Brave Finnish crowds exhibit the highest degrees of SISU in extreme weather

Brave Finnish crowds exhibit the highest degrees of SISU in extreme weather

Wednesday 10 August 2005

Helsinki, Finland – One of the information booklets available by the door of Media Centre at the 10th IAAF World Championships in Athletics, is entitled << “Portraying Finland” – Facts and Insights >> and in the present extremely inclement weather conditions in Helsinki, it has a conspicuously appropriate front cover photograph of a deep blue Finnish lake.

Helsinki might not be anywhere near Finland’s Lake District which lies to the north and west of the capital but presently you would never have guessed. The city seems ready to float away into the Baltic, like one of the huge ferries which ply the waters daily between here and Tallinn or Stockholm.

Incidentally, the storms are causing such high waves – between 4 to 7 metres in height – that the ferry schedules are currently postponed or cancelled altogether.

These are EXTREME weather conditions we are facing.

Host to four previous major athletics championships

On walking from my hotel this morning, momentarily in dry conditions, I decided to ask a few of the town’s inhabitants about the rain, and while each was very apologetically about the weather I got the impression that I was perhaps just a weak foreigner.
As unusual that these conditions might be in Helsinki for the beginning of August, after all they have held an Olympic Games, two European Championships, and the inaugural World Championships here, and at the very worst each time managed to balance warm, sunny weather with the occasional shower, it is true that the character of the Finnish has been shaped by their extreme climate.

Climate extremes

The Finns celebrate short glorious summers (honest, they do) with figures of over +30C, and then dive into the extreme’s of -50C degree temperatures in the winter. They are country people at heart who have learnt to live with the semi-arctic and adapt to it.

In the extremes of this climate has been forged the spirit that is Finnish ‘SISU’, a directly untranslatable word which defines the national resolve, stubbornness, guts, determination, and in a sporting context, the absolute will to win without compromise that was seen in Paavo Nurmi or Lasse Viren for example.

At the end of the nineteenth century, “when life was a constant matter of preparing for the worst” for most of the Finnish population, “the largely agrarian society favoured dogged labourers”, those people with a discipline and a capacity for hard work, people who showed resilience and fortitude.

Impressive audience figures

Today, the World Championships have reached the fifth of nine days of competition and are already in huge debt to this Finnish resolve as the audience, who have paid in some instances 305 euros for a seat for just one session, are unflinchingly positive, even upbeat in their support of the athletes. Even in the pouring rain they are filling the stands of the Olympic stadium with audiences each morning and evening session of over 25,000.

Yesterday in a brief spell of sunshine the sold-out the stadium in the morning, and tonight every ticket is again sold for the men’s Javelin Final.

Anywhere else in the world and in heavy rain and cold weather the benches would be empty but in Finland the fans, as the population as a whole, have learnt to live with nature and all its extremes. They have one answer. They put on an extra thick jumper, cover themselves in a plastic apron, and get on with enjoying the sport.

Time for some sun bathing?!

This morning Tim Hutchings, the former British distance runner, commentating for ‘Eurosport’ TV, spent much of the session remarking about the one spectator in the crowd who was sitting with a bare chest. Possibly, this was even an extreme for a Finn in temperatures of about +15, but in his own way singular way it painted a picture of overall Finnish defiance.

If anyone ever questioned the Finnish love of athletics, then these dank, wet miserable conditions have proved all the doubters wrong. Our sport might not be able to bask in warm weather at the moment but it can rejoice that in Finnish SISU it has found the loyalist of friends.

Chris Turner for the IAAF

The Finnish crowds have braved the elements but we Canadians have had to brave the CBC coverage!
A few highlights:
“In the high jump the competitor must then jump as high as possible” This from the colourless colour commentator, Jeff Gowan.
“He’ll want to better his last throw.” Mike Smith.
Thanks for that insight, Mike.
The bit where the announcer tells the soon-to-be Decathalon World Champion about his good fortune to, in one day, speak to Dan O’Brian- and to Mike Smith. There was an embarrasing pause while the champ tried to place the name.
Then there was the post race interview of our 1500m guys. After the obligatory “I don’t know what happened” bit from Sullivan (he is a kicker and has used that tactic successfully before but didn’t have the guns that day), we hear from our man in heat two. Mercifully, I didn’t catch the name, but, when asked about the gutsy performance by Webb to front run heat two to gain a space in the final, this guy laughs and makes a dismissive hand gesture and says: “Oh yah! We knew he was going to do that. That was the only way he could qualify!”
Hey, Numnuts!!! Weren’t YOU supposed to try to qualify too??? Heat one was pedestrian so the fastest loser spots were wide open. If you knew Webb was going out then why the fuck didn’t you hang on his shoulder, let him do the work and take advantage. If you couldn’t hang with him, at least you’d go home having given it a shot!!

