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  • The Finnish javelin selections will apparently be based almost entirely on the NCs. Pitkämäki is in; whichever two of Mannio, Ruuskanen and Etelätalo place highest at the NCs will accompany him. If someone other than those four throws 86 at the NCs... well, things would get ugly but I'm just dreaming.


    • Pitkämäki has scratched from the NCs. Apparently he has a minor groin injury; the reports say it shouldn't be a problem at the Euros, but we'll see.


      • The national championships (Kalevan kisat) were held this weekend, and the Finnish team for the Euros announced after them. As usual, I will analyse the Finnish team and its chances at the Euros; given that so many notes about the NCs will be part of that analysis, I won't post a separate recap of the NCs as that would be largely redundant, and the non-redundant parts would be of little international interest. I will only note that there were high hopes one of our male LJers would jump 795 and qualify for the Euros, but that didn't happen; 19-year-old TJ/LJer Kristian Pulli won with 781, ahead of Arttu Halmela and Tommi Evilä (who jumped 776 for a SB with a spare 10-15 cm on the board!) Those interested can find the full results here.

        As usual, the chances of most of the Finnish team are either slim or none. "Slim" mostly means a slim chance of making the final as medals are quite simply out of reach. Still, there are a couple legitimate medal contenders and some with outside possibilities, so it could be worse; in all likelihood, a few years from now it will be worse.

        Eetu Rantala - PB 10.30/SB 10.30 - chances: none
        Ville Myllymäki - 10.43/10.43 - chances: none

        Rantala has normally been the better of the two, but neither of them impressed at the NCs; the only way either of them makes the final is if half the field gets disqualified.

        Jonathan Åstrand - 20.50/20.92 - chances: none

        He hasn't been in his best form this year, and the fact he scratched from the NCs due to some or other niggle doesn't really increase my optimism. If he were in peak form I'd give him slim chances but now, nah.

        Jussi Kanervo - 13.88/13.88 - chances: none
        Arttu Hirvonen - 13.90/13.90 - chances: none

        Kanervo (now studying in the US) has become our top hurdler and was pretty close to his PB at the NCs, so I hope he can improve it at the Euros. He has a slim chance of making the semis, perhaps. Apart from one meeting Hirvonen has always clocked 14+ and was third behind Kanervo and Elmo Lakka at the NCs; I had completely forgotten that he had the EC standard. I really doubt he can clock another 13.9 in Zürich, and even if he did it wouldn't help much.

        Oskari Mörö - 50.33/50.33 - chances: slim
        Jussi Kanervo - 50.67/50.67 - chances: none

        They both were promising juniors a couple years ago, but Mörö was derailed by injuries and Kanervo has progressed quite slowly. But they're still young and developing, so all is not lost. Mörö improved his PB by half a second at the NCs, which was expected after a similar improvement to his flat-400 PB earlier this year; there might be a bit more in there, perhaps if all goes perfectly he could dip under 50. It's hard to tell where Kanervo is right now as he hasn't competed at this distance since the US collegiate season, but I'd say Mörö is the better of the two.

        Jukka Keskisalo - 8:10.67/8:29.89 - chances: slim
        Janne Ukonmaanaho - 8:27.08/8:33.09 - chances: slim

        Keskisalo's comeback has succeeded better than I thought (and certainly better than it appeared just a few weeks ago) and he still has a mean kick, but he isn't remotely in 8:10 shape and is surely hoping for ultra-slow heats and final. Keskisalo and Ukonmaanaho haven't raced each other this year so it's hard to say which of them is in better form; Ukonmaanaho doesn't have that kind of kick, but may still have a slim chance of making the final.

        Jussi Viita - 226/226 - chances: slim

        He's been our steady #2 jumper for quite a few years now, but nothing indicated he would make the Euros until he suddenly improved his PB from 224i/223 to 226 at the NCs. Good for him, and as HJ is the event for unexpected things happening I'm not writing him off completely when it comes to making the final, but he'll need to repeat his NC jump for that to happen.

        Aleksi Tammentie - 16.61/16.61 - chances: slim

        I have some hope here. He's in career-best shape and nearly made the final at the fake Euros in 2012, with a then-PB 16.32 (12th place was 16.43); the standard will likely be somewhat higher here, but if he can PB here as well (or at least get close) he might sneak in, and he jumped 16.55 at the NCs so his PB wasn't just a one-off.


        • mSP:
          Arttu Kangas - 19.74/19.74 - chances: slim

          There were some doubts as to whether he'd be selected; although he did have the standard, the meeting where he achieved it wasn't on the national alphabet's list of meets that would count. He was supposed to show good form (19.50+) at the NCs and didn't (though he did win, with 19.22). But he's young and needs the experience and the alphabet people like to inflate the team size, so in the end he was selected anyway.

