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Tuuli Merikoski

Tuuli Sisko Merikoski
Born November 22, 1967 Tampere

Executive Masters in Sports Organization Management (MEMOS) 2007, University of Lyon
Specialist Qualification in Management 2001, Sport Institute of Finland
Master of Arts 1998 (general linguistics), University of Helsinki

Director of development for top-level sport education 2011–, Helmi Business and Travel College, Helsinki
Expert advisor on dual career planning for athletes 2001–11, Finnish Olympic Committee
Executive director 1999–2011, Cultural and Sports Association of Finnish Vocational Education and Training, SAKU
Sports secretary 1998, Cultural and Sports Association of Finnish Vocational Education and Training, SAKU
Top athlete 1987–94, Finnish Athletics Federation

Board of the Finnish Olympic Committee 2012–
Chairman of the board 2014–, Finnish Foundation for the Promotion of Athletes’ Professional Education
Board member 2014–, Urhea Foundation , Metropolitan Sports Academy
Board member 1998– Tampereen Pyrintö basketball team

Numerous expert lectures and workshops in sports and educational organisations, many articles on combining sport and study and athletes’ career planning.

“Dual Career in Finland” in the book Sport, Education and Training in Europe. A dual career for a dual life. 2015.

“Urheiluakatemiasta tukea opiskeluun ja huippu- urheiluun. Akatemioiden tarjoamia mahdollisuuksia ei vielä ole täysin oivallettu (‘Support from the sports academy for study and top-level sport. The opportunities offered by sports academies have yet to be fully appreciated’)” (Together with Jari Lämsä and Asko Härkönen) Liikunta & Tiede 2-3/2009

Memorandum of the working group investigating the financial situation of student athletes, Ministry of Education 2004

“Onnellisen naisen paluu” (Return of the happy woman) in the work Juoksun hurma ja tuska. suomalaisen kestävyysjuoksun kuva (‘The ecstasy and the agony of running. A portrait of Finnish long-distance running’) 1994.

Finnish women’s 800m record (2:00.59) 1991, still standing

Photo: Anu Laitila
Written by Tuuli Merikoski and Olli Siitonen (ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

Pioneering Study and Career Planning for Athletes

In 2001, the Finnish Olympic Committee was looking for their first ever expert advisor on study and career planning. A committee dealing with high level athletes established by the Ministry of Education concluded that studying and other career plans had to be better integrated into the lives of athletes. When all aspects of an athlete’s life are well organised, this will also be reflected in their expected results. I became interested in the job and was encouraged to apply for it. I had previously written on issues relating to all-around management of athletes and their lives in an article for the book Juoksun hurma ja tuska (‘The Ecstasy and the Agony of Running’).

International Conference of Sports for Women in Abu Dhabi, 2015. Photo by Erkki Alaja.

In my application to the Olympic Committee, for the first time I listed my athletic career as work experience, having previously used a more modest wording and said that 800 metres had been a hobby of mine. This modesty is still typical of athletes. Sports offer a great environment for learning and it is difficult to find better work experience than athletics. Employers appreciate the qualities that are both required by and gained from sports, such as determination, discipline, ability to work in a team, and physical and mental strength. Once I landed this “dream job,” I set out to pioneer this brand new branch of the Olympic Committee. The Committee is responsible for the national co-ordination of education and career planning for our top athletes, work which requires collaboration between several parties. I was allowed to work with great athletes and to share their experiences as a director and a career coach. I also worked with different ministries and dozens of educational institutions and organisations, which widened my own perspective on sports and society.

Life as a professional athlete today is demanding in itself, but many athletes are also very ambitious when it comes to their careers outside sports. Arranging guidance for athletes is necessary. Adecco Finland is a partner in the Athlete Career Program of the International Olympic Committee.

During my time on the Olympic Committee (2001-2011), a unique network of local sports and educational organisations (known as sports academies) was established in Finland. The network has a large role in the current structure of competitive sports at the highest level.

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