Anastasiia Burkova wants to become Finnish champion
Finnish Table Tennis Championships will be held in Tampere on the weekend. The competition will reveal Finnish representatives in Budapest WC in April, but this time the event is quite interesting for other reasons.
One explanation of interest is women's singles, included with a new name. She is a 20-year-old Russian citizen Anastasiia BURKOVA, who, after more than two years of permanent residence in Finland, has been granted the right to participate in championships.
First-ranked BURKOVA offers a tough resistance to the ruling champion Annika LUNDSTRÖM and internationally ranked Finland's top player Anna KIRICHENKO. There are already five SM golds on KIRICHENKO'S list of merits.
BURKOVA was a junior top player in Russia and has won the country's top 24 cadets (less than 14 years) tournament. The opportunity to study information technology in English brought her to Finland.
“Finland is a very advanced country in this area. In addition, studying is free,” Burkova explains.
Studies began in Tornio, but after a year the Russian moved to Haaga-Helia to Helsinki. At the same time, it was possible to practice with Finnish top players at the Ruskeasuo Training Center.
“I think I have continued to develop in Finland. At least my forehand opening is better nowadays.”
In Finland, BURKOVA first played the men's first division, but then went on to the main league. In her team in this season, Kosken KAIKU, the Russian has improved her playing all the time. In the last tournament she defeated among others Samuli SOINE, who is placed fifth in a fresh national ranking.
“Playing against men was a new experience, but it's fun. It is also very good to practice with them.”
BURKOVA would like to represent Finland in competitions, but it requires at least the acquisition of citizenship. There are no fundamental obstacles, as BURKOVA is working and herself in charge of her own living. Finnish language is developing even though it is still quite difficult.
About Finland Anastasia has just good things to say.
“Finland is a really great country to live and study. Everything just works. People are very nice and most of them speak good English.”
Benedek Oláh at home
The most interesting player of the championships is, however, Benedek OLÁH, who has made a lot of nice matches in France's main league during the season. Oláh, defending his title, visits domestic competitions pretty seldom. He wants to be national champion, although his own goals are much higher than in Finnish games.
The strongest opponent will probably be only 17-year-old Alex NAUMI who is living and practicing in Eslöv, Sweden. Pasi VALASTI, who has played the 18 times in MS final, is still involved and harasses his younger, like another experienced master, Mika RÄSÄNEN. The 2015 winner, Roope KANTOLA, will also arrive in Tampere. With the exception of Kantola's title, Oláh has taken all the championships since 2011.
Born 24.8.1998 in Yaroslav Russia
Lived in Finland since autumn 2016
Studying at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences
Software Engineer at Avaintec Ltd
Belonged to a national junior top in Russia