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  1. Collapse Details
     
    Senior Member
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    Aug 2007
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    Sleeping in Finland
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    Thanks for the compliments.

    Keskisalo officially announced his retirement after the Olympic final in 2012, a result of injuries and having already achieved plenty. He kept training, but at lower intensity than before. In May 2013 he won a minor half-marathon in 1:11:27, but at that point he was still officially in retirement. In June and July he ran a couple of races for his club, Joensuun Kataja, including the 4x1500 at the Finnish relay championships (they placed third). I think that had always been part of his plan (keep helping his club even when retired) but those races apparently got him hooked to competing again and he showed up for the NC steeple, which he won in 8:53. I think realizing he was still the Finnish #1 made him decide to come back - if you're the best and like competing, why not get the accolades and $$$ that go with it? He ran a couple more steeple races that year, including at the FINvSWE dual meet (he won), but it was only in December that he officially said he was returning (without a coach). There's a nice article on his decision to return here, though it's in Finnish.

    This year he's again been training at full intensity, but an injury sidelined him for more than a month in May-June and when he opened his outdoor season in early July his form looked no better than when he was still retired. He's made a lot of progress in the weeks since then, though; he won the NC 1500m with a 53-second last lap, so it seems his speed is still there. He's always had a good kick but the WC/OG finals have been just too fast for him; when he won at the Euros it was a relatively slow race (8:24). Unfortunately, this year even the Euros will likely be too fast for him - I doubt we'll see another 8:24 race, and even if we did he's no longer in 8:1x shape, which he'd have to be to still have his kick left at the end. I'll be quite happy if he makes the final, a slow heat would help.

    Eriksson was a talented junior and placed 5th at the World Juniors in 2008, setting an NJR; she's been followed by other talents like Oona Kettunen (who took down her NJR), Camilla Richardsson and Minttu Hukka, but it remains to be seen whether any of them can make the transition to the senior ranks as nicely as Eriksson. Unlike Kettunen and Johanna Lehtinen (who was by far the biggest talent of the previous generation) she hasn't had serious injury woes; minor problems now and then, but nothing that would have disrupted his training or competitive seasons too badly. That probably explains why she, unlike the other two, has been able to improve quite steadily.

    She now lives in Sweden much of the time and has coaches in both Sweden and Finland. She's now indeed in career-best flat form, but much of the improvement to her steeple times actually has to do with improved barrier-clearing technique, which until this year was a horror-movie thing that involved plenty of stutter-stepping. I think her Swedish coach deserves the credit for that changing. Like Keskisalo, she has a good kick, but probably because of her dubious technique she's normally only unleashed it with about 40 meters to go; she hasn't felt confident in kicking with barriers still left to clear. It remains to be seen whether she can change that now that her technique is better; doing so is a must if she wishes to challenge for gold at the Euros. That she can have a longer kick has been shown in flat races, most recently the 1500 at the NCs where she outkicked Kristiina Mäki (who, unfortunately, represents the Czech Republic internationally), but we haven't seen it in the steeplechase yet.

    (I'm not sure who her Swedish coach is. Her Finnish coach is Guy Storbacka, the father of one of our top w800/1500 runners.)
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  2. Collapse Details
     
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    north coast USA
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    2,844
    Thank you!
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