Finnish Olympic champion ski jumper arrested for attempted murder

Monday, December 28, 2009

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Police in Finland have arrested Matti Nykänen, a four-time Olympic gold medallist ski jumper, on suspicion of attempted murder. He spent the weekend in custody following an incident on Christmas Day in which his wife was injured.

Nykänen, 46, is alleged to have left his wife with wounds to her hands and forehead in a knife attack, causing her to flee to a neighbour’s house where she called the police. The Agence France-Presse reported that the Helsingin Sanomat expects Nykänen, from Jyväskylä, to be charged tomorrow.

Nykänen, who won three of his gold medals at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary and has nineteen medals from various competitions, is best known for sport although recently he has taken up singing, performing in bars and nightclubs, and written an autobiography. A regular sight in the tabloid press, he has sought treatment as an alcoholic and is known to the police, previously serving time in prison for violent offences.

His convictions include assaulting his fourth wife in 2006, and he served four months despite requesting community service; a stab attack from behind with a five-inch blade on a friend landed him a two-year suspended sentence and put the man in hospital. He also served thirteen months for stabbing a friend while drinking and has been prosecuted for attacking a man with a knife in a restaurant, a case dropped through lack of evidence.

He was regularly drunk in training sessions and in public. A weekly Finnish gossip magazine paid for a series of laughing gas treatments in exchange for story rights in a bid to combat his alcoholism. He has worked as PR representative for Jyväskylä and gave relationship advice answering phones for a sex line. He has also been employed by a club known to hire out prostitutes which asked him to be a stripper; media reported he did private shows, an allegation he denies. Swedish and US porn producers offered him roles in their films.

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