Above, Creswell’s Lonn Robertson, left, cheers on Aleksi Ojala, far right, during hisrace walk. Below, Enni Nurmi keeps a steady pace during her race walk.
The Finnish national team got its competition underway last week on the first day of the World Athletic Championships in Eugene with gritty showings on the race walk course and two women reaching the hammer throw finals.
Enni Nurmi and Aleksi Ojala both partook in the race walk on Friday afternoon, coming in 29th and 20th, respectively. While neither posted personal bests, both performed well under the conditions, according to a local track expert. Lonn Robertson, a Creswell resident who played a key role in organizing the Finns’ visit to The Friendly City, was out by Autzen Stadium’s race walk loop watching, and said the Finns would be happy with the results.
“I think they’re doing as well as they had hoped to be honest,” Robertson said. “And I think they’ll be pleased with their performance.” While the thermometer read only 85 degrees, the conditions felt much hotter on the scorching road in the midafternoon. Nurmi kicked off the race walking with a solid showing, and despite falling back of the front group early, she kept to her race plan the whole way.
“Enni stuck with her 4:50 plan to the second every kilometer until the last couple,” Robertson said. “Very impressive to execute exactly what her race plan was.”
Ojala had a similar race, falling back early but sticking to his plan. Ojala will be back in action on Sunday the 24 in the 35km race walk, an event that Robertson said suits Ojala more.
“(Aleksi) is a 50-kilometer race walker. And so this is a short, fast course. And it’s not his specialty at all,” Robertson said. “He should perform much better in the 35 kilometer.”
Also on day one of the competition were the preliminary rounds of the men’s and women’s hammer throw competitions. While neither of the men finished in the top 12 in order to qualify for the finals, both women did achieve the top 12. Krista Tervo qualified in the third position, putting herself in a solid position for Sunday’s final. The Creswell community showed their support in those preliminary rounds, with many making it out to cheer on the Finns.
“There were a lot of people there for the hammer throw because we had a huge group from the middle school,” Robertson said. “(They) were there hollering and screaming for Finland, so that was fun.”
Sunday’s final, however, brought disappointment for the Finnish throwers. In the Hammer finals, all 12 women were granted three throws, before the top eight were rewarded with another three throws. While Silja Kosonen ended in seventh place, Tervo failed to qualify for the final three throws after scratching twice and mustering a throw of only 69.04 meters in her one successful attempt, a far cry from her national record of 74.40 meters.
The full results of the Finnish athletes as of Monday night can be seen at wordathletics.org, with many more Finns set to compete in the back half of the competition.