Focus on... Nanna Vainio
International badminton player Nanna Vainio has moved to Loughborough University from her native Finland, with the aim of climbing up the world rankings and having a shot at qualifying for the London 2012 Games.
At the same time Nanna will also be working hard for an Information Management and Business Studies degree at the University.
It was through a fellow Scandinavian badminton player that Nanna was made aware of what Loughborough could potentially offer her. Nanna explains:
“My friend Nico Rupinen, who plays on the European badminton circuit, has just finished his second year here. He told me a lot of good things about the sporting environment here, and that academically it’s really good.”
“So far in my first year it’s been really good and I’ve enjoyed my time here in Loughborough. Looking at my badminton I’ve really improved, and academic wise I’ve passed my first year.”
Nanna points to her progression being down to the University’s High Performance Centre for badminton which includes a purpose built hall to international standard.
Sometimes it can be a difficult transition to train and study in a new country. But Nanna has been fantastic. She has fitted in really well to our training environment, always on time and puts in maximum effort. She is a perfect student to work with.
The Centre also has a full time coach, Mike Adams, a former England international, who Nanna explains has brought the best out of her:
“Mike’s coaching has been really important to me and my training programme is really good. I’m a very physical player, so Mike has worked hard on my skills and technical components.”
The next 12 months will be crucial for Nanna’s development in the sport, especially as she needs to climb up the world rankings and pass current Finnish number 1 Anu Nieminen if she is to be in with a chance of qualifying for London 2012. Nanna states:
Basically in the next year I will have to play in 15 international tournaments in order to get a good world ranking. I will also be playing in the German Badminton League. I have to do this in order to be number 1 in Finland. Nieminen’s ranking is currently better than mine. She is very experienced and has played in three Olympics, so I need to be better than her.
Therefore a fascinating battle between the up and coming Nanna Vainio and the experienced Anu Nieminen for the number 1 spot in Finland will play out over the coming months. But after finishing as the runner up in the recent Slovenia International tournament, Nanna is demonstrating that she is up to the challenge.
For Nanna to compete on the international badminton circuit will mean a lot of time on the road away from Loughborough and her studies. However as a 2012 Sport Scholar, funding and support from the University will provide Nanna with the opportunity to compete at ranking tournaments. Nanna explains:
“The funding I receive means that they pay my tuitions fee which is really good, so there is one less thing to stress about. I’m going to be away at tournaments so financial support to help me do this is great.
“Plus I’m going to look at options to see if I can stretch my degree and maybe do a bit less next year as it’s an important year for my sport. It’s great that the University gives me these opportunities.”
According to Nanna’s coach, Mike Adams, she has all the credentials to make it to the top. Mike says:
“Sometimes it can be a difficult transition to train and study in a new country. But Nanna has been fantastic. She has fitted in really well to our training environment, always on time and puts in maximum effort. She is a perfect student to work with.
“Although Nanna is at the beginning of her journey, she has a great chance. For one of our badminton students to get to the 2012 Games would be phenomenal for us and the University.”
Finally from Nanna, the hard work and sacrifices would be worthwhile if she could qualify for London 2012. She states:
“It would be awesome! Playing in an Olympics is the biggest thing you can do in badminton. It would be a dream come true.”