Or how about when the cdn 100m girl ran and after she was finished they c"crongradualted her on just being here" and maclean informed her her first 30m’s was slow but she ran well after then asked for a favorite for the finals. Or i paticularily loved how they found every excuse possible for perdita.

Perdita has an excuse! No one has shielded her from the idiocy of the press in general and CBC in particular. She keeps letting people into her head before races. No one bugged her before she won in Paris cause they didn’t expect her to win.
Here’s a tip. Win first- talk later.

To True, when they where showing her rite before the race she looked like she was goinga crumble, cbc is a joke I liked how tyler wasn’t giving them much out of his interview.
Lane 4 for the final. Hope he does well I guess he’s really are last legit chance at a medal

I hope he can keep these clowns away till AFTER the race. Perdita kept the press’ attention till she went out- now they can focus their “special talents” on fucking Tyler up- but only if he goes near them!!

Sample press question I got but Ben DIDN’T hear before the race in Rome:
“How do you feel about the fact the Ben will be competing on the same track where Harry Jerome choked in 1960?”
No shit! That’s what he asked. If this guy had checked beforehand, he’d have discovered that Harry was winning his Olympic semi clearly when he pulled his hamstring due to a lack of any kind of decent therapy. He knew it when I was finished with him!

At the harry jerome I noticed his coach kept him very close and let few ppl near him hopfully thats the same case, also looked like he was in control from the momement warmup started. Hopfully that will be the case here. Gotta love canada unless its hockey related we are almost trying to cause are athlete to stink it up

Don’t worry! They fuck with the Hockey players too!

Glad to know there stupidity isn’t confined to certian sports :mad:

Think CBC is bad check out the commentary on the IAAF TV Highlights on thier website. It makes you want to wrip off your ears and eat them.

Also on Eurosport during one of the heats the 200m the commentator spent considerable energy explaining in detail how Obadele Thompson running out of lane 2 was going to be one of the atheltes to watch; how he had got off to a good start and was running well around the bend only to realise about 100m into the race that lane 2 was in fact vacant!

P.S. On the BBC, Sally Gunnel usually has a way of sticking the knife in and turning it after a race. However, during these championships she has been suprisingly nice and MJ has also had constructive things to say. Thumbs up to the BBC producers for thier pre champ prep.

It’s good to hear that someone with the knowledge is using it to good effect

I can tell you that the weather is even worse that all you can imagine. And wind readings are non sense, with the other coaches we have big laugh when +3m.s or -5 are annonced while obviously the wind is blowing on the opposite direction from what we see on the track and the grass, and of course from the race results…
The 3 bad points of these champs are
1 the weather
2 the very long hill that athlete have to cross, about 100m long, from the end of the warm up area to the call room
3 the old stadium without cover place
Fortunately, Finnish are very kind and helpful.

I was told by Geir Moens coach that one time, before a 200, when he and Moen was leading the pack towards that hill, they started walking faster and faster and when they got to the bottom of it stepped aside, letting the others pass, and of course everyone scaled the hill like they where possesed, no doubt picking up some lactic acid in the process.

There used to be a tunnel. Is it still there? Overall a very crappy place for a big meet though the beautiful girls do compensate for a lot.

Speaking of commentary! I’ve had the pleasure of being off work this week and watching the footage on BBC…Its actually been very good and I’ve had hilarious moments watching in the daytime…a classic comment was made about the accident prone Pole valuter from Finland who wrecked the pole valut equipment! This particular guy (name I can’t remember) was run over by a lorry at Christmas also…I all remember was a comment along the lines of: " Well i’m not suprised he was hit by a lorry…he’s a walking disaster" I was in stitches!

Yes the tunnel is still here. Not much air in it when all the people are in because of the heavy rain outside… A very noisy tunnel because of the air machines working all the time… Only 4 or 5 lanes, difficult to warm up when hurdlers are there…

i watched the WC’s with BBC and i listened to micheal johnson alot pre and post events.great athlete but @ the womens 100m he said the most rediculous thing about arron.he openly said that she was never a favorite for the event and also he said that mechanically she is bad for a sprinter.

now anybody can correct me(but i’m seldom wrong) but her technique is very very good.she stood up after the gun instead of doing what she performed in the semi.she accelerated smoothly instead of standing straight up @ the gun went.

for MJ to say this about her technique clearly tells me that this guy is not on the same wavelenght.def not!! i just don’t know what is wrong with him.i was stunned with his comment and i still can’t believe he said this about 1 of the smoothest athletes around.

MJ if you can read this…your a muppet period!!!


MJ also said once that events like Shot Put should be cancelled because of lack of popularity…

MJ has always been a dick, why are you guys shock when he spits out BS?

So MJ thinks Arron has bad for (cause she lost) and Lauren Williams has good form (cause she won)??