Photo: Sami Vaskola
Kristiina Mäkelä, our Olympic Triple Jumper, is back on the field and will be participating in the Berlin Athletics Championships soon. – here is her latest column:
By Kristiina Mäkelä, 3.8.2018
14.31 meters!It took me 2 years to break my personal best (14.24 meters) that I jumped in the 2016 Rio Olympics. I never doubted that I could improve on that, and that is one of the main things behind that new result. You have to believe in yourself no matter how many challenges you have to face. The second thing is to have right people around you who believe in you and guide with you in the right direction. Trust between team members and positive energy are the secret ingredients for great results. It is something that happens when everyone is doing their job well. Problems will occur but pointing them out, talking them through and coming up with the best possible solutions restores the ambience if it’s temporarily gone.
2 years, 2 coaches, 1 knee surgery, tough decisions and many ups and downs. In the spring of 2017 I was feeling strong. I had had many new challenges in training, and it was confusing to fit the pieces together. That strong feeling was quickly gone when my knee suddenly swelled up and I had to have surgery just 2 months before World Championships. I had fantastic team so we worked hard and I was back on track just in time and jumped decent result but did not qualify for the finals. I was motivated to show what I can do the following year and ready to work hard and patiently for the World Indoors and European Championships 2018.
But during a 2017 autumn training season I realized that I wasn’t working hard enough. It was not because of laziness or motivation. I felt like my coach was scared of making me work properly after the surgery. Problems started when it was needed to increase my effort levels in training. My body could not take it – I suffered from different pains, and could not follow the program. There was a lot of talking and we tried to find solutions but eventually the best but hardest solution was to find a new coach.
I completed the indoor season alone while I looked for new coach. One day at training my friend told me about a coach that I didn’t know before. I got his phone number made a call to arrange a meeting. I had good feeling walking home from that meeting. We started working together in the middle of March and I got the hang of his ideas rather quickly. We noted that there was not much time before summer season, so we focused on few main things, and would do more after the summer.
New coach– I like my new coach, Tuomas Sallinen, a lot. He is visibly confident, gets things and decisions done and he’s not scared to deal with problems. If these things sound weird to mention I highlight them because I didn’t have them before. I am a confident leader type and I can’t stand bad management. In athletics, you have to do everything yourself so there is a lot to manage – from information sharing with the team, training camps and schedules. I take the lead if things are not going well and no-one else is allowed to do them. It is energy intensive and I want to focus fully on daily athlete routines. I need the coach to be stronger than me and manage things so we can talk and make decisions while I can trust that everything is taken care of. It is great to have found such a person!
In only 4 months, my coach has lifted me up from injury risk zone to my personal best level. We have worked on power in right places in a right way, and he has quickly solved what works for me and what doesn’t. I’m quick learner when I’m told what to do and how to do it the right way. Cooperation and the right mindset are the keys, and now is the time to open some doors.
Summer 2018– This summer season started with an Ok result of around 13.50 meters in bad weather, but I knew that I was able to jump much further – and so did my coach. I jumped the required standard for European competitions in my third competition at my home town, Orimattila. I went home with a big smile, with a 13.95 meters result. I was tired after that day and the next competition was in a week’s time. I didn’t recover well, so I was far from 14m in the next meet in Joensuu. It is quite normal in the triple-jump that results within single and different competitions vary a lot, so I knew everything was fine, but I was thirsty for 14 meters and more.
We spent the next 2 weeks training to maintain in shape for the big competitions – the Kalevan Nationals and the Europeans. My body needed it and I felt so much stronger, and this time it was also visible. In the Nationals I jumped 5 out of 6 times over 14 meters, improving my personal best twice. This was the best competition of my life so far with the following results: 13.59 14.06 14.15 14.30 14,19 and 14.31 meters. I had’ t done anything extraordinary but that day, but I just found the right jump. I didn’t try too much or correct anything, I just let myself go and my legs worked the results almost effortlessly. I had known that I can jump far and I was finally able to show it.
Aiming high for Berlin – This is only the beginning! In few days I will be competing in European Championships in Berlin and I know that everything is possible. I have dared to aim for the medal all this time even when I had to change coach, so I haven’t changed my goals. One has to aim high to get there and it’s working!