Surprise gold for Venla Harju as Finland celebrated in European Orienteering – a total of three Finnish medals in the long distances

The orienteer Venla Harju has won EC gold in the long distance in the EC competitions in Rakvere in Estonia. Harju defeated Tove Alexandersson by 17 seconds. Marika Teini took another medal for Finland by being third.

– Unbelievable that I won, because the competition did not go perfectly. On a couple of stages I was in trouble, but I cleared my barriers quickly.

– Before the competition I knew that I have a medal chance, but during the competition I thought that I might manage to be among the top six if I succeed towards the end, Harju commented after the competition during the organizers’ interview.

– I like such terrain where it is sometimes difficult to force, and sometimes goes away, said Harju.

Finland even had opportunities to take a double victory, but Sweden’s superstar and big advance favorite Tove Alexandersson rose after a bad start to second in the final results past Teini.

The orienteer Marika Teini
Marika Teini took bronze in the long distance.

Picture: Suunnistusliitto

– I didn’t really have the enthusiasm to compete today, it was simply lacking mentally today. Venla Harju deserved to take the victory because I wasn’t really there today, said Tove Alexandersson in SVT’s broadcast shortly after the race.

– I run physically, but my head is not there. Then strange things can happen, things that shouldn’t happen. But it can be, you can’t always be on top, commented Alexandersson.

Elias Kuukka bronze medalist in the men’s competition

The third Finnish medal of the day was taken in the men’s competition, where Elias Kuukka put in a strong effort. Kuukka worked his way up through the competition and was finally rewarded with an EC bronze.

European champion in Rakvere was Sweden’s Martin Regborn 31 seconds ahead of Norway’s silver medalist Eskil Kinneberg, and 1.06 ahead of Kuukka.

It was the first time since 2004 that Sweden took gold in a men’s orienteering championship in a forest context.

Olli Ojanaho was the second best Finn in sixth place.

The orienteer Elias Kuukka

Image: Orienteering Association/ Mika Ilomäki

European Championships in orienteering, long distance ladies 12.9 km:

1. Venla Harju FINE 1.29.52
2. Tove Alexandersson SWE +0.17
3. Marika Teini FIN +0.52
4. Sara Hagström SWE +1.31
5. Lina Strand SWE +2.37
6. Johanna Öberg SWE +2.51
7. Paula Gross SUI +4.20
8. Andrine Benjaminsen NOR +5.41

12. Enni Jalava FIN +9.17
16. Ida Haapala FIN +11.12
18. Miia Niittynen FIN +11.58
22. Anna Haataja FIN +13.15
45. Anu Tuomisto FIN +24.20

Men, long distance 17.3 km:

1. Martin Regborn SWE 1.39.18
2. Eskil Kinneberg NOR +0.31
3. Elias Kuukka FIN +1.06
4. Kasper Fosser NOR +1.38
5. Emil Svensk SWE +3.19
6. Olli Ojanaho FIN +5.21
7. Henrik Johannesson SWE +5.28
8. Eetu Savolainen FIN +5.53

10. Miika Kirmula FIN +6.11
11. Topi Syrjäläinen FIN +8.58
18. Aleksi Karppinen FIN +10.54
20. Aaro Aho FIN +11.45
36. Joni Hirvikallio FIN +20.44

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