, had a long training camp in San Diego, USA in April/May. She said she is going to train quite hard until the Finnish Championships in Tampere 24 - 27 July.

"I think it is possible to make good results in the middle of an effective training session, too. It’s just a question about throwing technically well," she said.

Haatainen well over 80m again

In the Men’s Javelin Harri Haatainen beat Antti Ruuskanen 81.08m - 80.28m. Haatainen, a silver medallist at the World Junior Championships in 1994 and European U23 Champs in 1997, has had some very difficult years after a back surgery in 2003, but is in solid form again.

"The main thing today was to get as many good throws as possible today, not to beat Antti and the others. I just had to put myself together during the difficulties with a help of my nearest people, and now I am ready to go on the six next years," said Haatainen.

Ruuskanen was invited into the Oslo AF Golden League on Friday, but had to say "no thanks" due to ankle pain.

Estonia’s Märt Israel took the men’s Discus Throw with his 63.36m in the final round. Finland’s Frantz Kruger produced his best throw in the same round but lost by 76 cm.

Evilä 4cm better than Lax

World Championships bronze medallist in 2005, Tommi Evilä, jumped his first on the Finnish soil this year and won the men’s Long Jump with his 7.97m in the fifth round. Only some minutes earlier Petteri Lax, European U23 silver medallist had set 7.93m.

Lax won the Finnish title last year and is ready to challenge Evilä strongly again. Neither of them has jumped the Beijing Olympic Entry Standard B of 8.05m in 2007 or 2008, which makes the situation even more exciting. The two Finns left Russians Ruslan Gataullin in 3rd place with a jump of 7.74m.

"I felt better jump after jump. There are many things to improve still, but I am in a right way," said Evilä.

Men’s High Jump was nationally a good competition between Osku Torro and Oskari Frösen. Both cleared 2.24 with Torro taking the win.

A big surprise was seen in the women’s 200m, as Sari Keskitalo beat Johanna Manninen, who had not lost to a Finn in nine years. Keskitalo clocked 23.82 and Manninen 23.92.

Jamaica’s Ricardo Williams and Finland’s Joni Rautanen clocked both 10.31 in the Men’s 100m. Unfortunately the wind was illegal (+2.3 m/s) and Rautanen’s time can not be listed as Finland’s 3rd best ever – the same for his 10.29 in the heats (+2.2 m/s).

Other winners in Lapua: Men’s 400m Gordon Kennedy (IRL) 46.81; 110mH Chris Thomas (USA) 13.74; 800m Mikko Lahtio (FIN) 1:48.26; 3000m St Dereje Wakene (ETH) 8:41.98; Triple Jump Lyukman Adams (RUS) 16.12; Women’s 800m Anna Luchkina (RUS) 2:03.67; 400mH Ieva Zunda (LAT) 57.23; High Jump Hanna Grobler (FIN) 1.84m; and Triple Jump Elina Sorsa (FIN) 13.26m.

Antti-Pekka Sonninen for the IAAF