Finland's rising hammer hero Kosonen is ready for more magic after home gold in Espoo

  • News
  • Finland's rising hammer hero Kosonen is ready for more magic after home gold in Espoo

She is a huge fan of Harry Potter, but hammer thrower Silja Kosonen also has a magic touch of her own. She has certainly been leaving her rivals spellbound in the major age group championships in recent years.

It started in 2019 when she won gold at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Baku, Azerbaijan. Two years later, she went on to triumph at both the World Athletics U20 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya and at the European Athletics U20 Championships in Tallinn, Estonia. Then this summer, she won gold at the European Athletics U23 Championships in Espoo in her native Finland.        

“I have been to the Harry Potter studios near London three times with my mum,” says the young Finn with the gold-plated ability. “I love it. I have a lot of those wands you can collect - all the most famous ones. I have many posters, I have watched all the films and read all the books, both in Finnish and in English. I love the whole Harry Potter thing.” 

It is a reminder that away from the intensity of top-level athletics, she is like any other normal 20-year-old. Her grounded approach outside of the sport is a perfect counterbalance to the extraordinary progression she has already made in her short career. 

She represented Finland at the Tokyo Olympics aged just 18, where she acquitted herself well, placing 14th overall with 70.49m. Then last year, still in her teenage years, she placed 7th in the World Championships in Eugene and 5th at the European Athletics Championships in Munich. 

“I have been to so many big competitions already. My first adult international competition was the Olympics, so I think I started off with the biggest one,” she says with modesty.  

“I have grown with the years. I have that much experience and I get to enjoy the competition. I think the World Champs this year are going to be good and next year Paris (Olympics) and the Europeans. I am ready.”

Balanced both in and out of the hammer circle

Balance is key to success in the hammer circle. And it is something that Kosonen has found both inside and outside of the throws cage. Along with her fascination of Harry Potter, she has also taken part in orienteering, dancing, cross country skiing, swimming and football as a youngster.  

“I’ve done a lot of different things. One of my good qualities is that I have done so many other things and it has been good for me. I’ve never been at the top in other sports, but I have enjoyed them.” she observes.

Occasionally, she also plays the piano. “I have a teacher who comes to my place when we play, it’s just like a bit of piano playing and a bit of therapy at the same time. We chat and have fun. I haven’t planned on being a great piano player. It’s just for fun.” 

It is her breadth of interests away from athletics that has perhaps enabled her to perform under pressure. In Espoo, in the face of enormous expectation on her as a big home hope for gold, she performed flawlessly. 

In the qualification phase, she booked her place in the final at the first attempt, sending the hammer 5.33m beyond the automatic standard of 66.00m.   

Then in the final, she landed a first round 73.71m. It was a championship record, virtually securing gold right from the off. She followed up with four further throws that were slightly shorter, but all still good enough for gold, underlining her dominance. 

“It’s amazing,” she said in the immediate aftermath of her win on home soil. “My last U23 championships for me here in Finland and I am proud that I got the gold. That’s what I came here for and that’s what I did.”

Getty Images 1543943993

Drawing inspiration from an Olympic medallist

In an event where three-times Olympic, four-times World and four-times European champion Anita Włodarczyk is the modern-day standard bearer, it is inevitable that the next generation of talent like Kosonen have huge admiration for the Polish icon. 

But she also has a less likely figure of inspiration that reveals much about Kosonen’s emphasis on delivering under intense pressure. “One of my biggest idols has been Sophie Hitchon. In Rio 2016, when she threw herself to bronze medal on the last throw, that’s quite impressive. She has been a big role model too,” she says. 

As she continues to progress, it is inescapable that the major medals at senior level could also be within her grasp in the coming years. 

“I am hoping to get to the medal positions in the senior championships, that would be cool,” she says. “But I have to admit that I am quite young still in the hammer throw. There’s a lot of good throwers in our competition worldwide. I think the best age is closer to 30 than 20, so we just have to keep on working hard and one day hope that I get to stand on the podium. 

“I would like to throw a bit faster. My technique is quite good. No one has a perfect technique. But it’s getting there. More strength, more speed and it will get there in time. I’m so young that I have a lot of time.” 

Kosonen has already proven her wizardry with the hammer, and it will surely see this Harry Potter fan conjuring plenty more golden moments in the future.

Chris Broadbent for European Athletics

Official Partners
Official Partners
Official Partners
Official Partners
Official Partners
Official Partners
Broadcast Partner
Broadcast Partner
Preferred Suppliers
Supporting Hotel
Photography Agency