Emilia Soini questions the criteria for the athlete grant: †The Olympic Committee does not appreciate the EC medalist†| Sport

Emilia Soini questions the criteria for the athlete grant aE

The brightest gem of Finnish squash Emilia Soini28, took the ninth Finnish championship of his career in Helsinki at the turn of last week.

Soini, who started the year in the USA with three tournaments, will only stay in his home country, as he will continue his professional matches in a week and a half at the platinum level tournament in Chicago.

– It was nice to be able to try out for the WC after working on some things with the coach, Soini states.

Soin’s new coach is an American Luke Butterworthwho in his time has piloted, among other things, the national squash team of Paraguay.

Soini reveals that he is pursuing Tuula Minetti (born Myllyniemi), no less than 20 Finnish championship records. In order to derail Minetti, who won the championships in 1983, 1985–2000, 2002 and 2008–2009, Soini needs 12 more championships to become the sole squash number one among the WC gold medalists.

Outside of athlete grants

However, Emilia Soin’s headache at this moment is not the number of Finnish championships, but remaining the lone queen of the sport without an athlete grant.

The squash driver from Espoo is upset that he did not qualify for the second time in a row as a recipient of the Ministry of Education and Culture’s athlete grant, even though last fall the sport was accepted for the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

– It’s a bit strange when I’m an EC medalist in the sport. I heard from an athlete colleague, a badminton player From Kalle Koljosenwho also had not received a grant, that the European Championship is no longer an evaluation criterion.

– That also stinks a little, when there are quite a few people on the list who get pretty big sums. They are good at the European Championship level, but at the World Cup level they are not as good as many others. There still seems to be a face and genre limit, wonders the outspoken Soini.

The Los Angeles Olympics don’t start until next summer after the Paris Olympics.

– Still, it’s surprising that an Olympic sport and a European Championship medalist, and not a single cent of money comes in. I don’t know then, on what basis others get money. I should probably change sports, likes Soini.

The system of the Squash Olympics is unknown

Soini sees that squash’s Olympic status motivates many to train more than before and even to come back to the sport.

– The Olympics has been a dream of many since childhood. There is now a good boost in squash in the Yankees.

Soini says that he thought about continuing his career a year ago, but squash’s entry into the Olympic family influenced him to continue at least until 2028.

– There has been speculation that there would be a 32-player schedule at the Olympics, in two countries. There has been no official information. Of course, if that were the case, I should have a pretty good chance there, Soini reflects.

Soini is 32 years old at the time of the summer games in Los Angeles, and in his opinion not too old to play at the top.

– Ten years ago it was said that 28 years old is at the top, but today it is said that even 32 years old would be prime for an athlete. Retirement has moved on in squash later. I claim that I am quite fit at that age.

†The 26-year-old is no longer anything.â€

Soini had previously received a grant of 6,000 euros until he turned 26, when he was no longer considered a “young athlete†based on the criteria.

– When you are already 26 years old, there is nothing left. There it went!

– When squash got Olympic status, I thought that the grant would be a sure bet. But I don’t know if the criteria have changed in a year or two. Kalle Koljonen received a support of 10,000 euros for the European Championship bronze when he went to the (Tokyo) Olympics last time, but I didn’t see it, compares Soini to the incident.

Soini has not been in contact with the Ministry of Education and Culture regarding the grant issue. He said that he had heard about the criteria through a few acquaintances.

– I don’t know what it would do to call there. Of course I can call there and at least question the reasoning. There is hardly anything that can be done about it. For an athlete of my kind, that grant would have been a lot of money, and that way makes quite a difference.

Heikkinen: Soini and squash will receive enhancement support

Director of the Olympic Committee’s Top Sports Unit and 2011 World Ski Champion Matti Heikkinen explains to that the 2023 and 2022 results were taken into account in the 2024 grant preparations and criteria. At this point, squash was assessed as a non-Olympic sport (Olympic sport in Los Angeles 2028, not yet in Paris 2024).

Heikkinen says that the criterion for a grant of 10,000 euros in a non-Olympic sport is that the athlete is a medal candidate in the following World Cup competitions in the sport. In addition, the evaluation of non-Olympic sports always takes into account the special features of the different sports, such as the national and international prestige of the sport, the level of the different competition categories, as well as the number of countries and athletes participating in the competitions.

– In Olympic sports, a coaching and training grant of 10,000 euros can be awarded to athletes in individual sports who have established their level in the top 16 in Olympic sports and eight among the best in Paralympic sports, Heikkinen continues.

In other words, the results of the athletes’ EC competitions are not taken into account in the scholarship matter, unlike the results of the World Cup competitions.

– We have positive things now and towards the future. Squash is also involved in the development process of new Olympic sports, especially towards the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics. Emilia Soini and squash will receive top sports enhancement support for this year, emphasizes the sports boss.

The top sports unit supports “development sports” such as cheerleading with 25,000 euros, softball with 40,000 euros, skateboarding with 30,000 euros and squash with a total of 9,000 euros, of which about one third is earmarked for Emilia Soini.

Grants are important

Soin’s sports career is financed by sponsors and to a small extent the Squash Federation. He is happy to receive the career grant of the Sportsmen’s Promotion Foundation, which in his case is 3,000 euros.

– If I had received a grant from the Ministry of Education and Culture, my career grant would have been halved. Now I at least get a full career grant, which is a nice thing.

In Espoo’s sports gala, Emilia Soini has often been nominated for the city’s Athlete of the Year, and last year she became Espoo’s Role Model of the Year, which she says she values ​​very much.

– The Olympic Committee does not appreciate the EC medalist, but thanks to the city of Espoo that it does, Soini says.

Matti Heikkinen, director of the elite sports unit, states that the scholarship discussion shows how important scholarships are in the everyday life of athletes.

– Together with the successful and responsible everyday work of the sports community, we are trying to influence the fact that the scholarship pool grows, Heikkinen says.