IG's John Crumlish is in northern Europe this week, visiting gymnastics clubs. His first stop was Voimisteluseura VSH in Helsinki, Finland.
IG's John Crumlish is in northern Europe this week, visiting gymnastics clubs. First stop: Helsinki, Finland
Once a world power in men's gymnastics, Finland is in the process of devising a system that hopes to develop high-level coaches and subsequently more world-class gymnasts, national team coach Timo Holopainen said.
A statue of Russian Tsar Alexander II, whose many titles included Grand Prince of Finland, covered in snow in Helsinki
"We are try to reach a better level, like the British team," said Holopainen, who also coaches six members of the Finnish senior national team at the Voimisteluseura VSH club, which he founded in 1997.
Holopainen notes the progress made by the British men since the 2003 World Championships in Anaheim, where Great Britain and Finland placed 23rd and 27th, respectively. A little more than three points separated the two teams in Anaheim. Great Britain won the bronze medal at this summer's London Olympic Games.
"In Anaheim, we were quite the same, but then the British (makes whooshing noise)," Holopainen said. "In Britain there are also only four or five clubs, but they made some good changes in their system. We're trying to do the same. We also have five cities and, if we put in more money for new coaches in all of them, maybe we can raise our level."
Voimisteluseura VSH is the home club to several of Finland's most successful international competitors. The club's top gymnasts include Tomi Tuuha, the 2010 European vault champion; Markku Vahtila, who placed seventh on rings at the recent FIG Challenger Cup of Ostrava; Petrus Laulumaa, a floor exercise and vault finalist at the 2012 FIG Challenger Cup of Maribor; and Kasper Holopainen, the 2012 North European all-around bronze medalist and 2012 Finnish national all-around champion.
Holopainen said he is optimistic that Finland can achieve better team results ahead.
"We hope to build a team like Great Britain has now," he told IG. "Like the British system, it takes about 10 years."
Read more about IG's visit and the Finnish men's program in an upcoming issue of International Gymnast magazine.
Next stop: Tallinn, Estonia!