Former standing volleyball star now shines in sitting volleyball

Sari Virta

It’s not extraordinary that a volleyball player who has suffered from serious lower body injuries changes sports to a sitting volleyball at a tender age. Finland’s Sari Virta has done it, but it was bit more dramatic than she would have guessed.

– About three years ago I was lying in my sofa when I started to feel something in my right leg. I tried to contact my doctor but when I got a call back my leg was already paralyzed, Virta says.

She used to be an important part of Vaasan Vasama’s dynasty in Finnish women’s volleyball league in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Virta won three Finnish titles and she also has some youth national team matches under her belt in volleyball. Now she faces a new sport career in sitting volleyball.

– I knew Jarmo Kari, a Finnish sitting volleyball classifier, who introduced me to sitting volleyball, Virta tells.

After starting sitting volleyball Virta has realised that her disability is only a small slow down, not a barrier. Now she is one of the key players in Finnish national team alongside with another former volleyball player Marja Valkeavuori.

Sitting volleyball is a sport dominated by countries recently been in war in men’s side and countries with big masses in women’s side. Small countries such as Finland have to collect their players where they can and hope to get sitting volleyball classifications for them. Finland have actually done quite well in women’s volleyball considering the circumstances. In the opening day of the Pajulahti Games Finland lost 0–3 to the Netherlands but managed to beat Hungary 3–0.