2007 world champion Pitkamaki announces retirement

One of the recent greats of the event, former world javelin champion Tero Pitkamaki from Finland has announced his retirement at the age of 36.

Pitkamaki hasn’t competed since the Paavo Nurmi Games in Turku in June last summer when he ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his support knee which forced him to undergo surgery and miss the remainder of the season, including the European Championships in Berlin.

Pitkamaki was initially planning to return to competition this summer as a precursor to a prospective fifth Olympic Games appearance in Tokyo next summer but the Finn ruefully admits his knee can no longer withstand the rigours of training. 

“This is a bit of a grieving process for me. Although it was well known that this day would come and I could prepare for it a little, it still feels empty and depressing. Fortunately javelin is just a sport and there is much more to life,” Pitkamaki told Finnish broadcaster YLE.

“When it became clear to me that I was no longer in the condition I wanted to be in and that I would no longer get there, my enthusiasm and motivation for the sport dried up. That is the biggest reason for the decision.”

Pitkamaki has been a mainstay on the Finnish team since making his Olympic debut in 2004 at the age of 21. Pitkamaki finished eighth in Athens and he was widely tipped to win his first major medal – perhaps even the gold medal – the following summer at the IAAF World Championships in Helsinki. 

Pitkamaki set his lifetime best of 91.53m in the build-up to those home championships but the Finn was unable to produce his best performance on the day of the final which was staged in pouring rain. Pitkamaki only produced one throw in excess of 80 metres – 81.27m – which placed him fourth.

But the major medals soon followed. Pitkamaki won silver at the 2006 European Championships in Gothenburg before defeating Andreas Thorkildsen to win the gold medal at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka with 90.33m – one of six competitions in which Pitkamaki surpassed the 90 metre-line.

Pitkamaki added five more major medals to his collection between 2008 and 2015, winning Olympic bronze in 2008 as well as silver and bronze medals from the 2013 and 2015 World Championships and bronze medals from the 2010 and 2014 European Championships.

One of Pitkamaki’s last hurrahs was a near vintage performance on home soil at the 2017 European Athletics Team Championships First League in Vaasa. On a cold midsummer afternoon, Pitkamaki launched the spear to a championship record of 88.27m for maximum points which helped Finland to secure promotion into the European Athletics Team Championships Super League.

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Pitkamaki’s six competitions in excess of 90 metres

91.53m Kuortane (26 June 2005)
90.54m Oslo Bislett Games (29 July 2005)
91.33m Monaco World Athletics Final (10 September 2005)
91.11m Kuortane (24 June 2006)
91.23m Lapinlahti (22 July 2007)
90.33m IAAF World Championships Osaka (2 September 2007)

Steven Mills for European Athletics

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