Raimo Turunen, the esteemed vice president of the Finnish Weightlifting Association, has passed away, leaving behind a legacy that resonates both in Finland and abroad. Born on November 17, 1956, in Rautavaara, Turunen succumbed to a formidable and rapidly progressing illness on Tuesday in Helsinki, at the age of 66.

With a profound passion for weightlifting, Turunen first entered the sport as an athlete and later carved his path as an esteemed coach and revered technical official in competitions. His commitment extended beyond the field, as he served as a dedicated employee and trustee of the Weightlifting Association. Growing up in the small municipality of Rautavaara in Pohjois Savo, Turunen relocated to the capital region at the age of 15, where he resided until his untimely passing. Throughout his sporting and administrative journey, Turunen proudly represented Kerava Bodono. Notably, he achieved the bronze medal in the club team championship for Bodonos in 1986 and 1987. However, Turunen discovered his true calling in coaching weightlifters and assuming weightlifting administrative and referee roles, surpassing his own athletic endeavors.

His organizational ventures commenced at the Finnish Workers’ Sports Union (TUL) in the early 1980s, where he served as a coach for TUL’s international competition expeditions and organized prestigious international weightlifting events in Kerava. These competitions attracted Olympic champions, world titleholders, medalists, and record-breaking lifters, enabling Turunen to forge his initial international connections within the weightlifting community. In 1995, Turunen’s journey with the Finnish Weightlifting Federation (SPNL) began, as he assumed the role of responsible coach for both girls and boys. Shortly after, he spread his wings as a member of the youth national team. The year 1998 marked a significant milestone for Turunen when he was appointed as the training and coaching manager of the Weightlifting Association.

Raimo Turunen’s unwavering dedication and invaluable contributions have left an indelible mark on Finnish weightlifting. His passing is mourned by the weightlifting community, as they bid farewell to a remarkable individual who enriched the sport through his expertise and passion.

Turunen’s coaching journey took flight at the turn of the millennium, where he embarked on a series of international competitions as a dedicated coach. His expertise primarily shone in the youth World Cup and European Championships, while also assuming the role of the Finnish team’s coach in the general series World Cup competitions in 2001. Under Turunen’s guidance, Finnish junior lifters achieved remarkable success, earning numerous World Cup and European Championship medals. Benjamin Pirkkiö, Ali Oksala, Katja Greus, Heidi Harju, and Katri Suominen were among the talented athletes who graced the award podium, their achievements a testament to Turunen’s exceptional coaching skills. A lifelong learner, Turunen consistently honed his coaching abilities and recently completed a professional coaching degree at the University of Jyväskylä.

Transitioning seamlessly from coaching to management roles within the Weightlifting Association, Turunen served as a valued member of the association’s board for the majority of the 2000s. In 2014, he was elected vice president, a position he held until his passing. Throughout his board representation, Turunen made significant contributions, notably in the technical committee (now the expert group for competition activities), the coaching and training committee, and the coaching and training expert group.

As a seasoned technical official, Turunen nurtured a lifelong dream of officiating at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Although the dream remained unfulfilled, he made his mark as a respected judge, congress member, and jury participant, gracing various countries with his presence. In recognition of his outstanding contributions, the Finnish Weightlifting Association honored Turunen as Judge of the Year in 2021 and 2022, as well as the most active judge in 2019.

Beyond his professional achievements, Turunen was admired and approachable, connecting with individuals of all generations. Fondly known as Rami, he was warmly welcomed when guiding congregations across Finland. Through weightlifting, Turunen cultivated friendships around the world. One particularly poignant moment was when Janette Ylisoini, representing Kerava Bodono, clinched a silver medal at the 17-year-old World Championships in Leon, Mexico, last year. Ylisoini’s extraordinary feat, securing three medals, marked the first of its kind for a Finnish lifter in that competition. Turunen, serving as a technical official, witnessed this triumphant achievement. Notably, Ylisoini’s coach during the event was Juha Kukkonen, a former protégé of Turunen’s. Additionally, another one of Turunen’s esteemed coaches, Pekka Reponen, excelled in the men’s championships.

Turunen still had much to offer the weightlifting community, but in the spring, he received a devastating diagnosis, leaving him with only a few weeks to live. As a result of his relentlessly progressive illness, there was nothing that could be done. Turunen’s absence is deeply mourned by his loved ones and the vast international weightlifting community, where his memory will forever be cherished.

Image and text, Jaarli Pirkkiö

The European Weightlifting Federation (EWF) is deeply affected by the loss of Raimo Turunen, whose contributions to the sport will be remembered forever. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and the Finnish Weightlifting Federation during this difficult time. Turunen’s passion, expertise, and dedication will be greatly missed, leaving a lasting impact on the weightlifting community. May his legacy inspire future generations of athletes and coaches. Our thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones and the entire weightlifting family as we honor his memory.


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