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Sweden triumph in their traditional head-to-head duel with neighbours Finland

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  • Sweden triumph in their traditional head-to-head duel with neighbours Finland

Sweden took the honours in both the men’s and women’s matches in the Finnkampen, the famous annual dual international contest which is also a World Athletics Continental Tour Challenger event, with its neighbours Finland over the weekend, this year held in the similarly historic Helsinki Olympic Stadium.

The visitors won the men’s match 227.5 to 204.5 and the women’s with 225.5 to 205.5 to narrow the overall score in the men's encounter to 46-36 to Finland since the match started in 1925 while the women's overall score stands at 42-25 to Sweden after being first held in 1953.

The leading marks in the Finnish capital this weekend came in the throws with Sweden’s reigning Olympic champion Daniel Stahl winning the discus with 65.54m from fellow Swede Simon Pettersen, who was second with 63.76m.

For good measure, Stahl had a rare outing in the shot where he reached 18.16m behind another Swede, Jesper Arbinge, who won with a personal best of 19.42m.

Sweden also won the women’s shot put with 2021 European indoor silver medallist Fanny Roos a clear winner with 18.38m while recent European Athletics Championships finalist Ragnar Carlsson came out on top in the men’s hammer with 76.12m and their teammate Grete Ahlberg took maximum points in the women’s hammer with 69.30m.

 

However, almost inevitably given their tradition in the discipline, Finland did take a victory in the men’s javelin as Lassi Etelatalo was more than three metres better than anyone else with a winning throw of 82.30m.

Other notable marks included Sweden’s Munich 2022 European Athletics Championships 20km race walk silver medallist Perseus Karlstrom moving to the track and winning the 10,000m race walk with 39:28.54.

Another Swedish silver medallist from Munich, Thobias Montler, found 7.75m sufficient to win the long jump.

Andreas Almgren, in the wake of his impressive Swedish 5000m record and European-leading time at the Brussels Diamond League meeting on Tuesday dropped down distance and clocked 3:39.56 to win the 1500m.

Sweden’s Julia Henriksson improved her 200m personal best to 23.15 (-0.7) when victorious in the longer sprint on Sunday, a day after winning the 100m.

 

Finland’s Munich 2022 finalist Vivi Lehikoinen won the 400m hurdles in 56.17 but had to settle for second over one lap of the track without the barriers as she was just edged out by her teammate Mette Baas, who won in 52.94 to Lehikoinen’s 53.00. The pair then combined and ran the last two legs of the 4x400m, with Finland first across the line in 3:32.40.

Another Finnish 1-2 came in the women’s triple jump but there was a slight upset as Senni Salminen leapt 13.98m in the second round to beat Munich silver medallist Kristiina Makela, who could go no further than 13.72m although the latter passed her last three attempts due to a slight injury.

The match was the most significant competition to be held at Helsinki’s Olympic Stadium after it re-opened in August 2020 following a four-year closure.

During the renovations, European Athletics Partner Mondo installed a new track, including a nine-lane home straight as well as a two-lane 400m warm up track alongside a 60m indoor sprint area. The track was surfaced with Mondo’s Sportflex SX 720 product in a red colour.

The track material –  taking into account that even in the summer Helsinki weather can change quickly from one extreme to another, as spectators at the 2005 World Athletics Championships and 2012 European Athletics Championships can attest – is reknowned for its ability to retain its performance qualities in challenging and variable environmental conditions.

It was specifically chosen by the Helsinki Olympic Stadium management to accommodate the stadium’s multi-sport use that also includes football matches as well as concerts and other community events.

This year, the match was also recognised with the award of the World Athletics Heritage Plaque during a ceremony on Saturday night. “The World Athletics Heritage Plaque announced today celebrates the unique history of the annual two-day Finland v Sweden Match," said World Athletics President Sebastian Coe.

"Born in 1925, this dual-nation international is a successful historic anomaly in a circuit of largely invitational meetings. I am delighted that the match between these two great athletics nations continues to thrive, attracting large and enthusiastic crowds, and similar broadcast audiences,” added Coe in a citation.

World Athletics and European Athletics Council member Antti Pihlakoski, on behalf of Sebastian Coe, officially presented the World Athletics Heritage Plaque to the Finnish and Swedish athletics federations, respectively represented by Suomen Urheiluliitto Vice Presidents Riikka Pakarinen and Rami Urho and Svensk Friidrott Vice Presidents Caroline Gedin and Stephan Hammar.

The plaque will now be placed on permanent display at the nearby Eläintarha Sports Ground, which these days is the home track of the local club Helsingin Kisa-Veikot but where the first Finland v Sweden match was staged in 1925.




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