Monika Mikkola: Success, progress and new challenges

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all had an amazing start to the fall. I’ve (again) kept myself very busy. On my last post, I told you how I was prepping for the World Championships and how I really wanted to qualify Finland to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Well I am very glad to tell you that I DID IT! After one of the toughest weeks of racing I have ever done and the hardest medal race I’ve ever sailed, I finished the 4th overall and secured Finland a spot to the Olympics!

I don’t think I’ve ever been this happy about coming 4th. Finishing this close to the top three this year is a good sign that I’m going in the right direction. I always want to do better, and it would have been a dream come true to be on the podium, but it just wasn’t my time yet, and I’ll do everything I can to be up there next time. To be honest getting a medal from these World Championships was only a wild dream, my goal was actually to be inside the top 15. To go into the medal race in 5th and sail my way up to 4th in the overall standings was more than I could ask for, and I’m extremely proud and happy about my result.

When you prepare for something for months you automatically put a lot of pressure on that thing. I, along with every single one of the other 1500 athletes, desperately wanted to perform well at these World Championships. I can’t even begin to describe the relief I felt after I crossed the finish line on that last day of racing. All that preparation, balancing training and recovery, making my own plans, doing what I thought was best and believing in what I was doing, those are probably the reasons why I was able to sail at my best at the most important event in my career so far.

I only had a few days after the worlds to get home and relax, before I jumped on a plane to Japan. Still overwhelmed and not fully recovered from the worlds, we started training in Enoshima. We trained for two weeks and then it was time to race again. I struggled a lot in training and during the racing, and I couldn’t push as hard as I wanted to. I wanted to give my 100%, but I just had nothing left in the tank. I luckily realised it early enough and decided not to take anything very seriously on the water but try and have fun on land. When you spend all your time racing against the top 1% in the world, it’s easy to forget to have some fun too. In the end, this Japan trip turned out a lot better than my first visit to Japan last year, so I’m pleased with that. Me and Japan, we are bonding slow and steady.

Okay people hold on to your hats now. I have one more MAJOR thing to share with you guys. I, Monika Mikkola, who swore I’d never get back to school after graduating high school, started studying at the University of Exeter three weeks ago! How did this happen!? Well as I said, sailing full time against the top 1% in the world is brutal. It is very easy to lose perspective of everything, really, if you only focus on one thing.

At the end of last year, I thought a lot about going back to school and did a lot of research on universities around the world. I came to the conclusion that I did not want to stay in Finland, but I wanted to stay in Europe. I wanted to study in English and since I’ve spent a lot of time in the UK, it was an obvious choice for me to look at universities there. I applied back in January, and now, 9 months later I have moved to the UK, and I am very happy! I’m studying Psychology with sport and exercise sciences, and I’m enjoying every single lecture (the 8 am lectures a bit less but who’s asking…). When it comes to combining sailing and university, sailing will always take priority. Exeter University has a very good sports program and I’m lucky to be part of it. The British Sailing Team girls have kindly invited me to train with them in their team base in Weymouth, so laser training is in order too.

To sum it all up, I’m very happy about the progress I’ve made this past year and I can’t wait to get better. Also, very excited about this new challenge, which will hopefully be the perfect distraction from trying to sail boats fast when needed.

I hope you’re all as happy as I am, and anxiously waiting for summer again!


CCEA and Monika Mikkola signed a sponsorship agreement already in 2015. The goal is to support Monika on her way to the top in sailing and towards to the Tokyo Olympics.