Finnkampen: Finnish men win, but women rack up tenth successive defeat to Sweden
The traditional annual Finnkampen athletics meeting between Finland and Sweden was held in the Olympic Stadium on Friday and Saturday, drawing a healthy crowd of around 54,000, despite less than sultry weather.
Finland emerged on top in the men's competition by 214 points to 195, overturning a narrow defeat last year, but the Finnish women went down heavily by 226 to 182, and Sweden recorded their tenth straight win.
The highlight of Saturday's programme, at least for the Finnish audience, was a thoroughly expected 1-2-3 by the men's javelin trio of Tero Pitkämäki, Ari Mannio, and Teemu Wirkkala. Pitkämäki, Finland's only medallist at the recent European Championships, threw 84.08 metres to win.
One bright spot amidst the gloom over the women's dismal showing was that in the juniors, both the Finnish boys and girls won handily, suggesting that the future may hold better things.
The standard of competition is not really the big issue with a meeting like this, and few events produced any results to set the pulse racing, but the old rivalry between the two countries is enough to ensure that the tradition goes on.
The first such meeting was held back in 1925, and it is these days a veritable relic: since the late 1980s it is the only such annual athletics international held at this level.
This year the two teams managed to avoid too much conflict, but there were some shared grumbles about the Olympic Stadium track.
The stadium has undergone extensive refurbishment of late, and one change has been to expand the size of the football field in the middle, to meet UEFA requirements.
The result has been that the bends on the track are marginally tighter than they were, and there have been some suggestions that the subject may come up again when Helsinki hosts the European Athletics Championships in 2012.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Finns fail to deliver in Finnkampen athletics meet (31.8.2009)
No change in Finnkampen pecking-order: Finnish men win, women lose again (1.9.2008)
Results from 2010