2021 started on an inspiring note in Europe Eurasia, thanks to the Special Olympics Finland rhythmic gymnastics team who weathered snow and ice in an unusual yet exciting outdoors training session. As January saw the number of new cases of Covid-19 decreasing in Finland, the Tampere Sisu Sports Club allowed its members to resume face-to-face outdoor training. Needless to say, the athletes eagerly jumped at the opportunity to get back to training after months of lockdown.
Mari Mieskonen, Special Olympics coach since 2014, often invites her rhythmic gymnastics team to outdoors training sessions in the summer and enthusiastically embraced the challenge of organizing a winter edition. Similarly, her gymnasts were all very excited to work together again and jumped at the chance to join their coach in this extraordinary class. “There were times when I was starting to get a little cold, but the movement helped us keep warm and active!”, says Special Olympics Finland gymnast Anniina Hassinen. “Rhythmic gymnastics is easy to practice outdoors, even in the snow”, she continued “but we didn’t use our competition instruments as were worried about them breaking due to severe frost!”.
With most of the face-to-face training sessions cancelled in 2020, getting back to top form will be challenging for both coach and gymnasts, who will have to work out more intensely and while wearing masks!
Due to restrictions, only athletes under the age of 20 are allowed to attend face-to-face training sessions at the moment, while their older teammates are training via Zoom. Coach Mari Mieskonen hopes that everyone will be able to get back to a normal training schedule by the end of 2021. She added, “It’s positive that now we have many different ways to do a sport-specific basic workout, but we still can’t rehearse and hone competition programs as much as we used to. This is certainly a challenge when it comes to the team’s competition and ranking goals.”
Clearly if the immense challenges posed by the snow and the current pandemic cannot stop coach Mari and gymnasts like Anniina and her team then nothing can!