Stephane Rochet, the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for USD, was Mikko Salo's judge for the Event 5 Couplet at the end of Saturday at the 2009 Games. The workout was 3 rounds for time of:
30 Wallball (20lbs, 10')
30 Squat snatches (75lbs).
Stephane wrote this about it:
I wasn't really paying attention to where guys were placed, especially on the first day. I did not really know who Mikko was. When he came over to me, he struck me as a nice, humble guy. He asked a few questions and did few practice reps on each exercise.
His snatches were solid. His wallball was bad from the start. He couldn't get into a rhythm, and he kept hitting the bottom of the target, which didn't count. I explained he needed to hit higher on the target. He tried a couple more. One was good and I said, "That's the one!"
Then the event started. It hadn't sunk in. Mikko struggled immediately with the wallball. He kept hitting the bottom of the target or missing all together. I kept saying "NO," which made me feel bad, but these reps were not even close and that's how it goes.
Mikko struggled through that entire first set of 30. He did not say anything to me. He swore a little at himself in Finnish, but mostly he just kept trying. Rep after rep. He never stepped back, never got physically frustrated nor did he ever move away from the wall. He just kept going. I took away at least 15 reps that first set.
Then he hammered out his snatches. He came back to the wall and the struggles continued. I took a bunch more reps away (I must have disallowed close to 30 reps throughout the entire workout). He kept the same attitude. He just kept going, missing on every 3rd or 4th rep.
Finally he adopted the system of throwing the ball to the target, letting it fall to the ground, catching it off the bounce, then squatting and throwing it up for the next rep. This was much slower for each attempt, but he was much more successful with this method.
Very few misses after he went to this style. And no breaks. Like a machine. Rep after rep. He crushed snatches, and if I remember right he finished with a good time (fourth!). And he did not look too tired either. He shook my hand and never said anything about the reps I took a way. Total class act and a tremendous athlete.
I'll never forget how he just kept going....great mental toughness.