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Imagen
Three wheelchair racers approaching the finish line on the track of a stadium

Toni Piispanen

Athletics
1

Biography

Impairment information

Origin of Impairment
Acquired
Classification
T51

Further personal information

Family
Wife Anu, daughters Saga and Unna-Liina
Residence
Helsinki, FIN
Occupation
Athlete, Public Servant
Languages
English, Finnish
Higher education
Sport Management - University of Jyvaskyla: Finland

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
He took up wheelchair rugby two years after his accident. In 2010 he began wheelchair racing.
Why this sport?
"I have always been quick and I wanted a challenge besides wheelchair rugby."
Club / Team
Espoon Tapiot: Finland
Name of coach
Jari Nordblom [personal], FIN, from 2018

International debut

Year
2010
Competing for
Finland

General interest

Nicknames
Rasmus ["I got it from a wheelchair rugby staff person who thought for two years that my name was Rasmus."] (Athlete, 25 Aug 2011)
Hobbies
Public speaking. (Athlete, 20 Aug 2018)
Memorable sporting achievement
Winning a gold medal in the T51 100m at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. (Athlete, 20 Aug 2018)
Most influential person in career
His father. (Athlete, 20 Aug 2018)
Hero / Idol
Finnish boxer Amin Asikainen. (Athlete, 20 Aug 2018)
Injuries
He suffered from a persistent shoulder injury during the lead-up to the 2016 Paralympic Games. In October 2016 he underwent surgery on his right shoulder, and was unable to train until January 2017. (Instagram profile, 01 Jan 2017, 06 Oct 2016; yle.fi, 13 Sep 2016)

In January 2015 he underwent surgery on his left elbow. (tonipiispanen.fi, 01 Feb 2015)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"The best athletes train even when others aren't watching." (Athlete, 25 Aug 2011)
Awards and honours
In 2013 and 2020 he was named Helsinki Athlete of the Year in Finland. (vuosaarilehti.fi, 16 Jun 2020)

In 2019 he was named Athlete of the Year and Para Athlete of the Year by the Finnish Amateur Athletic Association [SUL]. (yle.fi, 12 Dec 2019; yleisurheilu.fi, 12 Dec 2019)

In 2012, 2015 and 2018 he was named Para Athlete of the Year by the Espoon Tapiot athletics club in Finland. (Facebook page, 16 Dec 2018; espoontapiot.fi, 15 Nov 2015)

He received the Para Athlete of the Year award at the 2013 Finnish Sports Gala. (herbalifespotlight.com, 2014)
Other sports
He competed in the Finnish national karate team before his accident. He also represented Finland in wheelchair rugby at the world championships in 2010. (Athlete, 20 Aug 2018; SportsDeskOnline, 22 Mar 2020)
Ambitions
To compete at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. (paralympic.org, 09 Jul 2017; vuosaarilehti.fi, 16 Jun 2020)
Impairment
He sustained a spinal cord injury in an accident at a karate show in 1993 in Lahti, Finland. (Athlete, 25 Aug 2011, 20 Aug 2018)
Other information
TECHNICAL ADJUSTMENTS
In response to placing second in the T51 100m at the 2018 European Championships in Berlin, Germany, in 2019 he made a number of technical adjustments to his racing wheelchair. In order to identify which adjustments he needed to make, he made use of an acceleration measurement device called an accelerometer. "We started by watching the videos, and I did extensive analyses with my team on what needed to be developed. We set out to improve my first 10 metres. We looked at how my chair behaved. The data went directly to the computer, and from there the sensors showed counter-force spikes. We started adjusting the chair to lower those counter-force spikes, and my times immediately improved. We probably made a hundred different changes to my chair and tested the effects of the different adjustments." He went on to win gold in the T51 100m at the 2019 World Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (yle.fi, 12 Dec 2019; kaleva.fi, 07 Nov 2019; olympiakomitea.fi, 01 Oct 2019)

OCCUPATION
He works as a planner for the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture. (Facebook profile, 04 Mar 2020; yle.fi, 12 Dec 2019)

Results

Unit Date Rank
2011 IPC Athletics World Championships (Christchurch, New Zealand)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's 200 m T51 Final 2011-01-22 3
Men's 100 m T51 Final 2011-01-24 2
London 2012 Paralympic Games (London, Great Britain)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's 100 m T51 Final Round 2012-09-03 1
IPC Athletics World Championships (Lyon, France)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's 100 m T51 Final 1 2013-07-22 1
Men's 200 m T51 Final 1 2013-07-26 2
IPC Athletics 2015 World Championships (Doha, Qatar)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's 100 m T51 Heat 2 2015-10-27 1
Men's 100 m T51 Final 1 2015-10-27 2
Men's 400 m T51 Heat 1 2015-10-30 2
Men's 400 m T51 Final 1 2015-10-31 3
Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's 100 m T51 Final Round 2016-09-13 4
Men's 400 m T51 Final Round 2016-09-17 6
World Para Athletics Championships London 2017 (London, Great Britain)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's 100 m T51 Final 1 2017-07-21 2