Athletes Fight for Their Country in Sweden vs Finland Battle

Athletes Fight for Their Country in Sweden vs Finland Battle

This weekend a battle of epic proportions is taking place up in the North. The top athletes from Finland and Sweden meet up to measure which country is better, faster and stronger in the annual Finland-Sweden Athletics International.

The neighbouring countries have had a long-lasting rivalry when it comes to sports, but they don't think twice about helping each other in their hour of need.

Sweden took care of Finnish children during World War II when their parents were busy fighting for freedom, and more recently Finland sent firemen to help Sweden with the raging wildfires.

The battle, which goes under the name Finnkampen among Swedes and Suomi-Ruotsi Maaottelu among Finns, is one of the biggest Athletics events of the year and attracts viewers and bettors alike.

A 100 Year History of The Finland Sweden Battle

1918The Finns come up with the idea
1925The first Athletics battle is held (Men only)
1953A separate competition for Women is introduced
1964Both competitions are merged together
2004New audience record is set with 51 567 tickets sold

The Finland-Sweden Athletics International is the longest still ongoing annual competition between two countries. As a matter of fact, it is the world's only two-country battle in Athletics that is arranged at a professional level.

The idea of arranging the battle was born one hundred years ago in 1918, the year after The Finnish Declaration of Independence from Russia. It took some time for Sweden to warm up to the idea, but it is now a main event in most athletes' calendars.

The organizing country and the location of the competition vary year by year. The 2018 edition will take place in the city of Tampere in Southern Finland. There's a specially appointed cruise ferry crossing the Gulf of Bothnia in conjunction to the event, taking both athletes and athletics aficionados to the battle arena.

Around 50k tickets are sold every year to the two day event, which is an impressive amount considering the combined population of these two countries is just above 15 million people. While the London Olympic Stadium has a 80 000 capacity, the Tampere Stadium has a seating capacity of only 16 800.

What Field Events are Offered?

Finland may be known for its Mobile Phone Throwing and Wife Carrying Championships, but this battle features only traditional track and field events:

  • 100m / 200m / 400m / 800m / 1500m
  • High Jump / Long Jump / Triple Jump / Pole Vault
  • 4x100m relay / 4x400m Relay
  • Discus Throw / Shot Put / Hammer Throw / Javelin Throw
  • 5000m / 10000m Long Distance Run
  • 5km Walk / 10km Walk
  • 110m Hurdles / 400m Hurdles / 3000m Steeplechase

Point System and Previous Winners

Unlike most Athletics events, the focus in the Finn vs Swede battle is on the team and not on individual star players. Even though Finnkampen have featured some world-renowned athletes such as Carolina Klüft and Tero Pitkämäki, the point system puts the spotlight on the whole team:

1st7 points
2nd5 points
3rd4 points
4th3 points
5th2 points
6th1 point
Relay: 1st team 5 points, 2nd team 2 points if finishes.

Although held at the same time, the battle for Men and Women are separate competitions. The country, which athletes score the most points in the different field events is crowned as the winner.

As you can see from the list below on previous winners in recent years, the points are pretty tight. Since the beginning, Sweden has got 38 victories (17 male and 21 female) while Finland has got 56 wins (30 male and 26 female) in total.


Other Battles Between Finland and Sweden

An Athletics championship for Youths is held simultaneously with the main event. Here boys and girls are competing separately, just like the men and women. This means that, in total, the Finland-Sweden Athletics International consists of four different battles.

In 1999, a similar championship was established in Floorball. It also consists of four different groups, with females competing every odd year and males competing every even year. Even though not as popular as the Athletics version, it is still a big event among Swedish and Finnish players.

As you can expect from the two avid hockey nations, there is also a two-country battle taking place in ice hockey, preparing players for the World Championships and other international competitions.

Furthermore, There a Sweden vs Finland battle taking place in poker every year called The Poker Tour Finnkampen. Instead of alternating the host burden, the countries decided to let their common neighbour and friend Estonia be the organizer, in order to have the tournament on neutral ground.

What can we say? There are few countries in the world that have a more serious sports rivalry than that between Finland and Sweden.

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