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74OLYMPIC REVIEWwww. olympic. org/ athletes MY GAMES M y first Olympic Games were in 1994 in Lillehammer. I was only 19 years old and representing my country for the first time at the Olympic Games – it was pretty overwhelming. There was only one village where all the athletes stayed which meant we were able to see what the other athletes went through and how they prepared for their competitions. It was really interesting. The whole Finnish national team, including athletes from different sports, was in the same complex, so I really enjoyed that. Everybody always talks about the Olympic atmosphere – I think I felt that the most at Lillehammer. We didn't really know what to expect when we went to the tournament but we did really well. We won the bronze medal. We played Russia, which was a team that had dominated the sport for so long, so it was a big thing back home. Obviously, winning a medal at the Olympic Games was one of the highlights of my career. Four years later in Nagano was the first time that all the hockey players from the NHL played in the Olympic Games. We were confident that we could do well but obviously the competition was a bit harder as most countries had their best players playing for them. We played Canada in the bronze medal game and won. Back then they had a very, very strong team which included Wayne Gretzky. For the Finns to face Canada in the bronze medal match and win was definitely an Olympic highlight. At the same time, that's a tournament I'm going to remember personally because it was the first time I was the captain of the national team. The Salt Lake City Olympic Games in 2002 came so soon after my treatments for non- Hodgkin's lymphoma so that it was just impossible for me to play. And at that point, I really didn't know if I'd play hockey again. The Games in Turin in 2006 were a couple of years after my whole cancer experience. I'd played hockey that year but being a bit older I realised that these might be my last Games. We had a really good team, so going in we knew that if everything went well, we could be successful there. I was excited and anxious to get out there in Turin – that was probably the best tournament that I've been a part of for Team Finland. We lost the gold in the finals to Sweden, but we had a great time. For me, the Olympic Games is not just about hockey. It's something that I think every athlete should experience. I'm hoping that I will be part of Team Finland again in Vancouver next year – you have to stay confident that you're going to be there. ¦ RightKoivu hopes to compete in his fourth Olympic Winter Games next year in Vancouver MYGAMES SAKUKOIVU THE CAPTAIN OF TEAM FINLAND AND IOC MEMBER AS WELL AS MEMBER OF THE IOC ATHLETES' COMMISSION LOOKS BACK ON HIS THREE OLYMPIC MEDAL EXPERIENCES NAGANO 1998 ? ice hockey Men TURIN 2006 ? ice hockey Men LILLEHAMMER 1994 ? ice hockey Men INTERVIEW: KATE ZIMMERMAN