          David Söderberg - 78.83/77.57 - chances: some
          Tuomas Seppänen - 75.31/75.22 - chances: slim

          Söderberg has been in very good form this year; saying he's in career-best shape is pushing it since his PB is from 2003, but he's close. He appears much better than he did in 2003 because there are less 80+ throwers both internationally and in Finland (no O-P Karjalainen) and he's actually placed third in two IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge meetings. Finally becoming our #1 seems to have inspired him and it will be a disappointment if he doesn't at least make the final; he has a decent chance of making the top 8, but a medal would need a miracle. Seppänen might also make the final if he shows up in his best form, though the odds are likely against it.

          Tero Pitkämäki - 91.53/86.63 - chances: good
          Antti Ruuskanen - 87.79/85.28 - chances: good
          Lassi Etelätalo - 84.98/84.98 - chances: some

          Pitkämäki has been arguably the world #1 this year, but he's something of a question mark since the Euros will be his first competition in more than a month; the groin issues won't help. Ruuskanen is a good big meet thrower and has now thrown 82+ in seven of his last eight competitions; on an EC formchart they should both be in the top 5 (along with Veselý, Röhler and Hofmann). Etelätalo narrowly edged out Mannio for 2nd at the NCs (80.24 vs 80.00); he still has injury woes, and I'm a bit concerned about the qualification since he often gets his best throws in the final three rounds. But if he does make the final and is still in one piece he might have some outside chances.

          Jarkko Kinnunen - 3:46:25/no SB - chances: slim
          Veli-Matti Partanen - 3:54:54/3:54:54 - chances: none

          There's been less hype about Kinnunen this year than normally; sadly, I'm afraid this is because he's not in brilliant shape and doesn't expect much from himself. Still, he did win the 20K at the NCs (Partanen was a distant 3rd, behind Aleksi Ojala); I suspect Kinnunen will finish somewhere between 10th and 20th, like he normally does in major meets, and Partanen quite some way behind him.

          Rantala, Myllymäki, Åstrand, Hannu Hämäläinen (10.41/10.55), Samuli Samuelsson (10.50/10.50) - chances: slim

          On paper it's a decent team by Finnish standards, and if they get their act together they could approach the Finnish NR of 39.29 (from EC '10) and maybe even make the final. But they haven't had a lot of relay races this year, and those they did have were underwhelming.

          Hanna-Maari Latvala - 11.32/11.32 - 23.24/22.98 - chances: slim

          She's had some good races this year and won silver in the 200 at the Universiade last year. I'm not sure she's quite in that shape now, but surely very close; the ECs will be a much tougher meet, though. It's hard to say which will be her better distance.

          Katri Mustola - 53.20/53.20 - chances: slim

          The out-of-nowhere team member. Until this year her PB was 58.71 and her best achievement was second at the national under-16s in 2007 (41.07/300 m), but she's improved in leaps and bounds, recording a PB in every meet (7 out of 7) and most recently chopping another 1.39 seconds off in the NC final. I'm giving her slim chances simply because I don't know when she'll stop.

          Nooralotta Neziri - 12.98/12.98 - chances: slim
          Ida Aidanpää - 13.08/13.08 - chances: none
          Matilda Bogdanoff - 13.12/13.12 - chances: none

          By Finnish standards this event's been on fire this year; as I noted in a previous post, these times are #1, #2 and #3 on our all-time list. Neziri is easily the most consistent of the three, and dominated the NCs; she might have some chances of making the final. The other two would likely be happy with a place in the semis.

          Sandra Eriksson - 9:24.70/9:24.70 - chances: good
          Johanna Lehtinen - 9:40.28/9:48.50 - chances: slim

          Eriksson has been in by far her best shape ever, and since she's #2 on the European list she has to count as a serious medal contender. She didn't look brilliant in the NC steeple but she did look good in the 1500, which she also won (and she did win the NC steeple easily, so there was no need to press it). As I noted, though, she doesn't feel comfortable in kicking before the last barrier has been cleared, which could be a problem. Unfortunately Johanna "walking injury" Lehtinen crashed into a barrier at the NCs and hurt her leg (and the reason why, apparently, was that her leg cramped first and caused the crash...) She should be able to recover for the Euros, but we'll see.

          Minna Nikkanen - 460i/451 - chances: slim

          The 451 she cleared at the NCs is a new outdoor NR, and she looked really good there... not 460 good, or even 456 good (that was the next height she attempted), but at least one of her attempts at 456 might also have cleared 451. The vaulting conditions at the NCs were excellent, but I'd say she has a decent chance of making the EC final as 435 was enough in both 2010 and 2012. Beyond that, though, we're very much in "slim" territory.

