Athlete of the Month
Name: Marika Teini
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: 11 sprint, 59 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.
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.
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.
– 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.
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
Previous Athletes of the Month
January 2015 Andrey Lamov (RUS)
February 2015 Michael Johansson (SWE)
March 2015 Tove Alexandersson (SWE)
April 2015 Hanka Dolezalova (CZE)
May 2015 Baptiste Fuchs (FRA)
June 2015 Emily Kemp (CAN)
July 2015 Olli Ojanaho (FIN)
August 2015 Maja Alm (DEN)
September 2015 Anton Foliforov (RUS)
October 2015 Daniel Hubmann (SUI)
November 2015 Gaëlle Barlet (FRA)
December 2015 Ulrik Nordberg (SWE)
January 2014 Hans Jørgen Kvåle (NOR)
February 2014 Daisy Kudre (EST)
March 2014 Andreu Blanes Reig (ESP)
April 2014 Martin Fredholm (SWE)
May 2014 Susanna Laurila (FIN)
June 2014 Catherine Taylor (GBR)
July 2014 Soren Bobach (DEN)
August 2014 Martin Jullum (NOR)
September 2014 Emily Benham (GBR)
October 2014 Svetlana Mironova (RUS)
November 2014 Tim Robertson (NZL)
December 2014 Hana Hancikova (CZE)
January 2013 Staffan Tunis (FIN)
February 2013 Jerker Lysell (SWE)
March 2013 Stanimir Belomazhev (BUL)
April 2013 Davide Machado (POR)
May 2013 Evaldas Butrimas (LTU)
June 2013 Minna Kauppi (FIN)
July 2013 Oleksandr Kratov (UKR)
August 2013 Cecilia Thomasson (SWE)
September 2013 Jana Kostova (CZE)
October 2013 Mårten Boström (FIN)
November 2013 Tatiana Rvacheva (RUS)
December 2013 Olga Vinogradova (RUS)
January 2012 Alison Crocker (USA)
February 2012 Morihiro Horie (JPN)
March 2012 Polina Malchikova (RUS)
April 2012 Ionut Zinca (ROU)
May 2012 Tobias Breitschädel (AUT)
June 2012 Ivo Tišljar (CRO)
July 2012 Matthias Kyburz (SUI)
August 2012 Marika Hara (FIN)
September 2012 Lizzie Ingham (NZL)
October 2012 Tonis Erm (EST)
November 2012 Marit Wiksell (SWE)
December 2012 Tatiana Ryabkina (RUS)
February 2011 Olga Novikova (KAZ)
March 2011 Olli-Markus Taivainen (FIN)
April 2011 Emily Benham (GBR)
May 2011 Søren Saxtorph (DEN)
June 2011 Tove Alexandersson (SWE)
July 2011 Olav Lundanes (NOR)
August 2011 Thierry Gueorgiou (FRA)
September 2011 Erik Skovgaard Knudsen (DEN)
October 2011 Lauri Kontkanen (FIN)
November 2011 Annika Billstam (SWE)
December 2011 Anna Füzy (HUN)