From Rio to Nastola

Markus Tihumäki is a 23-year-old Finnish goalball player who made his championship debut in the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games.

It has been just a bit over half a year since the Rio Paralympic Games and the IBSA Goalball European Championships are already almost here. The event kicks off on 15th of September in the Pajulahti Sports Institute in Nastola, Finland. I had to think about that for a second: Rio has gone by and Euros in home soil ahead of me!

I was honoured to make my first championship appearance in the biggest event possible, the Paralympic Games. It was a huge experience, although enormous disappointment for the team (Finland, the reigning Paralympic gold medallist finished 9th). I have only just been able to deal with that experience.

Somebody asked me if I have had a hard time to find my motivation after Rio since I got to play in the biggest games so early in my career. Without answering to that question yet, let’s think about those words, “the biggest games” for a while. Yes, with most indicators and in almost every opinion, the Paralympic Games is the most distinguished and biggest event a goalball player can perform in. But the home games on the other hand… We really are going to play the European Championships in our home soil. In a place where I signed my first national team player contract in 2015. In a place where I have been numerous times in training camps. As a matter of a fact, in a place that have become a big part of my life, maybe a second home – so yes, this really is the home games for me.

Markus Tihumäki

We have little over four months to train and sharpen ourselves and our team to the European Championships. I have even shorter time to prove our coaches as a young player that I deserve a place in our squad for the games. Just to think about a possibility to play in a familiar venue in front of a home audience, family and friends, is something special. With that thought, I have no problems finding my motivation and getting ready to seize the moment when the time comes.

We have a good competition inside the Finnish national team. We have ten players and only six of us can represent our country in the European Championships. I can assure you that not one of us is willing to take a step back. We all have a strong desire to prove our quality. I am a 23-year-old guy who has been playing goalball seriously for four years and now I have big things ahead of me: the Home Games with capital letters. That’s truly a big source of motivation for me.

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.