Saturday, May 14, 2016

IOF Athlete of the Month: Marika Teini

IOF Athlete of the Month is revealed! Finnish sprint orienteer Marika Tieni's passion for orienteering is obvious in her hard work and focus, but what else can we learn about her? Read the full article to find out about her thoughts on training, combining studies with sport, her career so far and what she likes to do in her free time.

Name: Marika Teini
Country: Finland
Living place: Joensuu in Finland (is from Säkylä, close to Turku in south west Finland)
Club: SK Pohjantahti
Date of Birth: January 31st 1989
Discipline: Foot Orienteering
Career Highlights: Number eight at sprint European Championship 2012 and third place at sprint race in World Cup race in Poland in 2016
IOF World Ranking: 11th sprint, 59th middle and long

Always finding a way

Marika grew up with five siblings and has learnt to handle challenges and to keep looking forward. There’s always possibilities. Hard work and a strong will to never give up give results.

At the World Cup opening round in Poland she experienced breathing problems during the middle distance race in Sobotka, and had to quit the race. However, the day after she was really back in business, with her best international performance so far: the third place in the World Cup sprint.

– The result means a lot. I had good results from forest races during winter and spring, but especially with the catastrophe in middle distance in Poland I was afraid that allergy symptoms would ruin my summer.

Growing up at the forest’s edge

Marika is from a small town called Säkylä, and grew up in the countryside. She had almost ten kilometres to the town centre and school from the family’s house, situated just at the edge of the forest.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t an orienteering map of that forest because it is a flat area and had a lot of cut down areas and other forestry. But at least there were some arrow-straight forest roads to run along.

She grew up with a big family with one sister and four brothers.

At the age of five or six she started doing orienteering. Her mother comes from an orienteering background. She was the leader of the local orienteering club’s children’s training group. It was mainly activities in the forest, so Marika didn’t start sprint orienteering until the age of 15.

The sprint orienteering wasn’t yet even “invented” when I began. I competed only in the forest until I was 15 years old.

Didn’t give up

She liked orienteering from the start.

During my first competitions I used to spend so long time in forest, just considering my routes really carefully, that my big brother often came to find me because my parents were sure I was lost.

Marika’s club, Eura-Kauttuan Urheilijat, is a small club, but there were some families with kids of her age when she started.

We had a really good time together because we knew each other so well also outside orienteering events. But one by one, the others quit. At the age of 15 there weren’t any other orienteers in my club who would take part in the Finnish Champs, and I decided to move on to a slightly bigger club.

The best performances

Marika has taken part in JWOC two times. Her best performance is a third place from the long distance in Italy in 2009.

In 2009 Marika Teini won the bronze medal on the long distance at JWOC.

Her first race on the senior’s international level was at the EOC in Sweden 2012, where she was 8th in the sprint.

It was totally unexpected to do so well. Before the race, I thought that top 20 would be really good. I was so happy with the result.

– When did you understand you have an extraordinary talent?

– I haven’t yet understood that, she smiles. – I don’t think I’m particularly talented but I love orienteering and have a strong will to develop myself. Whether it’s a competition or just a light training, I always try to focus to navigate as smoothly and effectively as possible.

Favourite orienteering

Her favourites are technically challenging sprints and middles.

– I like it when you have to be fully concentrated all the time and every leg is challenging. I also like technically challenging middle distances.
The 27-year-old athlete’s goal is to see how good she can be in orienteering. She wants to be able to do perfect orienteering runs.

So, I’m not very often totally happy with my competitions or trainings because there’s always something you could have done better. But taking steps forward in my career satisfies me. I will go on as long as I feel motivated to train. At the moment I haven’t been thinking of when I will end my career. As long as it’s fun and I can develop, I will continue training and competing.

Have to do alternative

During the last year she has had two stress fractures. It total, this meant seven months without any running.

