Michel Torneus in Lapinlahti (Paula Noronen) © Copyright
General News Kuortane, Finland

Pitkämäki reaches season's best 84.90m, Torneus breaks Swedish Long Jump record in Kuortane

Finland's hopes for a Javelin medal at the London Olympic Games got remarkably higher as Tero Pitkämäki threw his season best mark of 84.90m at the Finnish Elite Games Series (4th of 5 meets) in Kuortane on Sunday (22).

Pitkämäki threw 82.50m in the second round but dropped to second place after Lassi Etelätalo reached a season's best of 84.06m in the final round. Pitkämäki succeded to launch his javelin very high on his six attempt and a good tailwind carried it to 84.90m.

Pitkämäki, the World champion in 2007 and Olympic bronze medallist in 2008, has been searching for his technique during this summer. At the Helsinki European Championships he placed only 11th, but after that his training has gone well, and now it seems that Pitkämäki will be a stronger candidate to win in London.

"I must improve my speed before the Olympic Games, but I believe that at least three hard throwing training sessions will put the pieces together. I have worked hard after Helsinki, and now the results are about to come out," he said.

He believes that in London at least 85 metres will be needed to take a medal.

"It must be so, because there are so many potential throwers who can do it, and besides, some surprisers will always appear."

Etelätalo, who placed fifth at the Diamond League competition in Monaco on Friday, had only one solid throw on Sunday. His second best mark was only 77.92m.

"My left foot reached the track early enough only once. That was my mistake in Monaco as well", said Etelätalo.

Ari Mannio, the European bronze medallist, threw 82.18m in the second round and Antti Ruuskanen, who will join Pitkämäki and Mannio in London, produced 81.63m in the final round. Behind the Finns, Kenya's Julius Yego set a new national record of 81.12m in the opening round and showed that he has learned a lot while staying and training for two months at the IAAF ATC in Kuortane.

"I must admit that this kind of a result was a surprise for me, too. I've thrown so far only a couple of times in training. It´s been a good time here in Finland and I enjoyed a lot this atmosphere today," said Yego, who will become the first-ever Kenyan Javelin thrower at an Olympic Games.

Torneus leaps Swedish record 8.22

Sweden´s Michel Torneus opened the men's Long Jump with a windy leap of 8.14m and finished it with a legal 8.22m - a new national record. Torneus, who took a bronze medal at the European Championships in Helsinki admitted that it was very important for him.

"I've been trying to break Mattias Sunneborn's NR of 8.21m from 1996 for a long time - since I was 19 years old, and now I did! It wasn't a perfect jump, but it gave me a lot of energy and self confidence for London."

"Nobody will be a big favourite above the others there, but I think Australia´s Mitchell Watt is very solid, and Panama's Irving Saladino is improving. I hope to qualify as easy as smoothly as possible - and then everything will be possible in the final," said Torneus.

Behind him Finland´s Indoor Champion Eero Haapala set his Personal Best of 7.89 in the 6th round.

Söderberg beats Karjalainen to book London spot

One of the most interesting events was the Men´s Hammer Throw. The name of the game was that either Olli-Pekka Karjalainen or David Söderberg, who both have the 'B' standard would punch their ticket to London, and Söderberg did it.

It was raining for only about five minutes during the competition and Söderberg took all the advantage of it at his second attempt. He set 75.21m, but Karjalainen replied with his season best of 75.16m in the next round. Neither of them improved, but Sweden´s Mattias Jons did 75.00m in the fifth round.

Karjalainen has been representing Finland at all the major international championships since 1998 European Champs in Budapest, but now it is his turn to stay home and watch the Olympic Games at TV.

"I'm very relieved, because this week was very hard for me. I wished for it started to rain, and when it did, it helped me, because the spinning speed is very important for my technique in the ring," said Söderberg.

"I will have two or three good throwing training sessions before London, but I must also cut the grass of my home yard, and it takes at least three hours to do it without a help of motor," he smiled.

The Women's Hammer was won by Russian's Anna Bulkgakova with a 69.13m mark in the fourth round. Finland's Merja Korpela who has the 'B' standard but was asked by the Finnish NOC to produce it again to be incldued in the olympic team had the required 69.00m in her sights, but she had to settle with 66.01m from the opening round which means she will not compete in London.

Finland's Jere Bergius cleared 5.60m in the Pole Vault and showed that he is ready for London. On the track the most anticipated event was the Men's 3000m, but Finland's 1500m London team member Niclas Sandells did not have his best day. Sandells placed third in 8:10.67 behind Kenya's Josephat Menjo (7:58.63) and Estonia's Tiidrek Nurme (8:07.40).

Kenya's Peril Nengampi took an early lead in the Women´s 3000m and won in 8:53.26 - well ahead of Finland's Olympic Steeplechase team member Sandra Eriksson who clocked 9:20.68.

The sprint events were won by Jamaicans - Rasheed Dwyer in the men's 200m in 20.81 and Carrie Russell in the women's 100m in 11.57. Katsiaryna Paplauskaja was the fastest in the Women´s 100m Hurdles in 13.35 while Russia's Anna Oreshkina won the 400m in 53.98.

Antti-Pekka Sonninen for the IAAF