Pitkämäki in javelin trio for European Championships
Four-time medallist made good use of last opportunity to qualify
Finland has long had a love-affair with the javelin throw, and the relationship has been buoyed up over the years by more than a modicum of success in the discipline at the Olympic and World Championships level.
Hence the choice of who will represent the country at the upcoming European Athletics Championships, to be held in Helsinki next week, is a significant news item, albeit that Finnish hopes of taking a big bag of medals from these games are rather slim.
The 64,000-dollar question before the decision was whether Tero Pitkämäki would get a call-up.
Pitkämäki is a proven performer, a former World Champion (Osaka 2007), and on his day the strongest of the Finnish contingent, but of late he has been barely able to throw a tantrum, let alone a javelin.
However, Pitkämäki, who also had to spend a couple of days in hospital last week after a bout of food poisoning, rose Lazarus-like from his sickbed to win a qualifying competition at the weekend, with a throw of 83.87 metres.
This was enough to convince the board of SUL, the Finnish Athletics Federation, that he should get a chance to perform in the Olympic Stadium.
The other two members of the Finnish trio are Antti Ruuskanen, who has delivered this season's longest throw by a Finn (84.95) and Ari Mannio, whose personal best this year is 83.74.
Pitkämäki's good fortune in delivering when it mattered last weekend means Teemu Wirkkala becomes the first reserve, although he, too, has thrown over 83.70 this season. Lasse Eteläaho will be the second reserve.
There is a certain risk in picking Pitkämäki, who has not exactly shown much form in earlier events, whilst Ruuskanen and Mannio have topped 80 metres on each of the five occasions when they have thrown this season.
Wirkkala has also shown admirable consistency if not quite the same length as Pitkämäki managed. He threw four times over 80 metres at last weekend's event, while only two of Pitkämäki's throws cleared this mark.
Pitkämäki himself said he would have understood completely if things had gone against him despite his recent win, and he is certainly well aware of the pressures now placed on his shoulders.
Helsingin Sanomat was not able to contact Teemu Wirkkala for comment on Monday.
It is to be hoped we do not have a repetition of the mess surrounding the selection for the IAAF World Championships a year ago, when Antti Ruuskanen got his seat on the plane to South Korea only after going through arbitration.
In any event, both the athletes who missed out this time around will still be in the mix for the possibly more attractive ticket of the London Olympics.
The final opportunity to lay down a marker for the Olympics will be in early July, but in truth if any of the three now chosen for Helsinki actually comes up with a European Championships medal of some description, their selection is pretty much guaranteed.
Previously in HS International Edition:
World Championships selection pantomime ends in victory for Antti Ruuskanen (24.8.2011)
Tero Pitkämäki (Wikipedia)
European Athletics Championships Helsinki 2012