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4822-Meri-Maari Makinen photo

Meri-Maari Makinen

Swimming

Biography

Impairment information

Type of Impairment
Cerebral Palsy
Origin of Impairment
Congenital
Classification
S7, SB7, SM7

Further personal information

Residence
Vantaa, FIN
Occupation
Athlete
Languages
Finnish, Swedish, English

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
She began swimming at age seven, and began competing at age eight with Cetus club in Espoo, Finland.
Why this sport?
"My physical therapist suggested that I try swimming and I immediately liked it."
Club / Team
Vanders: Vantaa, FIN
Training Regime
"In worse weeks, I can only practice five times a week. In normal weeks, I swim seven times and do two strength exercises in the gym. In hours, this means eight to 16 hours [per week]."

International debut

Year
2005
Competing for
Finland
Location
Denmark

General interest

Hobbies
Skiing, spending time with dogs. (Instagram profile, 10 Feb 2021)
Memorable sporting achievement
Winning silver in the SM7 200m individual medley at the 2016 European Championships in Funchal, Portugal, and competing at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. (Athlete, 13 Aug 2018; uimaliitto.fi, 21 Aug 2020)
Most influential person in career
Her former physical therapist. (Athlete, 08 Dec 2017)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"Training makes success." (Athlete, 08 Dec 2017)
Ambitions
To compete at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. (vantaa.fi, 20 Jun 2019)
Impairment
She was born with spastic hemiplegia on the right side of her body. The condition is due to complications she experienced at birth. (Athlete, 13 Aug 2018, 04 Apr 2011)
Other information
RETURNING HOME
In 2018 she returned to her hometown of Vantaa, Finland, having spent the previous seven years in Turku training with coach Hanna Pathos at the Raisio Urheilijoissa swim club. "I lived away from Vantaa for several years. I am proud that I can represent my hometown again. That and also the fact that the city of Vantaa has been involved in supporting my dreams through the sport." (vantaa.fi, 20 Jun 2019; uimaliitto.fi, 01 Jan 2019; vanders.fi, 09 Nov 2018)

MENTAL HEALTH STRUGGLES
In 2020 she spoke openly about her struggles with mental health issues. "I had experienced physical symptoms from stressful situations. There was exhaustion and sleep symptoms. Especially as a young [Para] athlete, it exposes a lot of mental health challenges when you are constantly different from others. You have to be strong with your own mind all the time. As a Para athlete it can be hard to get coaching, and you can feel like an extra thing coaches have to pay attention to on top of other activities. Sometimes there are a lot of moments when you feel very alone. There is a lot of pressure on appearances, especially in our sport. The body is very much on show. I myself have learned that weight is one part of sport and you have to be able to take feedback on it, but in bad times when you're tired, they get under your skin. It is important to have sports psychologists through which you can get tools in your own mind. There should be more services in general. It should be self-evident that as an athlete you know where to contact and where to get help." (yle.fi, 03 Oct 2020)

Results

Unit Date Rank
IPC Swimming World Championships Eindhoven 2010 (Eindhoven, Netherlands)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 100 m Backstroke S7 Heat 1 3
Women's 100 m Backstroke S7 Final Round 6
Women's 100 m Breaststroke SB7 Heat 1 4
Women's 100 m Breaststroke SB7 Final Round 8
Women's 200 m Individual Medley SM7 Heat 2 6
London 2012 Paralympic Games (London, Great Britain)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 100 m Backstroke S7 Heat 2 2012-08-30 8
Women's 100 m Breaststroke SB7 Heat 1 2012-09-01 5
Women's 50 m Freestyle S7 Heat 1 2012-09-04 8
2013 IPC Swimming World Championships (Montreal, Canada)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 100 m Breaststroke SB7 Final 1 2013-08-13 9999
Women's 50 m Freestyle S7 Heat 2 2013-08-14 11
Women's 100 m Backstroke S7 Final 1 2013-08-15 9999
2015 IPC Swimming World Championships (Glasgow, Great Britain)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 100 m Breaststroke SB7 Heat 2 2015-07-14 9999
Women's 200 m Individual Medley SM7 Heat 1 2015-07-16 8
Women's 200 m Individual Medley SM7 Final 1 2015-07-16 7
Women's 50 m Butterfly S7 Heat 2 2015-07-17 9
Women's 50 m Butterfly S7 Final 1 2015-07-17 8
Women's 100 m Backstroke S7 Heat 1 2015-07-18 9
Women's 50 m Freestyle S7 Heat 1 2015-07-19 11
Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 100 m Backstroke S7 Heat 1 2016-09-08 7
Women's 100 m Breaststroke SB7 Heat 2 2016-09-10 6
Women's 50 m Butterfly S7 Heat 1 2016-09-12 5
Women's 200 m Individual Medley SM7 Heat 2 2016-09-13 9999
Mexico City 2017 World Para Swimming Championships (Mexico City, Mexico)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 100 m Breaststroke SB7 Final 1 2017-12-03 4
Women's 50 m Butterfly S7 Final 1 2017-12-05 5
Women's 100 m Backstroke S7 Final 1 2017-12-05 4
Women's 50 m Butterfly S7 Heat 1 2017-12-05 6
Women's 200 m Individual Medley SM7 Final 1 2017-12-07 1