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10971-Amanda Kotaja photo

Amanda Kotaja

Athletics

Biography

Impairment information

Origin of Impairment
Congenital
Classification
T54

Further personal information

Residence
Helsinki, FIN
Occupation
Athlete
Languages
English, Finnish

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
She took up the sport at age 12 at a sports camp in Kuortane, Finland.
Why this sport?
She was keen on sports at school and her goal then was to become a Paralympic gold medallist. "I was able to apply and use my imagination on how to perform the different types of sports. My teachers were really wonderful. The best part of sports was getting to be with others. When I was 12, there was a trial camp for those interested in Para athletics. At the same time, the Finnish Para athletes were also camping there and I was able to try a chair owned by a national Para athlete."
Club / Team
Vampulan Urheilijat: Finland
Name of coach
Jussi-Pekka Kurtti [personal], from 2018
Training Regime
She trains at the Leppavaara Sports Park in Espoo, Finland.

International debut

Year
2011
Competing for
Finland
Location
Switzerland

General interest

Hobbies
Skiing, cooking, baking, reading, listening to audio books, yoga, pilates. (Instagram profile, 04 Feb 2021; aamulehti.fi, 19 May 2020)
Hero / Idol
Finnish wheelchair racer Leo-Pekka Tahti. (Athlete, 17 Oct 2011)
Injuries
In mid-2016 she was sidelined for one month after undergoing surgery to remove a kidney stone. (ess.fi, 21 Jan 2017)

Her 2015 season was disrupted by a prolonged mycoplasma infection. (yle.fi, 22 Sep 2015)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"Big races are great. There are so many different people there, united by the same passion. The highlights of my life have been when I have been able to give an insecure or shy child or adult some kind of glimpse of light, inspiration, or faith in themselves and in their lives. Those moments are great and valuable. I want to be able to give hope to those who have none." (cp-liitto.fi, 29 Jun 2020)
Awards and honours
She was named Sportsperson of the Year at the 2015 Satakunta Sports Gala in Finland. (yleisurheilu.fi, 31 Jan 2016)

She was named the 2014 Young Athlete of the Year by the Finnish Paralympic Committee. (sport.fi, 28 Jan 2015)
Ambitions
To compete at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Outside of sport, she hopes to pursue a career as a psychologist. (hs.fi, 20 Jun 2018; aamulehti.fi, 19 May 2020)
Other information
COMPETING WITH MEN
Throughout her career she has participated in competitions against men, mainly due to the lack of female wheelchair racers in Finland. "I was the only woman for a long time. Sini Paukkeri joined us a few years ago, but at 18, of course, she is at a different point in her career than I am. I'm only getting to compete against men in my country at the moment [2020]. Of course, I'd love to have a start line full of women, but I'm used to racing and training with the boys. I've learned to compete with men. I often wonder why there aren't more female Para athletes in Finland. Are we protecting girls, or is it about Para sport being too difficult? There may be prejudice in clubs, there are fears that a Para athlete will be hurt, but we just move differently. My dream would be that one day there will be full tracks of female Para athletes in Finland." (aamulehti.fi, 19 May 2020; cp-liitto.fi, 29 Jun 2020; anna.fi, 22 Nov 2020)

RUNWAY TRAINING
When she began the sport as a child, she trained on an airport runway before moving on to the athletics track. "I started on winding country roads with my dad running next to me. Vampula [Finland] also has a private airport, the owner of which is a friend of our family. I got permission to train there on a mile-long runway, and it was an amazing training ground." (cp-liitto.fi, 29 Jun 2020)

Results

Unit Date Rank
London 2012 Paralympic Games (London, Great Britain)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 400 m T54 Heat 1 2012-09-03 3
Women's 400 m T54 Final Round 2012-09-03 6
Women's 800 m T54 Heat 2 2012-09-04 6
Women's 100 m T54 Heat 1 2012-09-08 2
Women's 100 m T54 Final Round 2012-09-08 4
IPC Athletics World Championships (Lyon, France)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 200 m T54 Semifinal 1 2013-07-20 3
Women's 200 m T54 Final 1 2013-07-21 2
Women's 100 m T54 Semifinal 1 2013-07-24 3
Women's 100 m T54 Final 1 2013-07-25 2
Women's 400 m T54 Semifinal 2 2013-07-26 6
Women's 400 m T54 Final 1 2013-07-27 5
IPC Athletics 2015 World Championships (Doha, Qatar)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 200 m T54 Final 1 2015-10-22 1
Women's 200 m T54 Heat 1 2015-10-22 1
Women's 100 m T54 Heat 1 2015-10-23 2
Women's 100 m T54 Final 1 2015-10-24 2
Women's 400 m T54 Heat 2 2015-10-27 6
Women's 400 m T54 Final 1 2015-10-27 8
Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 100 m T54 Heat 2 2016-09-08 3
Women's 100 m T54 Final Round 2016-09-09 6
Women's 400 m T54 Heat 2 2016-09-11 5
World Para Athletics Championships London 2017 (London, Great Britain)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 100 m T54 Final 1 2017-07-23 1