101-year-old Olympian's life tells story of Finnish century

Finnish World War II veteran and Olympic athlete Torsten Liljeberg, aged 101, sits in his home in Helsinki, Finland on Friday Dec. 1, 2017, and shows

Finnish World War II veteran and Olympic athlete Torsten Liljeberg, aged 101, looks over his collection of awards and prizes received in domestic and

HELSINKI (AP) — Torsten Liljeberg's handshake is solid, and he's fit as only a former Olympian can be. For those who don't know him, he could pass for someone in his 80s.

Liljeberg is in fact 101 years old — a year older than his homeland Finland, a nation celebrating Wednesday the 100th anniversary of its independence from the Russian Empire.

Perhaps more than most others, the life of Liljeberg — a World War II veteran and an Olympic canoeist — tells the story of the tumultuous journey taken in the past century by this small Nordic country and its people.

Liljeberg was at the front lines more than once as Finland fought against the Soviet Union. A talented canoeist and kayaker, he represented the national team at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics.