Who is Who
Tuulikki Salmenkylä

Tuulikki Salmenkylä, W45, FIN


(We asked this interview on October 28th, 2007, but, we don't know why, it only arrived on June 13th, 2008, together with Arvo Majoinen's interview, when we already had, many weeks ago, scheduled all interviews. We decided to publish it as soon as possible. We managed to get a photo of Tuulikki Salmenkylä, but we were not well succeeded. So we entered a picture that we took in last WMOC showing Erkki Luntamo (bib 5033) coming to the finish line. Erkki is a hero to Tuulikki and she did the translation Finnish-English for Erkki's interview, the first one in this column.)

Your World Masters results in W40 were quite excellent: 4th in Italy 2004, 11th in Canada 2005, 11th in Austria 2006. Curiously you got a result not so good at home: 41st in Finland 2007. What happened there?
Actually, I don't think my results were that good, compared to victory in W35 in 2000 in New Zealand. The challenge I had throughout my time in W40 was a very disturbing health related disorder that started right after the WMOC in Australia in 2002 and undiagnosed dramatically bothered me for 4 years (October 2002-2006). It was finally diagnosed in October 2006 and has been treated ever since. However, semi-successfully only as of July 2007. I am an epileptic whose attacks weren't the usual kind but instead lasted hours with tremendous physical fatigue afterwards. Figuratively speaking I was running a night-time marathon with a heart rate of approx. 135 (normal being 35-40) on a fortnightly basis which makes the physical strain maybe more understandable. I am still obliged to take it rather easy as the medication hasn't been working 100 %. Nothing special happened in last year's final. I did make a mistake of approx. a minute or few but it was my very poor physical condition that started deteriorating in 2002 and has slowed me down since. My strength in the finals has always been almost faultless orienteering. So now I was very disappointed with the mistake I made!

What are you aiming for your debut in W45 in Portugal 2008?
I'm looking forward to enjoying a good terrain and courses with faultless orienteering. And I wish that I have the force to finish "upright" as physically I am still in the nadir.

Who else is favourite to win your class?
Provided that we can enjoy technically challenging courses I am happy to try for another gold medal but I still don't count myself anywhere near the favorites. There are always a few strong Finns, Norwegians, Russians and Swedes.

Please, indicate the highlights of your sporting career before 2004.
- 4th of December in 1993 when my long-term orthopedician Sakari Orava told me that I could start running again after a break of 8 years. In less than half an hour I was out running. (1985 was my last season, in 1986 I still tried but the pain in my ankle was unbearable. Two years later I was diagnosed with a serious necrosis and the prognosis was that I would never run again. During 8 years of swimming and gym-work I could however, rebuild enough of bone tissue and I could start anew with caution.) I've never taken a painless step since (or since December 1985) but I certainly have enjoyed each one of them. Pain is just a physical feeling but it can never beat the emotional feeling I get when running in the woods.
- In terms of success, of course the WMOC victory in New Zealand in 2000 which was once again result of faultless orienteering and 3 months of prior physical rest due to leg problems.
- My top years were over in a rather short period of time and I didn't achieve anything of importance. But of course the junior years and national championship victories remain as golden memories and base for any later achievements.

What season was the best for you?
My competitive strength has always been the ability to physically overdo myself. All late 1999 I had to rest as the hamstring I had pulled several times in the previous three years posed a risk too high for any running. But in the WMOC early 2000 I took everything there was to take out of my system without compromising orienteering precision.

Why Finnish are so good in orienteering?
We have a multitude of technically challenging terrains. We don't easily give up - some call it stubborness. We fight rather than fear. We wouldn't have had 90 independent years unless there were extraordinary skills in the front line (see Erkki Luntamo's interview).

Who are your heroes in this sport?
My parents who initially taught me how to and never forced their advice since. They also have an incomparable track record of success in orienteering and basketball, professional, and social contexts and they raised a family of four kids. A lawyer-architect couple who played and refereed basketball, precided and managed the finances of the club, broke their hip and knee joints and had them reconstructed and never stopped orienteering. So how is it possible that their youngest never figured out that extreme pain, fatigue or child-bearing should hinder physical activity?
The third incomparable hero is of course Erkki Luntamo who is the best possible encouraging example to all orienteers and non-orienteers that life is worth a lot of physical exercise.
Among the younger generation, Oyvin Thon and Annichen Kringstad who in their top years and best performance were unbeatable.

In the last WOC, Paula Haapakoski, Heli Jukkola and Minna Kauppi won the gold medal in Relay. Do you know any of them? How did you live that race and that triumph?
It was the second time in row that they won so of course it was great. However, I think the double gold in the individual race for Heli and Minna was far more exquisite and will certainly be tough to beat or repeat [they both ran a LD Final in a winner time of 1.20.17]. On a personal level I can't say I'd know them. But we cooked and served them, the rest of the team and sponsors a celebration dinner together with my husband.

What is the secret to be a winner?
Confidence, condition and capacity.

