SOCHI, Russia Feb 21 (Reuters) - There will be no golden finish to Teemu Selanne’s Olympic career, the ice hockey iron man left to play for another bronze after Finland suffered a heart-breaking semi-final loss to Sweden on Friday.
Playing in a record-equalling sixth Winter Games, the 43-year-old known as the Finnish Flash will not leave the Sochi stage in a blaze of golden glory but he will exit as one of the all-time Olympic greats.
He is already the leading Olympic scorer and with one game left may yet add to his 41 career points.
Selanne played in his first Winter Games in 1992 in Albertville, long before professional athletes were allowed to compete in the Olympics and he will take his final bow on Sunday.
The classy Finn, who won silver in 2006 and bronze in 1998 and 2010, is eager to add one final bauble to his Olympic haul.
“We try to take what is left out there,” said Selanne, who would become the oldest Olympic hockey player to claim a medal if Finland can take the bronze.
”Winning a medal in this kind of tournament is absolutely huge and hopefully it is going to be our day.
“Hopefully, we can pull it out, it is going to be another challenge for us. In this tournament it (a medal) is something you can always be proud of.”
Selanne did not attempt to hide his disappointment at never getting to the top of the podium but he has forged a deep respect for the Olympic ideal that it is just as important to take part as it is to win.
“Of course, I‘m disappointed but it’s hockey and there are highs and lows,” shrugged Selanne, sweat pouring down his face following a 2-1 loss to the Swedes.
”It is something you have to accept, that’s how it goes.
“In this tournament, at this level, the margin is so very small. Sweden was a little better today than us.”
Finland’s captain started the Sochi Olympics playing alongside 18-year-old Aleksander Barkov and 21-year-old Mikael Granlund, who were not even born when he was competing in his first Games.
“It is hockey and we all know there are the highs and the lows and hopefully tomorrow will be a high again,” said Selanne. “We go forward and we try to do our best.” (Editing by Ed Osmond)