Tom Pietilä is somewhat of a legend in Sigr's home town of Umeå.
Born in 1954 in Finland to a Swedish mother and Finnish father, Tom would go on to carve out a personal career in sport at international level and also to train and inspire many many fellow sportsmen and women along the way.
An early interest in long distance running led to several youth championship victories in the 1970s. Running gave way to ice hockey where he would rise all the way to the Finnish national team before moving to Sweden to play in the Swedish Elite Series for Björklöven in Umeå. He retired from hockey in 1986 due to a recurring back injury and promptly studied to become a physiotherapist. In this new role he would take care of both the Björklöven and Swedish National hockey teams. He would eventually return to Umeå where he became involved in Umeå Ski Club and helped steer his daughter Maria towards multiple Ski World Cup medals in slalom and giant slalom. In 2007. Aged 53 Tom decided to take up road cycling because... why not?
We at Sigr got the chance to talk to Tom about his life so far.
It was in 2008 after deciding to compete in the cycling race “Vätternrundan” that Pietilä started cycling regularly. He joined Gimonäs Cycling Club and started competing in national, international and later, World championship races. Tom was picking up speed!
In 2014, his daughter about to enter the Sotji Olympics, a heart palpitation caused Pietilä to have a stroke. He was alone in his home when it happened and called for help on his own after being out of it for a couple hours. He was sent to hospital and after many days of tests and a lot of rest, Tom was allowed to return home and begin the long journey towards recovery.
Luckily Tom wasn’t left with any permanent motor injuries, he was however left with a few issues concerning his vision and memory. Tom Pietilä has never been one to quit, and he was soon back in fighting shape.
“The will to come back from the stroke was there from the start but with the huge support from my family, the rehabilitation has gone well. Oh and another thing, a Finn never gives up :)”
Despite the minor injuries he was left with after his stroke, Tom has constantly been working hard to reach his goals ever since. Staying on top isn’t easy though. Pietilä rides his bike up to 900 hours every year from just training, but that’s not all. Tom also does weight training two mornings a week, and during the winter, aside from cycling, he also does long distance ice skating.
Some people find Pietilä’s success especially impressive because of his age. Tom is a fair bit older that the majority of his fellow cyclists and yet, he would probably beat most of them in a race ;) Tom wants to encourage older people who might not believe that they can succeed because of their age.
Tom will continue to inspire and set an example for people of all ages, showing that willpower beats strokes, age and inexperience.
On the 28th of June this year, Tom went on to win the Swedish national championship in the H65 group.
He is unstoppable!
UPDATE August 8th 2019
The legend just got even more legendary! Tom just took GOLD in the Swedish Time Trial Championships!
Our warmest congratulations go out to Tom and I for one am more than a little inspired.
Hopefully we'll be doing some more in depth articles on Tom's tips, secrets for success, training program and eating habits in the future, so stay tuned.
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Tom thank you for inspiration! I had similar experience with stroke and cycling is my way back to enjoy life fully again! Kitos!
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