In 1986 the head of YLE’s sports programming suggested Ilkka Nummisto to participate in The World’s Strongest Man competition in Nice. Nummisto told Markku Suonenvirta about the event and the two men decided to enter the competition.
”Everybody else thought we were crazy.” Ilkka Nummisto
Nice was a turning point. Nummisto was injured badly while lifting a car, but even though his arm took quite a while to recover, his decision was final. Nummisto and Suonenvirta would form The Strongest Man in Finland Association.
By 1987 everything was ready and the association was up and running. The two men had no idea what kind of a future laid ahead of them.
Preconceptions were unavoidable at first, but as the association showed that wholesome and pure competition was the main agenda, the doubts cleared. The competitions garnered a devoted following and a group of supporters that keeps on growing every year. A year after the association was founded the competitions were televised by YLE TV2, allowing viewers at home the chance to tune in. These days the broadcasts can be up to three hours long.
Over time the contestants have specialized in strongman training in particular and thus given the sport a more professional label. Pure strength is no longer enough; physical fitness and stamina are required to succeed in the competition. Agility and speed also provide better odds of success.
Until the mid-2000’s the winner of The Strongest Man in Finland traditionally went on to represent Finland in the World’s Strongest Man competition. The level of contestants has always been high and the many pioneers who have won or placed well internationally are a proof of that. Today the Finnish winners are eligible to participate in international qualifying tournaments, which in turn can pave the way to the World’s Strongest Man Competition.
Finland’s Strongest Woman competition was first organized in 2000.
Finnish sisu is still alive and kicking today.
“We’ve always been good at this. When you believe that it can be done, anything is possible.” Ilkka Nummisto
History is made every year, when the strong compete against each other. Veteran contestants meet promising newcomers and future strongmen. The most important thing is active training and personal goals. When you set the bar high enough, you end up exceeding your own expectations.