It is hard to describe this man in a few sentences. Jaakko Kailajärvi has done really great career, first as a weightlifter and after that as a coach. Alongside his sport career, he worked as a fireman and an electrician. This four-time Olympian is still highly considered coach and he works with many athletes in his hometown Tampere.



Jaakko Kailajärvi is a retired Finnish weightlifter who was born first of July 1941 in Tampere. Kailajärvi represented Tampereen Pyrintö and he has continued coaching after the sport career in his home club.

During his career, he did two world records in snatch in 1962. He compete four times in Olympics (Tokyo 1964, Mexico 1968, Munich 1972 and Montreal 1976) and his best result was the 5th place in Mexico. In World Weightlifting Championships he won silver in 1972 and bronze 1974. Kailajärvi also won European Championship title in 1968 and he has three other medals from European Championships. Besides these Kailajärvi has won Nordic Countries Championships four times and he is nine-time Finnish Champion.

Already during his sport career Kailajärvi combined work and trainings. He started to work as an electrician already in 50´s alongside hard weightlifting trainings. In 1972-1975 he worked as a Sport Director of Tampereen Pyrintö.  After his sport career he started to work as a Head Coach of Finnish Weightlifting Federation in 1976  and continued it until 1992.  He also worked as a fireman for the city of Tampere the same time.

After the retirement from the fire department he has coached many individual athletes and teams in many different sports. For example, he has been working as a strength coach for the successful ice hockey team Tappara more than 20 seasons.

Alongside coaching many athletes to the top, he has produced a lot of  information about strength training for elite sport as well as public health. Tampereen Pyrintö has an annual trophy “Jaskan malja” named by Jaakko Kailajärvi and it is given to the member of the year.



An interview with Jaakko Kailajärvi

How it was to combine work and sport when you was young?

It was mandatory to do something to live, there was no chance to be an only professional weightlifter. I was 15 years old when I started to work and my first job was to polish shoes in the city centre. During my career I  worked as an electrician and fireman as well as for my club Tampereen Pyrintö.


How do you see dual-careers for athletes of today?

Even though it is so different nowadays I think it is wise and healthy to do something during sport career. At least for athletes in individual sports it is good to study or work alongside sport.


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