The City of Vaasa has entered into sponsorship contract with two high-level athletes. Joni Mäki skied several distances at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing and won Finland a silver medal with Iivo Niskanen in the men’s cross-country skiing team sprint. Nader Khalili swam at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
– The cooperation means that the city will be visually represented in the outfits that the athletes wear to competitions, that the athletes make an agreed number of posts on their social media channels about matters related to the cooperation, and that the athletes participate in the events of the city within their training and competition schedules, says Leena Forsén, Director of Communications and Marketing.
Mäki has had a challenging season – aiming for the Milan Olympics
The past ski season has been a challenging one for Joni Mäki right from the start of the training season.
– This season, I didn’t reach the goals I was aiming for, but I did manage to achieve some good results, Mäki sums up.
– The next season will be largely about building the foundations for the next two seasons of big competitions. The main goal for the next season is to have an intact training period and after that to keep up a good level of performance.
Mäki is aiming for success in international competitions and of course the Winter Olympics in Milan in 2026, but the National Championships will also be an important part of the next season.
– It’s nice to cooperate with Vaasa, my childhood hometown. It is in this town that I have taken the first steps of my athlete’s career and got the internal burn to move, Mäki smiles.
Khalili aims to meet the entry time requirements for the Paris Paralympic Games
Para swimmer Nader Khalili is a member of the national A-level para swimming team. His record for swimming 200 meters freestyle holds the place 13 in the official international rankings.
– After a difficult start to the year, Nader has been able to compete in some high-level competitions and has broken the 200 metre freestyle B-limit for the World Championships in Manchester. The A-limit is not too far either, says Anne Kulmala, Khalili’s mother.
Khalili’s goal for the ongoing season is to break the A-limit for the World Championships, and, of course, breaking the entry time limit for the Paris Paralympic Games next year.
– Entry time requirements for World Championships and the Paralympics are tough, but we are heading in the right direction. Nader has been able to set new records in almost every competition, and his technique and speed have improved, so the goal is realistic, Kulmala adds.
The Paralympic Committee has selected Khalili to represent Finland at the Virtus Global Games 2023 in France in early June. The event includes competing across ten main sports. In addition to the swimmer, a javelin thrower and a table tennis player will represent Finland in the games. Khalili’s long-term goal is set for the 2028 Paralympic Games in Los Angeles.
– We are very happy to cooperate with the City of Vaasa. The city offers good training facilities, as the pool has a 50-metre track, and the gym is in the same building. The cooperation will allow Nader to participate in several international high-level competitions in which he could achieve the representation at the Paris Paralympic Games. We appreciate that a para-athlete gets to represent his hometown in such an important way, says Kulmala.
Mäki and Khalili are important role models for the children and young people
– It is great that we can work together and support talented athletes on their way to these significant competitions. Mäki and Khalili are important role models for the children and young people of Vaasa. Leading by example, they encourage children and young people to move and play sports, says Mika Lehtonen, Director of Sports Services.
– Mäki and Khalili are also both boldly pursuing their own dreams as professional athletes, and it takes hard work and commitment to reach the top level. This is also an important message for children and young people,” adds Forsén.
Mäki’s contract runs until the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan and the total cost of the sponsorship agreement for this period is €14 000. Nader Khalili’s contract will run until the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris for a total sponsorship of €5 500.