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Old post 1921 Jarvinen
Sat Oct 18, 2014 23:17

Sean Elkinton
1921-1940 "Jarvinen and his hiers"
Thu Dec 18, 2008 14:52

Jonny Myyra of Finland won the Olympic title again at Paris in 1924, with a 62.96 effort - a double no one has been able to duplicate since then. Second place went to Gunnar Lindstrom of Sweden, who conquered the world record three months later with 66.62. Myyra then settled down in the States, where he was credited with an impressive 68.56 in an unsanctioned meet held at Richmond California, in the fall of 1925. The following year, under similar circumstances, he threw the discus 46.76.

One of tghe first throwers to exhibit a high combination of speed and technique was Eino Penttila of Finland, who was only twenty-two when he raised the world record to 69.88. This was at Viipuri (now Viborg in the USSR) in 1927, and the Finn appeared to be an odds-on favourite for the Olympic title to be awarded at Amsterdam the following year. At the decisive moment, however, he was hampered by an injured foot and had to be content with sixth place. The winner, Erik Lundqvist of Sweden, did 66.60.

On 15 August of the same year, at Stockholm, the Swede became history's first 70 metre man at the age of twenty with a brilliant effort of 71.01. His series on that occasion was: 66.25 - 67.60 - 67.50 - 71.01 - 69.10 - 70.10. He had improved by more than eight metres in one year, and there was no telling what he would do in the end. Unfortunately a mental disease gradually conquered him and he was obliged to retire all too soon. He staged a comeback in 1936 and amazed experts by reaching a new personal best of 71.16 with his powerful thrust of old.

In the meantime, however the Finns had taken adequate steps to ensure that Lundqvist would be the last "interruptor", at least for a long time to come. From 1930 to 1950 they held the leadership almost without a break. The greatest figure of the Finnish era was Matti H. Jarvinen (born at Tampere on 18 February 1909; 1.86 m./84 kg.) the youngest offspring of Verner Jarvinen, whose contribution to athletic history has been delt with in part II. Matti was brought up in a great athletic atmosphere and became a gymnast at the age of three. Through many years of conditioning exercises yhe developed far beyond family expectations. Maybe it was not by mere chance that father Jarvinen saw each of his sons excel his elder brothers in athletic skill.

Matti made his official debut as a javelin thrower in 1926 and his very first result was amazing: 54.26. By the same time, however, he developed a "javelin elbow", a condition which made him stop for a long time. His solitary effort was at any rate good enough to earn him a place among Finland's fifty best javelin throwers of 1926. Once healed, the slightly dislocated right arm turned out to be an advantage because of its greater flexibility. In 1929, his first year of full activity, Matti broke through in no uncertain manner: Finnish champion with 66.18 and no. 1 in the World Year List with 66.75! It would be difficult to find another field event man who had such a Blitz start.

Of course, one should not forget that Jarvinen was an extremely well-conditioned athlete, having practiced various sports, notably including baseball, from childhood.

Matti Jarvinen's great career can be summarized as follows:

(1)After his first world record throw (72.38 in 1930), which was to remain unofficial, he wrote his name in
the IAAF record book ten times. 71.57, 71.70, 71.88 and 72.93 in 1930: 74.02 in 1932: 74.28, 74.61 and 76.10 in 1933: 76.66 in 1934: 77.23 on 18 June 1936 at the Elaintarha (Zoological Garden) Grounds in Helsinki.

(2)Won the Olympic title at Los Angeles(1932) with 71.72, exceeding 70 metres in five of his six throws, while the runner-up, Martti Sippala of Finland, did no better than 69.80. (Penttila, third at 68.70, made it a clean sweep for Suomi). Incidentally, a widely spread story claims that Jarvinen's winning distance at Los Angeles (which was to stand as Olympic record till 1952) was "adopted" as the height of the Marathon tower of the Helsinki Olympic Stadium,, inaugurated in 1938. (Although a Finnish expert once commented, somewhat ironically: "If so, that was at best a lucky coincidence").

In 1936, on the eve of the Berlin Olympics, Jarvinen looked certainly for a "repeat", but a back injury stopped him in the crucial pre-Olympic weeks. Lacking conditioning, he managed no higher then fifth at 69.18, in an event won by Gerhard Stock of Germany at 71.84. For once, Finland had to be content with "lesser" medals: Yrjo Nikkanen second (70.76) and Kalervo Toivonen third (70.72).

(3)Was European champion twice, with 76.66 at Turin in 1934, and 76.87 at Paris in 1938, marks which were to remain his best ever, next to his ultimate record of 77.23 in 1936. A further proff of his competitive elan.

Jarvinen's contribution to the advancement of javelin standards was great in more than one way. From a technical standpoint he differed from most if not all his predecessors in that he made the various phases of the exercise look like one continuous movement, in which smoothness of action and driving force melted into an ideal mixture.

In the latter part of his career the bespectacled Matti had a most serious opponent in his compatriot Yrjo Nikkanen (born at Kanneljarvi on 31 December 1914: 1.79m./ 77kg.). Here was another precocious talent who beat 70 meters in the third year of his career(71.30 in 1935). After winning a silver medal in the Berlin Olympics, Nikkanen rose to Jarvinen's stature in 1938. During that season, in fact, he won 8 out of 12 from his arch rival, twice bettering the world record: 77.87 at Karhula, then 78.70 at Kotka. The latter event took place on the threshold of Finnish winter, on 16 October. The temperature was only 6 degrees Celsius and there had been plenty of rain in the preceding days. To allow the two champions to get one last try at the record, gasoline was used to dry the rain soaked runway. Jarvinen opened with a normal 69.30. Then came Nikkanen with a real killer: 78.70. An effort which cost him a slight muscle injury - an equitable price to pay for a world record that remained unbeaten till 1953! After that great achievement, the excitement in and around the field was such that even the old warrior Jarvinen for once folded under pressure. He completed a mediocre series with a 69.32 throw. Nikkanen had a most powerful thrust, but generally lacked the competitive ability of his great rival. In fact, at the European Championships in Paris a few weeks earlier, Jarvinen had confounded experts with his best ever series and a clear victory over Nikkanen, 76.87 to 75.00.

At forty years of age, Jarvinen still managed to beat 67 metres. A fair all-around thrower, he was also a good long jumper (7.26) and an 11.1 metric sprinter. Finnish experts maintained that if he had concentrated on the decathlon he would possibly excelled his brother Aki, twice a silver medallist in the Olympic ten event grind.

The Finnish era reached the zenith in 1939, with seven throwers in the 70-metre-plus region, exactly 50% of the world's "output". Among the other good javelin throwers of the late Thirties I may single out Gustav Sule of Estonia (75.93) IN 1938), Lennart Atterwall of Sweden (75.10 in 1937, albeit "wind-assisted", and as such not ratified as a national record) and Olympic champion Gerhard Stock of Germany (73.96 in 1935, in losing to Jarvinen, 74.30).

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