This training center is located by the lake in the suburbs of Lahti, just over 100 kilometers northeast of Helsinki, the Finnish capital. This is an enchanting place that is reminiscent of the landscapes of Jacques-Cartier National Park. Everything is done to allow top athletes to give the best of themselves during their stay.
The center includes gymnasiums, soccer fields, an indoor and outdoor athletics track, tennis courts, a swimming pool, a training room and a center that offers sports science services. There is also an arena for hockey and in the winter there are plenty of trails for cross-country skiing. A total of 900 people can sleep on site in different types of accommodation.
What differentiates this site from several similar ones around the world is that all services are accessible to people who practice parasports. Since 2015, the Center has been recognized as the Paralympic training center of Finland.
When we add a service or build a new building, we make sure it meets the needs of Paralympic athletessays Tero Kudrikoski, President and CEO of the Pajulahti Olympic and Paralympic Training Centre.
Experts from the Finnish Paralympic Committee are involved right from the planning stage, which limits surprises and unnecessary expenses. In recent months, altitude training halls have been built and can be used by para-athletes.
The relationship between the Pajulahti center and Paralympic sports dates back to 2005. At that time, the Finnish women’s goalball team was one of the best in the world. One of his biggest rivals was the Canadian team. Canada had won the gold medal at the Paralympic Games in Athens and the Canadians had eliminated the Finns in the semi-finals by a score of 4-2. ‘coaching.
Once in Pajulahti, the two teams did not have to worry about transport, accommodation and meals; elements that increase anxiety, especially in people with disabilities. Athletes could focus on improving their performance.
Since then, the Finnish National Paralympic Committee has been working closely with the Center to develop several projects.
It’s important for Para athletes to feel includedsays Riikka Juntunen, Secretary General of the Finnish National Paralympic Committee.
The etiquette that comes with practicing elite sport and being an Olympian’s equal is also important for these athletes..
The partnership between the two Finnish organizations has intensified. Without having one of the biggest Paralympic committees, Finland wanted to make its mark on the international scene. For the past ten years, an international competition has been organized in Finland every January.
In 2018, the leaders sat down with the European Paralympic Committee to organize the European Paralympic Youth Games. This competition was organized for the first time in 2011, but there were still no specifications to help the organizing committees.
Finland has offered to put in place the right procedures to help the next countries that want to embark on the adventure. The 2019 edition was a great success and everyone wanted to come back in 2021.
There are many large Paralympic committees in Europe, but the continental structure is not as well developed as in the Americas with the Parapan American Games, for examplesays Juntunen.
We hope to provide a spark to grow the European movement. Youth competitions are important. It is often their first international experience that can lead them to the Paralympic Games
The first sports activities in Pajulahti began in 1929, at first exclusively for women and offered only in the summer. The first buildings were erected in the late 1930s.
After World War II, a sports institute was established and several new activities were added. This strong expansion has made it possible for Finnish athletes of all levels to take advantage of the facilities.
More than 300,000 nights are spent in different types of accommodation per year and only a third of these are reserved for high-level athletes. This financial contribution makes it possible to finance the activities of the Center and to achieve its objectives.
The former women’s sports center has been transformed into a national and international sports institute, which wants to participate in the promotion of the health and exercise of Finns, to develop the training of sports coaches and to be at the forefront of return Finnish elite athletes both regular and disabled among the best in the world.