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Finland in Rio

August 18, 2016

Well, we’re entering the final stretch of the Rio Olympics already. Team Finland sent 54 athletes to Rio with most of the medal contenders being women. Thus far their performances have produced only one medal and the English language media in the country has been strangely quiet on reporting anything about Finland’s athletes at the games. Actually it has been a bit underwhelming for Finland, and the upsets and surprises have come from other countries. It’s not that Finland is bad (and whoever says so is wrong), it’s just that everyone else has upped their game.

Finland captured its first medal yesterday, a bronze in women’s boxing, courtesy of Mira Potkonen! Finland’s other medal hope lay with last year’s World Championship silver medalist, Petra Olli in women’s wrestling (60kg), but she was unfortunately eliminated from competition in the early rounds. She was incredibly disappointed. The women’s 60kg class is definitely one of the most competitive in women’s wrestling!

While Finland has traditionally been a powerhouse in men’s javelin, only Antti Ruuskanen qualified for the final. Ruuskanen, was incidentally upgraded to a silver medal for London 2012 on August 10 because of a doping infraction by the Ukranian thrower, Oleksander P’yatnytsya). The IOC delivered its verdict here.

Elite athletes face tremendous pressure to perform when it comes to crunch time and I wonder if this time, the pressure was just too much for some of Finland’s best. They were expected to perform and fell a little short in the end. The other question I have is, are we supporting Finland’s athletes enough? These days it seems to be the women who are stepping up and meeting the mark as far as competitiveness goes. We all know that Finland’s female athletes deserve far more attention and coverage than the press currently gives them. (I hope to correct that here, in this blog – and share some names of both Finnish women and men who are too underrated for the sporting performances they put in. Look for it.) The other thing is is that Finland is still largely a winter sporting nation, where its athletes are given far more attention than the summer sporting crew.

I’d like to see more attention paid to coaches as well, because athletes do not get where they are without their coaches. I hope that is something else I have time to rectify, seeing how I am a coach, I feel we all deserve a little more recognition for the hours we put into shaping tomorrow’s stars. 😉

I guess I can sum it up by saying I had high expectations for Finland at the Rio games, but I suppose I was poisoned by the media hype. The team will come back and reflect, do better and make space (hopefully) for the up-and-comers. The future is theirs.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Newton Pinheiro permalink
    August 23, 2016 2:12 am

    I am Brazilian and I LOVE FINLAND. I URGE to have an answer: why Finland was too bad in Rio 2016? What happened to Suomi last decades at olympic sports? If you take a look the ranking of gold, total medals, in every Olympics, Finland ALWAYS had a good position. Since, I believe, +- ’80s, it has been very bad. Even so, if you look total medals (gold, silver…) since the first Olympic, Finland still has a very good position. WHAT HAPPENED? Don’t they invest in sports, anymore?

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