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Mobile-phone throwers answer the call

"Athletes" from around the world descended on Finland last week to answer the call for the fourth annual Mobile Phone Throwing World Championships.

It's been more than 50 years since Helsinki hosted the Summer Olympics, but some of the world's finest athletes still find their way to Finland each August to answer the call of international competition.

And if that call has an annoying ring, it must be time for the Mobile Phone Throwing World Championships.

This year's event, held Aug. 23 in Savonlinna, Finland, was taken by native son Samu Santala, whose winning throw in the "original" style category measured 66.62 meters, or nearly 219 feet. While an impressive feat of technology tossing, it was 10 centimeters (roughly 4 inches) shy of last year's record-setting throw of 66.72 meters by fellow Finn Petri Valta.

In the "original" category, phone heavers use an over-the-shoulder technique and are judged on distance. Freestyle contestants are judged on "style and aesthetics," although event organizers didn't elaborate on their Web site.

There were a total of 89 competitors from nine countries at this year's event, with 37 people competing in individual categories, 30 in team categories and 22 in the junior contests. Contestants are supplied with a variety of Nokias, Ericssons and other types of phones to launch, and because of some quirk of the rules, the devices include their original batteries.

Now in its fourth year, the event celebrates users' collective irritation with their mobile devices and is hosted by Fennolingua, a language-translation service provider based in Finland.

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