News25 May 2008

Ruuskanen surprises Pitkämäki in Kuortane Javelin meeting


Antti Ruuskanen in Kuortane (© SUL Julkaisut Oy/Juha Sorri)

Antti Ruuskanen became first Finn to beat World Javelin Throw Champion Tero Pitkämäki in four years.

Ruuskanen set his personal best of 87.33m in the final round at the "Keihään juhlaa" competition in Kuortane as Pitkämäki produced 86.89m.

It was Ruuskanen´s only throw over 80 metres, but he got another quite long one, which was unfortunately red-flagged, because he went over the line.

Pitkämäki had lost against a Finn in the match against Sweden in Gothenburg on 5 September 2004 when Esko Mikkola was the winner.

This summer has been predicted to be very hot in Finnish javelin throwing and the other top results in Kuortane show that so it will be, indeed: Tero Järvenpää 85.89m and Teemu Wirkkala 83.74m.

Pitkämäki opened with his best mark but then his technique gradually became worse. Järvenpää´s first one flew 83.61m, but Wirkkala passed his longest one in the third round. Järvenpää tried both fast and slow running technique and at the sixth attempt his speed worked almost perfectly. Järvenpää, eighth in the Osaka World Championships last year improved his previous PB from Doha in 2006 by 96 centimetres.

Wirkkala, previous World Youth and European junior champion, set the second best result in his life and was in a very solid form: four times over 81 metres.

Ruuskanen was a surprise, but not a very big one. He took the Junior European bronze medal in Tampere in 2003 behind Wirkkala and Järvenpää and the European U23 silver in 2005 in Erfurt.

After a knee operation his top form came out a bit too late in 2007. He threw as far as 87.88m in Savonlinna in September, but that result was disqualified due to an illegal landing area.

"Well, now it´s legal for sure! " said Ruuskanen, 24. “It´s a long way to the Beijing Olympics, anyway. We will have a very hard qualifying in Finland for the three seats on a plane. Reaching the team and then the Olympic final is my goal for this season."

Ruuskanen went into the third place on the world season list behind Australia´s Jarrod Bannister´s 89.02m and Norway´s Andreas Thorkildsen´s 87.59m. Pitkämäki is now 5th, Järvenpää 6th and Wirkkala 7th on the list.

Jaakkola´s surprise in the Women

The women´s competition in Kuortane was not as high class as the men´s, but some very promising results were produced.

Jelena Jaakkola, 19, set a new Finnish U20 and U23 record of 58.89m.

Jaakola took the lead in the Junior´s world season list and became a serious candidate for the medals at the World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland in July.

Last year Jaakola threw 55.93m and placed 4th at the European Juniors in Hengelo.

"Beijing is my dream and aim for this year, but this kind of opening result would just not drop into my head," laughed Jaakkola.

Kirsi Ahonen was second in 58.69m, then Mikaela Ingberg 58.43m and Taina Kolkkala, 58.20m.

Finnish record holder Paula Tarvainen gave birth to her first baby, a daughter, in April and it is unlikely that she’ll come back for the Olympic Games this year.

Antti-Pekka Sonninen for the IAAF