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Paralympians, ugly weather and lacrosse

August 30, 2005
Hot on the heels of the World Athletics Championships in Helsinki, the neighbouring city of Espoo has just finished hosting the International Paralympic Committee’s Open European Championships. Open, meaning that the championships have not been restricted to European athletes. For those lucky folks who were able to attend, they were treated to some great performances. Flying Finn Leo-Pekka Tähti (double Paralympic champion in the 100m and 200m in Athens last year) showed them all why he is the fastest paralympic athlete around. Not only did he beat out David Weir (UK) and Kenny van Weeghel (Holland) in the 100m, he repeated his feat in the 200m. Markku Niinimäki (F54 classification) also showed his thing by snatching gold in the shot put and in the javelin.
 
Some of Canada’s premiere paralympic athletes also put on a show. Five-time gold medalist at last year’s Athens games, Chantal Petitclerc, won three gold medals in Espoo. Allan Bergman triumphed in the men’s marathon (T54) getting the gold just 1/100th of a second ahead of Tomasz Hamerlak (POL) and Roger Puigbo Bardaguer (ESP).
 
Canada finished 6th in the medals (9+8+3) and Finland 17th (5+0+1) Get the whole story at www.espoo2005.fi.
 
While the games went smoothly for the most part, athletes got a taste of the ugly weather that we had during the World Athletic’s Championships earlier this month. Last Friday a severe thunderstorm crashed through, downing plenty of trees and causing chaos for train travellers in the middle of Finland. http://www.helsinginsanomat.fi/english/article/1101980766304.
 
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While on the subject of ugly weather, I should report that we have had more than 40 "mini-tornados" this summer (this is what the English-speaking press in Finland is calling them – call it for what it is – a TORNADO!). A storm that spawned a tornado blew through the capital area last Sunday morning, sending several people to hospital. In neighbouring Kirkkonummi, dozens of trees were downed by the storm. On the Fujita Tornado Damage Scale it was considered category F1, which is rather unusual for Finland. See more here: http://www.spc.noaa.gov/faq/tornado/f-scale.html. Helsingin Sanomat International has a more comprehensive summary of the story: http://www.helsinginsanomat.fi/english/article/1101980765872.
 
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Finally, a reminder that the inaugural Finnish Lacrosse Championships will be held in Helsinki at the Käpylä Sports Park on Sunday, September 4 starting at 10.00 a.m. (www.lacrosse.fi). Get a comprehensive look at the sport by checking out the Canadian Lacrosse Association’s web pages at www.larcosse.ca. The sport is more popular than I ever knew!
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