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Finland’s Turbo Twins

Many teams would be happy to have just one Oivanen in their ranks. Finland has two of them: Matti and Mikko Oivanen are probably the most renowned twins on the volleyball courts in Europe and they want to help their team to deliver a similarly good performance at the EuroVolley 2011 as in the CEV European Championship 2007, when Finland finished fourth.

This has to be the Finish sense of humour: “How you can tell us apart? It’s easy – we look differently“, explained Mikko Oivanen once in an interview. Of course, it is not so easy because at the first glace the two resemble each other like two volleyballs. However, if both are on the court the difference is obvious: Mikko acts as wing spiker while Matti’s role is that of the middleblocker.

For a long time the career of the two developed very similarl: inspired by their mother, the two brothers who grew up in the small town Huttinen in the South of Finland, abandoned track and field athletics in 1995 at the age of nine and started to play volleyball. Only in 2006 their paths separated when they started to play for different clubs. At that point, however, they have long become regular members of the national team, where they – just like it was to be expected of twin brothers – celebrated their debut on the same day (June 3, 2005) in an encounter against Germany.

Ever since then their careers have gathered momentum. Mikko was voted best scorer – together with the superstar from Serbia Ivan Miljkovic – at the European Championship in 2007, which aroused the interest of several top clubs. At the end of the day he ‘only’ went to Kastamonu Belediyesi, because he had already signed a contract with the Turkish team before the European Championship. Matti dared to cross the Finish border only in 2008 when he joined the ranks of Beauvais Oise.

Since they have been playing for foreign top clubs, the Finish league is no longer interesting for the two brothers. Between 2008 and 2010 Mikko played for Resovia Rzeszow and was considered one of the best spikers in the Polish league. With this club he became Polish vice-champion in 2009 and almost made it to the Champions League Final Four in 2010. In the upcoming season he will play for IBB Istanbul who is qualified for the CEV Cup competition.

Matti never stayed longer than one season with one and the same club outside Finland: from Beauvais Oise he went to Copra Piacenza, afterwards he joined Yoga Forli and currently he belongs to Novgorod. And even though Finland missed to qualify for the final round in the World League recently, in particular Mikko did not fail to show his class: with 241points he was by far the most successful scorer in the pool phase.