Kirsi Nurmi is a passionate orienteer who wants to reach the top in her field. This 22-year-old from Vaasa is also studying medicine in Gothenburg – and already has plans for her retirement.

Today, I spent two hours running through Espoo, Otaniemi and Tapiola in the wind and snow. The weather was pretty nasty, but it never occurred to me to skip training – orienteering is my passion.

If you want to be a top athlete, your life revolves around training 24/7. I’m happy to make these so-called ‘sacrifices’, as I feel orienteering gives me more than it takes. I see them as choices rather than sacrifices. I’m really proud to be able to call myself an athlete. And if I’m going to fully invest in something, I want to succeed. I want to see how good an orienteer I can become. I used to be a competitive swimmer as well, but didn’t have time for both – and quitting orienteering wasn’t even an option.

I think it’s healthy to have other things in your life besides sports, even though sports set priorities.

But I do need options in life, as my orienteering career won’t last forever. That’s why I applied to study medicine. I eventually settled on Gothenburg, as it was the best choice for orienteering. There’s some great terrain for training and the university is extremely supportive of my sports career. I’m from Vaasa and completely bilingual, so I don’t have any problems studying in Swedish. I think it’s healthy to have other things in your life besides sports, even though sports sets the priorities.

Better every day

I train the way my mum, Maritta, wants me to – she’s my coach. The mother-daughter relationship naturally poses its own challenges. We’re both strong personalities, but we’re able to speak honestly about anything. That helps, and I think the closeness of our relationship is ultimately an asset.

My training has become increasingly professional. We’re continually incorporating new things – with consideration, of course. I’m always trying to optimise balance, as rest and nutrition play an important role alongside training. Still: every day you can do everything a little bit better.

“Better every day” is probably my father Jukka’s motto, too. He’s my role model for working life. Jukka has been at VEO throughout its 25-year history. He says that he still enjoys going to work every day. That’s a great attitude, and also says a lot about VEO’s workplace atmosphere and values.

Future plans

Even though I’ll be in a different industry, I intend to take the same approach to my work as a doctor. The more you put into your job, the more you’ll get out of it – and the time you spend at work adds up to a big part of your life.

And there’s also life after work. I’ve still got a long way to go before retirement, but I’ve already given it some thought. I’ve always dreamed about living in Australia. I’m going to move there with my husband once our future children have left home. Then we’ll establish a old folks’ home for crocodiles!

Kirsi Nurmi

  • Born: 8 September 1992, Vaasa, Finland
  • Lives in: Gothenburg, Sweden
  • Website
  • Other: One of several young athletes that VEO supports. VEO strongly believes in Kirsi’s quest to become a world-class athlete!


  • Gold: Long distance, Junior World Orienteering Championships (2012)
  • Fourth: Sprint and relay, Junior World Orienteering Championships (2012)
  • Gold: Finnish Middle Distance Championship D20 (2011)
  • Silve: Finnish Relay Championship D20 (2012)
  • Bronze: Finnish Championships: extra long distance and sprint D18 (2009) and long distance D16 (2008)