What kind of training do you use to do?
Now all winter almost nothing at all. I haven't been running since WMOC in Ruka due to leg and other health problems. Unfortunately the winter was bad to the skiing (which never was my favorite form of exercise) season remained short.

How many technical trainings and official races do you have in a month?
In the summer time I would do orienteering twice a week and run a few more times in the forest when possible. For years now, I have only been able to run on soft surfaces so it has only been running in the forest or on piste finlandaise. For this reason I will not participate in the sprints, which unfortunately have been placed on tarmacs or cobble stones even in Portugal - a real shame.

Do you have a coach? Or do you plan trainings by yourself?
I've always had too much of a can do attitude and never was willing to listen to coaches. I should have - I've finally figured out. I always knew how to exercise but I never learned to rest. Now due to epilepsy I am obliged to rest. I no longer have a choice.

Do you have any special program of training in order to improve your performance at the moment of WMOC?
Modest rehabilitation to strengthen the hamstring.

Do you have any special care with what you eat?
I am not pedantic at all with my food other than it must be delicious (I can easily skip a meal if the taste is not ok) and freshly made. Dinner of course needs to be accompanied with wine. I always prefer fresh fish and seldom eat pork but no restrictions apply. I am really looking forward to the seafood offering on the Portuguese coast line.

Do you have orienteers in your family?
I was born with orienteering as my parents Pirkko and Juhani Salmenkylä had already been practising for more than 15 years and there were three elder siblings who started before me. I opposed to this discipline till the age of 8 or 9, I have been told by my mother, and any form of sport for that matter. She thought that I'd be different from the others and never take any interest in any sport. Then one day I had asked whether she'd go for a run with me. Then there was no end to it. My sisters and brother are all orienteers (two of them will be in Portugal with their families). My husband "had no choice" (as Brit Volden and Oyvin Thon stated in Switzerland in 2003) but to start and our two sons, 7 and 10, have also already initiated their international careers.

What does your family and your friends think about your activity? Do you feel they support your sporting ambitions?
Whether they support? Absolutely. And since 1993 when I could start running again I quite honestly haven't really cared what they thought - psychologically it has been that important to me. The kids have slowed me down just a little but fortunately my husband has been a strong supporter. Now however, due to health issues, I can't say I have ambitions in any sport on other levels than beating myself.

How did you discover orienteering and for how long have you practiced it?
Like I said, I wasn't thrilled with it 36 years ago but then I tried and there was no return.

What do you enjoy most in orienteering?
Tranquillity of nature (apart from some boisterous wild boars in Hungary and unnatural pitbulls left as camp guards in Australia - I never knew I could run through a bramble thicket that fast) and the possibility to challenge one's full physical capacity without compromising orienteering in a variety of terrains.

Which best events have you attended?
- The regional kiddy competition in my first year. It was held in a terrain I thought I knew well. The course was signalled in the terrain and drawn on the map. The idea was to prick the controls on the right spots on the map. The problem was that the first and last 200 m were the same and I took the wrong direction in the terrain and followed the correct on the map. There was an animal cemetery which I knew well early on along the route. So all the controls before the cemetery in the terrain would also have to be on the map before it. There were a lot of controls on the first 300 m...
- The victory in one (1st or 2nd day) of the competitions in O-ringen in D12 in 1975
- The last position the day after. I had not made any mistakes. Then there was an out-of-bounds area and I kept coming to the border of it all the time no matter how well I tried to correct. I had to really refigure out how I would constantly meet the signalling. It was a large area well marked on the map and in the terrain - I thought. After approximately an hour inside the forbidden area I finally figured out that I had managed to get inside early on without seeing the signals and when I then saw the signals I stayed inside wanting to avoid getting in. It certainly made me more humble (at least for a short while) and I did run well the remaining days.
- All these events certainly raised my own bar: I knew I could do it, I just shouldn't be so bloody stupid. Being very disappointed especially right after success certainly makes you feel it in the guts and the performance level will be raised for the future events.

What kind of terrain do you prefer to do orienteering?
Earlier, when I was physically strong, any type of terrain would do. Different type, different challenge. Now definitely, the more technical, the better.

What is your date of birth? And where do you live?
I was born on February 12, 1963 in Helsinki where I also live.

What is your job? How can you coordinate your professional and sporting life?
Due to epilepsy I haven't worked since mid-2004. In 2004 and 2005 I was in really bad shape in terms of attacks and the accumulated fatigue. And the recuperation still continues but I trust that I can be fully back in business after some additional time. Earlier I was managing my own society in the wine business that I acquired in 2002 and I was its managing director already since 2000. Long hours, efficient running and no rest was the rhythm in the previous six years when I was involved in different international businesses.

What are your hobbies besides orienteering?
Golf, food and wine. I also used to play basketball as a junior but at the age of sixteen I figured out that I had stopped growing up so I focused on orienteering.

