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I am the Elephant Man
One never forgets how to ride a bicycle… if the saying is true playing football is like riding a bicycle then. It was just that my bike didn’t always work last season. After the reparation it might be too that it is not a brand new one or top of the range machine anymore but I believe it is all about how you ride it. It really is and goes great to be back playing now and it feels like I am younger than for ages.
Even though we have 11 hard sessions a week I took the opportunity to participate Finnish Sportsman of The Year Gala. The appreciation for sport in Finland is rising and should even more so because we have great athletes and sportspeople that are doing great things for the country home and away. Some of our stars can be seen, heard and recognized all over the world, not to mention the excitement, self esteem, patriotism and cultural heritage we can experience through sports as individuals and as a nation. I have the utter most respect for the Gala and Finnish sports so I think it was an honour and duty to participate.
There was no Best Rehab of The Year –category so I was pretty sure that I was not going to receive a sought after Uno-trophy this time again, like I did last year for The Best Sports-Cultural Act of The Year. However, the attention seeking media whore that I am I just couldn’t be without getting on stage this year too ;) I was actually asked and had the honour of presenting The Breakthrough of The Year –prize. No, I didn’t steal the trophy and gave it away peacefully. However, I luckily happened to be in the winning table again. Not because I was sitting next to a wannabe athlete, Alexander Stubb, but because eating the same dry dinner and sharing the runny béarnaise sauce there was this year’s Finnish Sportsman of The Year, Olympic gold medallist Satu Mäkelä-Nummela. Congratulations. Funnily enough, her husband and coach also turned out to be my superior during my military service. It was throughout a good table.
There were many brilliant athletes and sports people awarded during the night and the gala was a great success. Overall, I admire the grace and pride Finnish athletes carry these days in a wide range of sports, for example World Champions Mika Häkkinen, Minna Kauppi and Tero Tiitu. Every successful athlete have to be excellent; an athlete succeeding from Finland have to be outstanding - and usually in many ways. The Gala only strengthened my view about this.
It is important also to remember the people, institutions and safety net around athletes. Ultimately it is an athlete who has made it but it surely is very much easier with a good support. These forces behind the performances, athletes and careers are not just service stations where you add petrol, nutrition and go to a toilet, because I know they are an important part of athlete’s road too. Respect and thank for that and to all of you. However, it is always easier and nicer to talk with other athletes as I believe only an athlete can fully understand another one. However, there was someone else too who tried - and probably succeeded - to understand me during the night. The comedian Krisse Salminen kept “reading” my thoughts to direct television broadcast. Apparently my inside my head I was just singing in the Gala Finnish kids song “One elephant, two elephants, three elephants...”. An hour later she did came back to check my inner thought again and I had gone to 1204 elephants during the gala. How did she knew!
The joke/truth about my higher wisdoms was funny and text messages have kept coming about it ever since. Well, I guess now I don’t just look like the elephant man but I am officially one too.
Aki the Elephant man