Enduro community stunned by death of Mika Ahola at 37
Five-time Enduro World Champion dies of internal organ injury in Barcelona hospital
Mika Ahola (1974-2012)
On Monday, only one photograph decorated the website of the Italian enduro team HM Moto.
In it the team’s Finnish superstar Mika Ahola sprays champagne, perhaps after his fifth world championship victory last autumn.
The text ”Ciao Mika” has been added to the joyous and beautiful picture.
The five-time enduro World Champion Mika Ahola died of post-operative complications in a Barcelona hospital on the night before Monday .
Ahola was just 37 years old. He suffered from an internal organ injury that he had sustained three weeks ago in a fall while practicing.
Ahola’s death and the preceding accident came to the enduro folks as a complete surprise.
Sauli Mäkelä, who has worked for the Finnish Motorcycling Federation for 25 years, knew Ahola from his early childhood. He received the information of Ahola’s death yesterday from an Italian reporter.
“Apparently nobody in Finland was really aware of his situation. I was in Barcelona for five days last week and I would have definitely paid him a visit, had I known”, Mäkelä explains.
In a message sent out on New Year’s Eve, Ahola unexpectedly told the Finnish news agency STT that he would quit the sport.
“I gave it my all, and even though the sport took a lot, it also rewarded me with more than I could have ever imagined when I first started”, Ahola wrote.
Mäkelä reckons that Ahola’s decision to pull out may have been connected with the accident.
Ahola left a strong imprint on the history of enduro biking. In addition to five consecutive Enduro World Championships, Ahola was also the oldest-ever Champion and the first rider to win in all three classes.
Ahola also won the classic Finnish enduro competition - the Tour de Lake Päijänne - on six occasions, and seven times he helped Team Finland take home the Enduro World Trophy.
“He was definitely an individual and a character of the first order. You could tell that just by looking at his hair”, Mäkelä describes Ahola, who was known for his long and fluffy hair.
Another Finnish enduro star Juha Salminen remembers Ahola as a conscientious trainer.
“He did not have an illustrious start to his career, but through hard work he then reaped an ample amount of success.”
“Deaths are not unheard-of in motorsports. But when it hits so close it does touch you”, Salminen ponders.
Jari Mattila, who also rides for an Italian team, grieves the passing of a good friend.
“Last time I tried to contact him was this past Christmas. Unfortunately I did not succeed.”
For Mattila, too, Ahola’s decision to quit as well as his death came as a surprise.
According to Mattila, Ahola was one of the most daring enduro riders.
“He was perpetually young and energetic, like a 15-year-old, and he was not afraid to take risks.”
Ahola lived with his wife in Spain and Hämeenlinna, Finland.
As a multilingual and colourful personality, Ahola was a popular sportsman in Southern Europe.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Mika Ahola ends his career in enduro biking (2.1.2012)
Mika Ahola (Wikipedia)