I am Jussi Lotvonen, born in 1981 para-athlete from Finland. I have been active in sports since I started playing ice hockey at the age of four. I played hockey in the Finnish division, until in 2006 was diagnosed with cancer during a surgery for a sports injury. A tumor was found in my leg, which had to be amputated. Today, I feel privileged to be healthy and alive. Even though the diagnosis and consequently the inevitable changes in my life were tough to deal with as a young guy, sports saved me. During the 1-year rehab for my leg, I was inspired to pursue competitive sports in para-athletics.
I returned to ice hockey, which started to take an even bigger role in my life: the motivation to represent Finland was so high. Since 2007 I have represented Finland three times in the World Championships and once in the European Championships in para hockey. Last year I became interested in paratriathlon, which will be an Olympic sport in the 2016 Paralympics in Rio. My goal is to compete there.
I wanted to challenge myself in the field of sports. Paratriathlon fits my way of practicing hard, so it is a challenge I enjoy taking on. Triathlon as a sport demands your year-round focus. My family – my spouse and our two children Eetu and Ella – have given me their full support, which is essential in my situation. It is not easy combining work, training on a competitive level and trying to fit in quality time with your family as well. Luckily I have been able to gather a great support group to help me reach my goals. Next year I hope to start competing in the World Cup and European Championships.
I feel I can be a role model to everyone. Serious illnesses and being disabled do not have to mean your life was cut short, but rather the start of a new life. I want to show with my example that you can do anything if you have the willpower. Every day I am living my dream as a para-athlete, a father and a role model. Maybe one day I can include an Olympic medalist to that list as well.
Accomplishments in sports:
2008 Boston USA, World Championships bronze in para hockey
2009 St Petersburg Russia, European Championships gold in para hockey
2010 Montreal Canada, World Championships silver in para hockey
2012 Tampere Finland, World Championships silver in para hockey
2013 Seinäjoki Finland, Finnish Championships gold in 100m, 200m and 500m
Head coach: Kim Kivelä & Panu Lieto, physical therapist: Tutoris Oy