Pressure just gives me energy

Krista Leppänen is a 32-year-old Finnish national team player. Her international career have lasted already over a decade.

“I started playing in the Finnish national goalball league already in 1998. Couple of years after that I was called to the national team roster. I made my championship debut in the 2006 World Championships. It was a valuable experience although I spent the games mostly in the bench, which was also the case in my first Euros a year later in Turkey.

I had started to train seriously from the start of 2007 and hard work paid off in the 2009 European Championships. For the first time I was in the starting trio and played center. Ever since then I have been one of the important players in the national team, although I wasn’t a great goal scorer.

One of my dreams came true as I scored an overtime goal in the Paralympic qualification tournament in Turkey 2011. At the time nobody expected anything from our team as our coach was just changed. There have been three national team coaches during my career.

After our latest home games, the 2014 World Championships in Espoo, Katja Heikkinen ended her international career which left a big hole to our team. Our attacking force reduced heavily. The 2015 European Championships was a big disappointment for us but maybe we learned some new lessons after our bitter quarter final defeat. I think we are now stronger both mentally and playing-wise.

Krista Leppänen

Couple of years ago I adjusted my training volume as I noticed I had trained too hard and rested too little. I changed the rhythm and it profited quickly as I developed into a better player and goal scorer. Nowadays I train five times a week plus muscle health activities. It isn’t easy to combine top level sport and working in two shifts. Usually I do physical training in the morning. I might go jogging at 5am, which might sound silly for someone but I really enjoy just running there free as a bird.

One of the most difficult things in trying to put goalball and work together are the weekend training camps. Sometimes I haven’t been able to work it out with my employer but I’m blessed to have such great work mates who have always supported me by changing shifts if needed. Also my employer have supported me a lot during my career, so big thanks to that direction as well.

The first thing that comes to my mind when thinking the home games in Pajulahti is that we don’t have to travel far this time. It brings a smile to my face to think that I get to play in the A Division Euros in home soil for the first time in my career. I feel I’m truly ready to face any challenge that comes to our way in the tournament. I’m ready to fulfil my role as a goal scorer, play maker and trying to spread joy and good spirit to my team mates. In February I got a heavy flu which brought me down but after that I have luckily been able to fully prepare for the Euros.

I believe we can go far in the tournament and get to enjoy the support of the home crowd. There is a positive atmosphere in the team and we look forward to the games. The tournament itself don’t bring any pressure to me but I’m trying to build some pressure for myself because that’s the way I get even more energy and willing to win!”

There will be total of 22 blog texts published in the Pajulahti 2017 blog, one text every week until the 2017 IBSA Goalball European Championships on 18–22 of September. Each week there will be a different writer. New blog text will be published every Wednesday.