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Gentleman with a Killer Instinct

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8 March 1996. At the Nordic Combined competition in Falun, Sweden, 17 year-old Hannu Manninen created a sensation by beating Japan's Kenji Ogiwara and taking the prize. For Manninen’s coach, Jyri Pelkonen, the victory was not such a shock: the exceptional athlete had "the killer instinct in every race". 

Manninen’s other great strength was determination. In training he put himself into agonies, putting everything he had into success – and it paid off. Manninen took the overall World Cup title four times in a row from 2003/04 onwards and won a total of 48 times, setting a record that lasted until 2022.  

After retiring from the sport, the legend made a comeback – twice. "I still have that passion in me," he admitted. "And it's exciting to test whether I can still keep up with the youngsters."  

At the end of his second return to the slopes there were no medals for his efforts, but – according to Manninen’s wide Heli – his return had taught their children “never to give up, to realise their dreams and to realise that nothing is impossible." Manninen’s amazing achievements can still inspire us today.