Finland’s Niclas Sandells wins the 1500m in the 2011 Finland vs Sweden dual match (Hasse Sjögren) © Copyright
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Finland and Sweden share match victories in famous annual match

Helsinki, FinlandThe annual dual meeting between Finland and Sweden followed recent patterns of success with hosts Finland again better than Sweden on the men’s side, while the visitors Sweden scored their 11th victory in a row in the women’s match. The legendary match was played out in front of a combined two-day crowd of over 50,000 on Friday 9 and Saturday 10 September in Helsinki’s 1952 Olympic stadium.

MEN – Åstrand takes sprint double

The men’s match became very tight towards the end of the second day after Finland had been dominating clearly on the first day at the Olympic Stadium.  Following double home victories from Jukka Keskisalo and Joonas Harjamäki in the 3000m Steeplechase, and from Antti Ruuskanen (82.02) and Ari Mannio (81.69) in the Javelin Throw, the Long Jump became the decisive event on day two.

Following Mikko Kivinen’s leap of 7.85m and the 7.84m of Tommi Evilä in the 5th round, Sweden’s Michel Torneus had to settle for 3rd place with his last attempt of 7.83, and so another double for the Finns was secure. Evilä who was determined to take his 4th match career victory, did it by flying to 7.86m in the 6th round.

Then came the very last event, the 1500m, with Sweden then six points behind in the two-day match standings. Finland’s Niclas Sandells and Jonas Hamm ran a cleaver tactical race and left no space for their Swedish opponents to pass by, and as a result another Finnish double was secured, with Sandells winning in 3:46.36 and Hamm, second, 0.31 seconds behind.

So the final score was 206 - 194 for Finland.

One of the Finnish heroes of the two days was Jonathan Åstrand, who won the 100 and 200m in 10.40 and 20.91. 18-year-old Oskari Mörö won the 400m Hurdles and Antti Korkealaakso left Robert Kronberg, the Olympic finallist in 2000, second in the 110 m Hurdles. It was the last race of Kronberg’s distinguished career.

WOMEN - Sweden saunters to emphatic win

Carolina Klüft was, as in so many years before, Sweden’s key athlete by winning the 100m in 11.67sec and the Long Jump with a 6.33m leap.

Moa Hjelmer ran an impressive double, too: the 200m in 23.49 and the 400m in 52.73. Behind her in the 400m, Ella Räsänen set the Finnish Junior record of 53.44sec, while Finland’s Karin Storbacka spurted into the victory in the 800 (2:04.49) and 1500 (4:46.28) metres.

Sweden´s Kenyan-born Isabellah Andersson, who placed 7th in the Marathon at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, easily won the 5000 and 10,000 metres.

European Junior champion Nooralotta Neziri’s 13.35sec  in the 100m Hurdles was one of the Finnish women’s best performances as well as Merja Korpela’s 66.49m in the Hammer. Anna Wessman won the Javelin with a U23 National record of 57.09m for Sweden.

The total score 225 - 182 was the second biggest ever winning margin for Sweden in the women's match.

Fin the Youth matches, Finland´s U18 boys beat Sweden 110 - 91, but Sweden´s U18 girls were better, 104 - 95.

A-P Sonninen for the IAAF

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