Can you suggest a book, a film or a music?
Let me put Vivaldi's Four Seasons on to give this one a thought. I can go from rock to jazz to classical and back, it is a matter of feeling. But if I pick out one piece it certainly is this. (..)

(Interview by Manuel Dias. Questions and answers by e-mail. Received on 2008 Jun 13th.)


[2008-06-20] Carlos Monteiro, WMOC Event Director

[2008-06-20] Dieter Wolf, M55, SUI

[2008-06-19] Timo Teinila, WMOC speaker

[2008-06-19] Jorge Simões, WMOC Event Director assistant

[2008-06-18] Blair Trewin, M35, AUS

[2008-06-18] Mariett Matias, WMOC Media responsible

[2008-06-17] David May, WMOC Senior Event Advisor

[2008-06-16] Gottfried Tobler, M60, AUT

[2008-06-16] Tuulikki Salmenkylä, W45, FIN

[2008-06-16] Arvo Majoinen, M80, FIN

[2008-06-14] Fernando Costa, WMOC Marketing responsible

[2008-06-13] Sarah Dunn, W40, GBR

[2008-06-12] Santos Sousa, WMOC planner

[2008-06-11] Sigurd Daehli, M55, NOR

[2008-06-10] Alexandre Reis, WMOC mapper and planner

[2008-06-09] Nick Duca, M40, CAN

[2008-06-07] Tiago Aires, WMOC mapper and planner

[2008-06-06] Irina Stepanova, W55, RUS

[2008-06-05] Luís Sérgio, WMOC mapper

[2008-06-04] Ari Kattainen, M50, FIN

[2008-06-03] Rui Antunes, WMOC Mapping coordinator

[2008-06-02] Jon Musgrave, M45, GBR

[2008-05-31] Jacinto Eleutério, WMOC Course coordinator

[2008-05-30] Rune Carlsson, M70, SWE

[2008-05-29] Åke Jacobson, IOF President

[2008-05-29] Augusto Almeida, POF President

[2008-05-28] Jurate Uleviciene, W55, LIT

[2008-05-26] Vladimir Ioffe, M70, ISR

[2008-05-23] José Fernandes, M45, POR

[2008-05-21] Ezio Paris, M55, ITA

[2008-05-19] Gabriella Györffy, W40, HUN

[2008-05-16] Alberto Minguez, M40, ESP

[2008-05-14] Tomas Zdrahal, M55, CZE

[2008-05-12] Paulo Becker, M45, BRA

[2008-05-09] Ingrid Roll, W70, NOR

[2008-05-07] Jerzy Parzewski, M55, POL

[2008-05-05] Hugh Moore, M60, AUS

[2008-05-02] Martin Checkley, M55, GBR

[2008-04-30] Etienne Bousser, M60, FRA

[2008-04-28] Andreas Grote, M40, SUI

[2008-04-24] Liudmila Labutina, W65, RUS

[2008-04-22] Freddy Sillien, M60, BEL

[2008-04-17] Tomislav Kaniski, M35, CRO

[2008-04-14] Eero Tuuteri, M85, FIN

[2008-04-10] Lena Nordahl, W80, SWE

[2008-04-07] Albano João, M45, POR

[2008-04-03] Tom A. Karlsen, M55, NOR

[2008-03-31] Kayoko Sakai, W55, JPN

[2008-03-27] Finn Arildsen, M45, DEN

[2008-03-24] Anne Nurmi, W45, FIN

[2008-03-20] Peo Bengtsson, M75, SWE

[2008-03-17] Alida Abola, W50, LAT

[2008-03-13] Matti Railimo, M60, FIN

[2008-03-10] Cornelia Eckardt, W35, GER

[2008-03-06] Joaquim Sousa, M35, POR

[2008-03-03] Birgitta Olsson, W75, SWE

[2008-02-20] J. Salmenkylä, M75, FIN

[2008-02-18] Torid Kvaal, W65, NOR

[2008-02-15] Mykola Bozhko, M55, UKR

[2008-02-13] Pavlina Brautigam, W45, USA

[2008-02-11] Ferran Santoyo, M35, ESP

[2008-02-08] Sole Nieminen, W80, FIN

[2008-02-06] Stefano Galletti, M40, ITA

[2008-02-04] Gillian Ingham, W50, NZL

[2008-02-01] Jörgen Mårtensson, M45, SWE

[2008-01-30] Tom Hiltebrand, M50, SUI

[2008-01-28] Baiba Ozola, W40, LAT

[2008-01-25] Eddie Harwood, M55, GBR

[2008-01-23] Marje Viirmann, W45, EST

[2008-01-21] Alexander Afonyushkin, M40, RUS

[2008-01-18] Paulina Majova, W55, SVK

[2008-01-16] Björn Linnersjö, M65, SWE

[2008-01-15] Lillian Røss, W85, NOR

[2008-01-10] Tapio Peippo, M55, FIN

[2008-01-07] Elizabeth Brown, W90, GBR

[2008-01-04] Erkki Luntamo, M90, FIN

 
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