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Karjalainen - 82.15m Hammer throw

Lapua, FinlandPekka Karjalainen, the 1998 World Junior champion yesterday threw himself into Olympic medal reckoning with a massive 82.15m Finnish record heave in the men’s Hammer.

The 24 year-old thrower who held the previous record of 81.70 (2002), unleashed his 82.15m effort in the second round after opening with 79.88. Karjalainen who also took the European Junior title in 1999, fouled his third throw (about 70m) and then passed on his remaining three efforts. Finland’s second string, David Söderberg (78.83 PB – 2003) was next with 73.39.

Third best so far this season

The new record is the third longest throw in the world of 2004 behind only Hungarian Adrian Annus (82.59) and Koji Murofushi of Japan (82.18) who have thrown better.

The young Finn has started off the year in his best ever form with a win at the IAAF GPII meet in Milan (79.02 – 2 June), a second place in Turin (77.00 – 4 June), a 80.63 win in Töysa (Finland) on 9 June, and now yesterday’s national record.

They say even the darkest cloud has a silver lining, and Karjalainen’s performance certainly fits that role in terms of the fortunes last week of Finnish athletics.

Keskisalo out for the season

It was all doom and gloom in Finnish athletics circles with news that the next potential ‘Flying Finn’ Jukka Keskisalo, who was 9th in the World Championships Steeplechase final, will be out for the season with a stress fracture.

Injuries to top throwers

Rumours also persisted that Finland’s best championship Javelin throwers Aki Parviainen (1999 World champion and 2001 World Javelin silver) and Mikaela Ingberg (1998/2002 European women’s bronze medallist) who were fifth and four in Paris last summer were both contending with serious injury problems.

Added to which reigning Olympic Shot champion Arsi Harju still has not recovered his former technique.

Women’s fillip

Karjalainen was not the only fillip at the meeting in Lapua (12 June) as Sini Pöyry, who was the 1997 European Junior silver and 1998 World Junior silover medallist in the women’s Hammer, went narrowly over the Olympic A-standard with 67.68 (A is 67.64). Pöyry was fifth at the senior European championships in 2002.

Javelin – Athens selection battle hots-up

Today (Sunday 13 June) Tero Pitkämäki also gave some increased optimism for Finland's Javelin tradition by producing an Olympic “A” qualification when winning in Eurojoki with 82.22m. The throw was a huge new personal best (previous 80.45 – 2003), and he also threw 79.14 in the competition.

The 21 year-old who was the under-23 European bronze medallist last summer, is the second Finn this year to obtain the Olympic qualification mark. Esko Mikkola who is studying in the USA threw 82.18 on 22 May, which means that there are already three throwers qualified for Athens, as Parviainen also has the mark from 2003.

There are also another three Finnish throwers over 80 metres this summer waiting to challenge, so qualification for the Olympic squad looks like it will be as tight as ever.

At the same Eurojoki meet, Ville Tiisanoja was again in good Shot form with a 20.60 release (20.08, 20.47, x, x, x, 20.60), while there was a national women's youth record in the Javelin by 15 year old Hanna Lindgren (52.42m).