Finland’s Henry Manni targets four golds at Swansea 2014

The T34 world record holder aims to land his first gold medals at August’s IPC Athletics European Championships. 28 Jul 2014
Walid Ktila

Tunisia's Walid Ktila is one of the biggest rivals of Finland's Henry Manni

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With just three weeks to go until the IPC Athletics European Championships in Swansea, Great Britain, Finland’s T34 wheelchair racer Henry Manni has sent out a clear message to his rivals warning he is confident of landing four gold medals once competition gets underway on 19 August.

The 22-year-old made his major international competition debut at last year’s World Championships in Lyon, France, competing in all T34 events from the 100m through to the 800m, finishing with a bronze in the 200m.

At Swansea 2014 he will complete in the same four events and believes that with his superior maximum speed, he will be the man to beat.

“It is my objective to win all the races in which I participate. I have all the European records from 100m through to the 1,500m so the target is realistic,” said Manni who has been in blistering form this season.

At May’s IPC Athletics Grand Prix in Nottwil, Switzerland, Manni became the first person to beat Tunisia’s world and Paralympic champion Walid Ktila, a habit he wants to make a regular occurrence by the time he reaches the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

“I have an extremely good training period behind me and the maximum speeds have risen well. I am sure that I am able to improve my result in the end of the season,” explained Manni who was inspired to take up wheelchair racing by the performances of his teammate Leo-Pekka Tahti.

“The European Championships are really important, but the main objectives are for future seasons. In 2015 we have our World Championships and at Rio 2016 I want to be invincible, so beating Ktila is always a big thing.”

Closer to home, Manni knows that to land his first major international gold medal at Swansea 2014 he will have to beat the Netherlands’ Stefan Rusch, the defending 100m and 200m European champion.

“We were in Tenerife in January at the same time on the training camp. Stefan is a hard resistance on 100m and I do not underestimate him at all. I am sure that he also is able to improve his results this season too,” said Manni.

“The hardest challenge is probably going to be given by Bojan Mitic however. My little brother Tuomas Manni may also be a surprise danger as well in Swansea.”

Manni says his strongest distance is the 200m, but hopes that with faster starts he can become a force to be reckoned with over 100m too.

Regardless of the distance, he thinks his desire to win will propel him to gold.

“My desire to win gives me extra motivation in every training session I have. At the starting line, it has a big significance how much you want to win. My desire of winning is really big but still I want to win honestly. The dishonest victory would not mean anything to me. I will believe that it is a great feeling to have gold medal in the European Championships.”

Manni will be one of 560 athletes from 39 countries competing at the Swansea 2014 IPC Athletics European Championships between 18-23 August.

Tickets for the event at Swansea University are now on-sale and can be purchased via the Swansea 2014 ticket website. Prices start from £3 per session.