News19 Dec 2007

F1 champion Kimi Räikkönen beaten by Pitkämäki in race for annual sports award


Tero Pitkamaki of Finland wins the Javelin Throw Final (© Getty Images)

In the annual battle between the Finns' love for Motor Sports and their passion for more traditional pursuits such as Athletics and Nordic Skiing, the national craze for Javelin throwing has won out for the first time since 1996!

In a great year all over for Finnish sport, the Men’s Javelin Throw World Champion, Tero Pitkämäki, has been elected the Athlete of the Year (all sports) in Finland.

The annual election was made by the members of the Finnish Sport Journalists Association and saw Pitkämäki receive 4725 points (ranking in Top Ten 10, 9...1 pts), with women’s triple World Cross Country Skiing champion Virpi Kuitunen next with 4089 points, and Formula 1 World Champion Kimi Räikkönen, third with 4022 points.

Pitkämäki, who had previously been named as the best European Athlete in 2007 by the EAA, got 203 number one votes of 541 ballots made.

Athletics also won last year with Jukka Keskisalo, the 2006 European 3000m Steeplechase champion, who had a hamstring injury this season, taking the national all sports honour.

However, Pitkämäki is the first Javelin thrower to get the honour since Heli Rantanen, the 1996 Olympic women’s champion.

"This result clearly shows that the traditional sports are well respected in Finland. I prefer athletics and skiing when I turn on the TV, but I’d like to see Räikkönen’s races, too, said Pitkämäki, whose throwing elbow was operated on September. But the recovery has been good and after only a couple of weeks he was back training.

"I’m on schedule on the road to the Beijing Olympic Games. After the Christmas I’ll fly to South Africa for a 4-week training camp, “ Pitkämäki confirmed.

Antti-Pekka Sonninen for the IAAF