Jukka Keskisalo of Finland shows his emotions after winning gold in Gothenburg
By Esa Maaranen,
President Finnish Sportswriters Association.
Helsinki (Finland), January 11, 2007 - 3000 meter hurdles Gothenburg 2006 European Track and Field Championships winner Jukka Keskisalo has overwhelmingly won the Finnish Sportswriters Association poll for 2006 Sportspersonality of the Year.
Keskisalo made Finnish steeplechase history by winning gold at the European Athletics Championships in August. It was the first Finnish victory in this event in a major international competition for 70 years.
The 26 year old received a total amount of 3392 votes to win the award ahead of Alpine skier Tanja Poutiainen, who with 2236 votes was also voted the best female sportsman for a second year in a row. Poutiainen took silver in the giant slalom at the Torino Olympics, and she was 6th in the slalom. It was Finland¡¯s first ever alpine skiing Olympic medal. She was followed by Hanna-Maria Seppälä (swimming) and Tiia Piili (aerobics).
276 out of 455 members of the Finnish Sportswriters Association who participated in this years voting valued Jukka Keskisalo as the best of all. Each member was required to lodge 10 names with their voting list.
Following Keskisalo and Poutiainen, the competition was very tight. There were only 166 votes between the third and the ninth. Tero Pitkämäki (Javelin throwing) came third with 1401 votes.
Others inside the Top Ten list were:
Amin Asikainen (Boxing)
Matti Hautamäki and Janne Ahonen (Ski jumping)
Jarkko Nieminen (Tennis)
The National Ice Hockey Team at the Torino Olympics
Jani Lakanen (Orienteering)
Hannu Manninen (Nordic combined).
The high level of candidates for this year¡¯s awards is indicated by the fact that four Torino Olympic medalists were not included in the Top Ten.
They were snowboarder Markku Koski, moguls skier Mikko Ronkainen, cross country sprint relay team Virpi Kuitunen and Aino-Kaisa Saarinen and the national curling team led by Markku Uusipaavalniemi.
Team of the Year was the Torino Silver Medal winner, the Finnish Ice Hockey Team. Coach of the year award went to Jukka Keskisalo¡¯s trainer, Tommy Ekblom.
The Disabled Athlete of the Year title was awarded to Markku Niinimäki (track and field). The wheelchair athlete won gold and silver medals in shot put and javelin at the IPC World Championships in Assen, setting a world record in the shot put. The best Young Sportsman title went to figure skater Kiira Korpi and the award for greatest surprise of 2006 was presented to Pia Sundstedt (cycling).
The members of Finnish Sportswriters Association have voted for the Sports Personality of the Year since 1947 when marathon runner Mikko Hietanen was the best. Veikko Hakulinen (skiing) has won the award four times (1951, 1952, 1953, and 1960) and Marjo Matikainen (skiing) three times (1986, 1987, and 1989).