Maldives - challenge - Beach Pro Tour 2022 - News

EP_Beach Pro Tour_2022_Awarding ceremony-200

There is no English equivalent for the Finnish concept of Sisu, although the all-encompassing word s generally described as a stoic determination, tenacity of purpose, grit, bravery, resilience, and hardiness.

It’s a trait – or bundle of them, rather – that has been of immense value to Finland’s pair of beach volleyball teams, Taru Lahti and Niina Ahtiainen, and Anniina Parkkinen and Sara Sinisalo. For nearly a decade now, since Lahti and Riikka Lehtonen broke onto the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour in 2015, Finland has been knocking on the door of beach volleyball success. Lehtonen would amass nearly $125,000 in winnings – but only one medal, and it wasn’t gold. Lahti would win three medals – two with Parkkinen – neither of which were gold. They’d even stun April Ross and Alix Klineman in the bronze medal match of the Hague four-star in 2019, proving that yes, Finland deserved a spot at beach volleyball’s table of elites.

But to truly belong amongst that venerated tier, a gold medal is required for entry. Sisu was required for entry.

On Sunday afternoon in the Maldives, in what will go down as a historic day for Finland beach volleyball, that gold was earned, and the Finnish Sisu was on display for the world to see. Lahti and Ahtiainen won their first gold medals each on Sunday, beating Americans Emily Stockman and Megan Kraft in the semifinal, then Austrians Katharina Schutzenhofer and Lena Plesiutschnig in the finals, 21-16, 23-21.

Making the day even more special for Finland was what happened directly before, when Parkkinen and Sinisalo, who began this tournament by losing their first set in the qualifier, upset Kraft and Stockman for bronze. After going nearly three years without a medal in a top-tier event, Finland secured two in the same weekend, one of them being the long-awaited gold.

“We rose in so many games and at times from really difficult moments to victories,” Lahti wrote on social media. “We took one moment at a time and showed what Finnish Sisu is. Sisu carried it all the way to victory this time.”

EP_Beach Pro Tour_2022_Awarding ceremony-170

Sunday’s bronze marks the first medal for both Sinisalo and Ahtiainen, and the first since the Hague four-star in 2019 for both Lahti and Parkkinen. Likewise, the silver has been a long time coming for Plesiutschnig and Schutzenhofer, who competed in their tenth event of the season in the Maldives, with varying success. Prior to the Maldives, they had broken pool just twice, at the World Championships – where they took Duda and Ana Patricia to three sets – and a Futures in Baden, Austria. Aside from that, it’s been a grind for the Austrians, a season in which they could have used a little Sisu of their own to continue competing. It’s a good thing they did, winning their first major medal as a team since 2018, when they took gold in the Mersin three-star.

So while there might not be a direct English translation for Sisu, it’s certainly a concept that can be adopted worldwide, from Austria to Finland, all the way to the Maldives.