          Sanna Kämäräinen - 60.67i/59.38 - chances: slim
          Katri Hirvonen - 57.44/57.44 - chances: none

          Kämäräinen hasn't quite retained her indoor form but she's still been in career-best outdoor shape and might make the final. The selection of Hirvonen was even more doubtful than that of Kangas, as she had also only reached the standard in a meet not on the alphabet's list and had shown even less good form elsewhere; what's more, she isn't the young talent Kangas is. But the alphabet likes to select people; it gives the impression we have a lot of international-level athletes and accordingly they must have done something right. If she clears the qualification I'll be very surprised.

          Merja Korpela - 69.56/68.44 - chances: slim

          It usually takes around 67 to make the final, and she's capable of that, but at the NCs she seemed to have problems and only won narrowly with 65.67 (one of her worst results this year), so I'm far from confident. If she does make the final she'll surely go out after round 3; she's fairly consistent but doesn't have a lot of upside.

          Oona Sormunen - 60.56/58.43 - chances: none

          After last year I had some hope she might be getting places, but that has not been the case; she's clearly been the Finnish #1, as if that were somehow a good thing.

          Latvala, Neziri, Milja Thureson (11.74/11.74), Jasmin Showlah (11.75/11.80), Minna Laukka (11.76/11.87) - chances: none

          Nuff said. Though they aren't as bad as our 4x4...

          Mustola, Sanna Aaltonen (54.09/54.09), Ella Räsänen (52.37i/54.40), Anniina Laitinen (55.05/55.05), Hilla Uusimäki (55.29/55.29) - chances: none

          By modern Finnish standards, this is actually a brilliant line-up. By international standards, well...
          Last edited by LopenUupunut; 08-04-2014, 02:16 PM.


          • LopenUupunut -- Appreciate the detailed analysis of Finland athletics this season! I hope that some of your throwers will come through. On the track, I wonder if you could provide any more comments/discussion of the steeplers -- Keskisalo & Eriksson. I have looked at their marks on Tilastopaja & I have looked at the 2014 Euro lists. I know that Keskisalo's best marks -- pretty much across the board -- are from 2009, but I'm curious to know more about his comeback. I hope he can make the final, but there are many ahead of him on the Euro list. Eriksson looks like a real medal contender -- she is having her best season this year, steeple and flat. Could you say more about her, too, if you are so inclined? Thanks.


            • Thanks for the compliments.

              Keskisalo officially announced his retirement after the Olympic final in 2012, a result of injuries and having already achieved plenty. He kept training, but at lower intensity than before. In May 2013 he won a minor half-marathon in 1:11:27, but at that point he was still officially in retirement. In June and July he ran a couple of races for his club, Joensuun Kataja, including the 4x1500 at the Finnish relay championships (they placed third). I think that had always been part of his plan (keep helping his club even when retired) but those races apparently got him hooked to competing again and he showed up for the NC steeple, which he won in 8:53. I think realizing he was still the Finnish #1 made him decide to come back - if you're the best and like competing, why not get the accolades and $$$ that go with it? He ran a couple more steeple races that year, including at the FINvSWE dual meet (he won), but it was only in December that he officially said he was returning (without a coach). There's a nice article on his decision to return here, though it's in Finnish.

              This year he's again been training at full intensity, but an injury sidelined him for more than a month in May-June and when he opened his outdoor season in early July his form looked no better than when he was still retired. He's made a lot of progress in the weeks since then, though; he won the NC 1500m with a 53-second last lap, so it seems his speed is still there. He's always had a good kick but the WC/OG finals have been just too fast for him; when he won at the Euros it was a relatively slow race (8:24). Unfortunately, this year even the Euros will likely be too fast for him - I doubt we'll see another 8:24 race, and even if we did he's no longer in 8:1x shape, which he'd have to be to still have his kick left at the end. I'll be quite happy if he makes the final, a slow heat would help.

              Eriksson was a talented junior and placed 5th at the World Juniors in 2008, setting an NJR; she's been followed by other talents like Oona Kettunen (who took down her NJR), Camilla Richardsson and Minttu Hukka, but it remains to be seen whether any of them can make the transition to the senior ranks as nicely as Eriksson. Unlike Kettunen and Johanna Lehtinen (who was by far the biggest talent of the previous generation) she hasn't had serious injury woes; minor problems now and then, but nothing that would have disrupted his training or competitive seasons too badly. That probably explains why she, unlike the other two, has been able to improve quite steadily.

