Finnish junior athletes can´t wait for the competition to start

-I´m very excited. It´s such an amazing experience to run in the world championships in front of my home audience, says sprinter Samuel Purola. All the athletes present at the World U20 Championships briefing event in Tampere share these feelings.

Purola, together with around twenty other athletes aiming for the U20 championships in July participated in the briefing event in Tampere. The focus of the briefing was on practical matters as well as getting ready for the competition.

-What a great feeling it must be to compete in front of my home audience. I get my energy from it, pole-vaulter Saga Andersson agrees with Purola.

Purola and Andersson as well as hurdler Viivi Lehikoinen are all athletes who qualify for the European championships for adults next summer. Thus, the competition in July is the most important one for Lehikoinen this season.

-I am more excited about the junior championships. With adults it´s more about gaining experience, whereas junior competitions have different goals and people you know around you. In junior competitions you can meet with your friends from abroad and the competition is more equal, says Lehikoinen


Purola: I don´t set goals for myself

After a great indoor season Purola has continued with his training with success and is very motivated. He is also set to succeed in the world championships in July.

-After the indoor season I have trained my basic condition. Now the training is less intensive. I am joining a training camp in Tenerife on Saturday. It´s my first training camp in the southern Europe this far. I am very intrigued, says Purola.

Last summer Purola ran 100 and 200 metres 10,31 and 20,84. He took home a medal from both performances at the U20 European championships. The young runner is careful about what to expect from this summer, yet he finds himself to be a possible threat to Tommi Hartonen´s 100 metre Finnish Championship record of 10,21.

-I don´t set myself any limits. If I am fully honest, I´m not sure either what my condition will be like in the summer. Competitions in the beginning of the summer will show what my performances in July could look like. I´ve improved myself during training quite a lot and could break my own records, Purola thinks.

Purola has followed his father and trainer Mika Purola´s good advice within a successful training program.

-When you have a good program it´s useless to change it. Now that in the past few weeks the training hasn´t been as intensive my condition has rocketed.

Andersson: Time for new poles

Andersson won the Finnish championship in Hesinki during the indoor season by jumping 440. After that training has been efficient with visible results. Andersson is approaching the summer with top condition, which calls for new poles for the new season.

– Training this spring has gone great. I have acquired more strength and speed. My jump technique has improved the most. The goal is to jump with 16 steps instead of 14 this summer, Andersson says.

– The current poles are sufficient for training but during the Finnish championships I jumped with the stiffest pole I had, which means new ones are necessary this summer. Even the grip height has risen 5-10 cm with a slow pace. I feel the jump has better continuation and rhythm with a higher grip.


Lehikoinen: Improvement in running and technique

Also Lehikoinen has had a positive direction in his training. During the indoor season she focused on training and on finishing her upper secondary school final examination. She attended less competitions to not burden herself too much with too many responsibilities.

The plan worked. She finished her final exams successfully and now she can focus on a more efficient training to get ready for the competition season.

-I am joining a training camp in a week. Since the training there is more intensive, I will gain more confidence for the competition. 400 metre hurdling requires competitions and training to get results, Lehikoinen explains

-I´m not so sure about my own condition. All has gone well during practice and my running and technique have improved.


Väänänen: Goal set on a medal

Hammer thrower Kiira Väänänen is not shy to admit that she is set on getting a medal at the world championships in Tampere. Along with Purola and Lehikoinen, Väänänen has already collected some metal for her trophy closet from junior championships. Two years ago she gained third place at the U18 European championships.

-I am aiming for the podium. I don’t want to go into a competition thinking I would settle for eight place. I know that if I do well, I have a chance to get a medal, says Väänänen.

Getting a medal at the junior World championships is one goal, but Väänänen is also aiming for other merits.

-Since I was a little girl I´ve dreamt of throwing over 70 metres. With a 3kg hammer it was not possible but with a 4kg one I´ll make it, Väänänen announces.

Kiira Väänänen