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Subject: Matti Nykänen, Finnish ski jumper - Olympic champion

He was 55
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Date Posted: Monday, February 04, 03:28:36am

HELSINKI, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Finnish ski jumping great Matti Nykanen died in the early hours of Monday at the age of 55, local media reported citing his wife.

“Matti died last night,” his wife Pia Nykanen told Finnish weekly magazine Seiska, without revealing the cause of death.

Nykanen, dubbed the ‘Flying Finn’, won four Olympic gold medals, three of them at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada, as well as five World Championship gold medals during his active years from 1981 to 1991.

Back in 2008, Nykanen’s long-term coach Matti Pulli said he considered Nykanen, who claimed 46 World Cup wins, as the best ski jumper ever.

“His structure was excellent, he had very good thrust and he was persistent,” Pulli said. “He was child-like, almost like a cherub and that charmed people.”

After his sports career, Nykanen struggled to find a new path for his life, leading him to tempt his fate as a singer and even as a stripper for a short period of time.

Nykanen often made headlines in the local media for his personal relationships including several marriages, violent behaviour, and alcohol-related incidents.

Nykanen was sentenced to prison on two different occasions, for a stabbing in 2004 and for assaulting his then-wife in 2009.

He was diagnosed with diabetes last year.

In addition to this remarkable sports career, Finns remember Nykanen for his one-liners that have become widely adopted in every day use.

“The odds are fifty-sixty,” Finns often quote him to describe a situation when things could take a turn either way. (Reporting by Anne Kauranen Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)


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