              She now lives in Sweden much of the time and has coaches in both Sweden and Finland. She's now indeed in career-best flat form, but much of the improvement to her steeple times actually has to do with improved barrier-clearing technique, which until this year was a horror-movie thing that involved plenty of stutter-stepping. I think her Swedish coach deserves the credit for that changing. Like Keskisalo, she has a good kick, but probably because of her dubious technique she's normally only unleashed it with about 40 meters to go; she hasn't felt confident in kicking with barriers still left to clear. It remains to be seen whether she can change that now that her technique is better; doing so is a must if she wishes to challenge for gold at the Euros. That she can have a longer kick has been shown in flat races, most recently the 1500 at the NCs where she outkicked Kristiina Mäki (who, unfortunately, represents the Czech Republic internationally), but we haven't seen it in the steeplechase yet.

              (I'm not sure who her Swedish coach is. Her Finnish coach is Guy Storbacka, the father of one of our top w800/1500 runners.)


              • Thank you!


                • Some positive news for a change

                  Nooralotta Neziri broke her own w60H NR by 0.01 in Düsseldorf, placing third in 8.06 (after running 8.11 in the heats). It was her first hurdles competition this winter, and she usually takes a few races to get in shape, so things are looking good.

                  Oskari Mörö (who broke the 400h NR at the Euros last year) ran 300m in 33.63 in a minor (outdoor) meet in South Africa, a new apparently unofficial FAT NR; Markku Kukkoaho (still also the holder of our 400m NR at 45.49) has a hand-timed 33.2 from 1976.


                  • How about asking gh to change the topic, remove the WJC thing, cause i just read it and thought "What WJC is he talking about?" Eventually this is going to get really old.


                    • Don't worry unduly... another year and a half and the title will probably be topical again

                      Some more promising results:

                      Kristiina Mäkelä moved to #3 on the Finnish wTJ indoor all-time list with 14.04 (previous best 13.70; previous indoor best 13.39); due to injuries she hadn't improved much since winning Euro Junior silver in 2011 (13.67/-0.8), and we're brilliant at losing talented girls anyway, so it's nice to see her take another step up.

                      Wilma Murto (born June 1998) vaulted 431 today for a new NYR and indoor NJR (her previous PB was 415 from earlier this winter, which was already a national youth record).

                      Lauri Tuomilehto (born January 1999) has broken the national U17 60m best in all three of his races this year, running 6.91, 6.87 and 6.83 (the NYR is 6.78 by Visa Hongisto; Tuomilehto is 2nd on the U18 list). The previous U17 best was 6.99 by Petri Keskitalo (5th in decathlon in Tokyo '91).


                      • Originally posted by LopenUupunut View Post
                        Nooralotta Neziri broke her own w60H NR by 0.01 in Düsseldorf, placing third in 8.06 (after running 8.11 in the heats). It was her first hurdles competition this winter, and she usually takes a few races to get in shape, so things are looking good.
                        Improved to 7.99 in her next race Hopefully she'll stay healthy...

                        Steepler Oona Kettunen placed 8th in the 15 km classic at the national XC skiing championships. Although she was nowhere near the medals, she beat all skiers younger than herself (she'll turn 21 next week), as well as everyone not skiing for the national team. The gap between our national team and everybody else is huge in women's XC skiing (less so on the men's side), but it's still a very encouraging result.


                        • Originally posted by LopenUupunut View Post
                          Wilma Murto (born June 1998) vaulted 431 today for a new NYR and indoor NJR (her previous PB was 415 from earlier this winter, which was already a national youth record).
                          Just saw on Tilastopaja that this record was broken by another 16 year old girl the next day? Elina Lampela (also born 98) cleared 4.32 the very next day, i find this fascinating, out of nowhere Finland has two very good U18 PV talents.


                          • Yup, it's nice, but I'm not getting my hopes up just yet... if wasting talented girls were an Olympic sport we wouldn't have to worry about not getting medals.

                            Luckily all our male vaulters are so hopeless that women's PV will be the more attractive event to local meet organizers; that may help them find enough meets and visibility to inspire them for a while.


                            • Originally posted by LopenUupunut View Post
                              Kristiina Mäkelä moved to #3 on the Finnish wTJ indoor all-time list with 14.04 (previous best 13.70; previous indoor best 13.39); due to injuries she hadn't improved much since winning Euro Junior silver in 2011 (13.67/-0.8), and we're brilliant at losing talented girls anyway, so it's nice to see her take another step up.
                              14.20 yesterday... new NR


                              • Jukka Keskisalo has apparently re-retired.