Almost every year, I have had some smaller or bigger problems which have forced me to be without running or training for some months, for example hamstring rupture, knee injuries and respiratory inflammations. There have also been problems with overtraining.

She has learnt what she has to do to not get as few days as possible with sickness and injuries.

The biggest change is that I run less. During the training season I had two days each week without running to let my legs recover. And I’m more careful with any symptoms of sickness or leg pain and don’t train if I’m not feeling good.

Living in Kalevan Rasti city

In 2012, she started studying in Joensuu. She and her partner Olli-Markus Taivainen chose Joensuu mainly because of great orienteering terrains.

There’s lots of good maps of both technically and physically challenging terrains near Joensuu.

Kalevan Rasti is the club of Joensuu that has been the leading international club for men the last years, but Marika isn’t running for them.

– We have a strong women’s team in SK Pohjantähti and my team mates are my good friends. So I don’t see any reason to change club.

SK Pohjantähti is one of the best women’s teams in Finland.

Marika is a part time law student.

I don’t know what kind of law I want to work with. I’m studying slowly, as I want to focus on orienteering for now. But I hope to work in court someday.

There is no time for so much studies. About four of five months a year she is away from home on camps.

– In training camps I don’t do a lot except training and analysing trainings and trying to recover. I don’t usually have energy for any extra activities.

Analysing together

Marika and Olli Markus have been a couple for almost seven years. He is one of the best Finnish men. As a junior he become World Champion both in orienteering and ski orienteering. He is also well known for really training a lot.

– We talk a lot about orienteering and analyse trainings together. We seldom train together if you don’t count driving the car to the edge of forest and running a different orienteering training at the same time. And I train a little bit less than him, though he’s no longer training as much as he did during his ski orienteering career.

Olli Markus was sick during the selection races before WC in Poland and didn’t take part there.

He is doing well and is fully focusing on WOC.

Incredible in baking

– What do you like when not studying law or doing orienteering?

– I like reading books and also cooking and baking.

– Things you are very good at outside orienteering?

– Well, when I have the patience to follow the recipe, I can bake pretty good cakes.

– What is only a few or nobody that knows about you?

– My dream job would be to work at an animal shelter, but still I’m studying law. Something went wrong, she smiles. – As my friend once said– I like cats almost more than I like most people.

The Finnish team after Minna

– What kind of changes have you seen in the Finnish team since Minna Kauppi stopped?

– It’s of course strange not to have Minna with us anymore, because she was such a big part of our team. She’s a nice person and also a role model for us. It was inspiring to see her in training and competitions because at her best she was almost unbeatable.

– Why are so many Finnish girls doing so well – there were five of you in the top 15 on the sprint in Wroclaw?

Indeed that was an unexpected result. But during recent years, sprint orienteering has developed a lot in Finland and nowadays we have a lot of challenging sprint races and training races. Also, with the national team, we have analysed and speculated sprint orienteering technique quite a lot.

Marika likes to help and take care of other team mates.

– I don’t think I’m the kindest person in our team. I’m horrible when I have done a bad race, but we have great team spirit in Finnish team and we have a good time together.

Hasn’t run in the Czech Republic

At the European Championships in the Czech Republic, Marika will run the sprint and the middle distance and maybe one of the relays.

My goal is to perform so well that I can be happy afterwards. I don’t have any placement goals, but of course the higher I’m in results the happier I will be.

She has never been in the Czech Republic. The Finnish team had a training camp there just after the World Cup in Poland, but Marika had to cancel that.

I got food poisoning on Monday after the sprint race in Poland and had to cancel that camp.

– How are you preparing, and what’s the goal for the WOC in Strömstad?

I’d like to run the sprint and the middle distance in the WOC. Because of injuries I haven’t been able to train in Strömstad much yet, but our team will be selected in the beginning of July, so there will be time to prepare if I get into the team.

Text and Photo: Erik Borg

[See the original article at Published with permission from the International Orienteering Federation]

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