EUSA Insider:

Joel Naukkarinen

Age:                  26
Place of Birth:  Anjalankoski, Finland
University:        University of Eastern Finland (FIN)
Sport:                Rowing                                                                                      Published 22 November 2019

How and why did you get involved in Rowing?
I started rowing after rational consideration. I was actually involved in boxing first. I trained a lot and that's why I had good endurance and I was strong, but way too slow for boxing. It didn't work in real life in the same way as in Rocky movies, not at all! After all, I was thinking that my abilities would fit to rowing much better and decided that rowing will be the sport where I could try reach my limits and aim high.

What do you study, and how do you balance your study, training and competition?
I started my seventh year in medical school at University of Eastern Finland. Rowing is my first career and medicine like an important hobby besides it. I have 2-3 training sessions (3-5 hours in total) almost every day and study about 3 hours daily. Medicine is very interesting, I learn a lot every day and that's really something when I can get my thoughts away from rowing. I've noticed that I'm getting much better results in sport when I'm studying a little bit besides it, compared to if I only focused on rowing. And learning so much about physiology – how your body really works and how you can affect that (with exercise, nutrition, sleep) – is quite useful in sports to provide a deeper understanding.

Joel Naukkarinen at EUC Rowing 2019

Tell us about your experiences at the European. Universities Championships 2019. Was it your first time at a EUSA event, and what did you enjoy the most?
I have raced in EUSA events from 2016 and really enjoyed every event and gained great experiences. I've rowed in World University Champs too: 2014 and 2016, 2018 in single and EUC/EUG in single every year since 2016. The atmosphere in university championship races is very, very unique, which I really enjoy.

“It may require some effort, but it will be worth it. Be brave.”

What is your favourite university sport moment?
The atmosphere! I can't underline this enough, but it's the biggest reason why I enjoy racing and meeting other athletes in those races so much. This year it felt especially special to meet all friends and race against them again and to finish only 0,16s away from the gold medal. We have such a great positive and competitive climate among rowers.

Next year the European Universities Games are taking place in Belgrade, Serbia. Are you hoping to be there, and if so, what do you hope to achieve?
Definitely yes! That gold medal is the only one which is still missing!

Joel Naukkarinen podium finish at EUC Rowing 2019

What is your message to European student-athletes like yourself?
Be brave enough to do what you really love. You should not just do like others or let the current flow. You can believe that it hasn't been easy to reorganise probably the most regulated university programme like medicine to fit dual career this way. It maybe takes ten years for me to graduate, but every single morning I wake up to do exactly what I want. Stop, think, and do it. Do it differently if that way is better for you. Without compromises. It may require some effort, but it will be worth it. Be brave.

EUSA would like to congratulate Joel for his success at the 2019 European Universities Championships, and we hope to see him next year at the European Universities Games 2020 in Belgrade, Serbia!