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MÄKINEN Meri-Maari
Sport Para swimming
NPC Finland   
GenderWomen
Age30
Place of BirthVantaa, FIN
Height1.60 m
Human Interest
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]."
Senior 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)

Competition Highlights (historical)
Paralympic Games (Overall)
Rank Year Event Result
Heats 2012 100m Backstroke S7 1:42.69
Heats 2012 100m Breaststroke SB7 2:02.32
Heats 2012 50m Freestyle S7 40.58
Heats 2016 100m Backstroke S7 1:39.56
11 2016 100m Breaststroke SB7 1:59.79 
10 2016 50m Butterfly S7 44.52 
  2016 200m Individual Medley SM7 DSQ
World Championships
Rank Year Event Result
8 2010 100m Breaststroke SB7 1:57.71
6 2010 100m Backstroke S7 1:40.14
11 2010 200m Individual Medley SM7 4:16.07
  2013 100m Breaststroke SB7  DSQ
Heats 2013 50m Freestyle S7 39.56
  2013 100m Backstroke S7  DSQ
Heats 2015 100m Breaststroke SB7  DSQ
7 2015 200m Individual Medley SM7 3:28.80
8 2015 50m Butterfly S7 44.76
Heat 2015 100m Backstroke S7 1:42.11
Heats 2015 50m Freestyle S7 40.09
4 2017 100m Breaststroke SB7 2:03.51
4 2017 100m Backstroke S7 1:41.78
5 2017 50m Butterfly S7 46.16
1 2017 200m Individual Medley SM7 3:40.11
Heats 2019 200m Individual Medley SM7 3:47.87
Heats 2019 100m Freestyle S7 1:25.88
European Championships (Overall)
Rank Year Event Result
7 2014 50m Freestyle S7 38.91
5 2014 100m Backstroke S7 1:41.68
7 2014 100m Breaststroke SB7 1:58.55
7 2014 50m Butterfly S7 56.09
6 2016 100m Backstroke S7 1:40.26
4 2016 50m Butterfly S7 44.93
2 2016 200m Individual Medley SM7 3:33.00
6 2016 100m Breaststroke SB7 2:02.71
6 2016 100m Freestyle S7 1:27.41
6 2016 50m Freestyle S7 39.35
4 2018 50m Butterfly S7 50.72
7 2018 100m Breaststroke SB7 2:00.47
6 2018 100m Backstroke S7 1:39.54
8 2018 50m Freestyle S7 39.93
7 2018 100m Freestyle S7 1:24.50
6 2021 200m Individual Medley SM7 3:43.43
7 2021 100m Breaststroke SB7 2:04.62
6 2021 100m Backstroke S7 1:40.72
9 2021 50m Butterfly S7 54.55
9 2021 50m Freestyle S7 39.81
10 2021 100m Freestyle S7 1:26.56