Paavo Komi: A Life Devoted to Sport Science

Former ICSSPE President Died Age 79
15/10/2018 14:29

Paavo V. Komi, Former ICSSPE President and one of the most outstanding scientists and science politicians in the field, passed away after a long disease period. He left us just preceding his 79th birthday.


Paavo Komi was Professor of Biomechanics at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland as the Head of Department of Biology and Physical Activity. He was President of ICSSPE from 1990 until 1996.


His scientific contribution inspired and influenced the global sport science community. He was known as an active participant, speaker and organizer of numerous scientific congresses, and among others, one of the founders of ECSS. Komi was awarded by the IOC with the Olympic Order Award in 2001, and he was an honorary doctor to many Universities world-wide. In addition to being recognised by the global scientific community for his research work, his activities to strengthen cooperation beyond national boarders as well as between scientific institutions and organisations with the world of sport were highly appreciated by colleagues and successors. In addition to presiding ICSSPE, Komi was a member of IOC Medical Commission as well as the IOC Sport for All Commission.


Gudrun Doll-Tepper, who succeeded him as President of ICSSPE in 1997, remembers: “My memories go back to the 13th October, 1990, when the General Assembly of ICSSPE took place in Cologne, Germany, and Paavo Komi was elected President of ICSSPE. As the representative of the International Federation of Adapted Physical Activity, I was very impressed by his clear presentation and his very convincing vision for the future of the organisation with a very strong focus on sport science research. During his term of office from 1991 to 1996 he lead ICSSPE into a new era of this umbrella international organisation  and succeeded in intensifying ICSSPE´s links to the IOC, UNESCO and many international and national organisations of sport science, physical activity and physical education from all regions of the world. Enormous progress in international cooperation was made under his leadership. For me it was a great honour to follow him as President of ICSSPE in 1997 and I was thankful to him for all his support which helped us to continue his successful paths during a period of major political changes."


Many of Paavo Komi’s initiatives continue to develop. Colleagues and the general public in Finland which was informed by his passing through national media, acknowledge his contribution to the recognition “sport science made in Finland” receives globally. ICSSPE President Uri Schaefer not only values Paavo Komi’s strategic thinking but also his mentorship: “I have known Paavo Komi since 1992 when he together with the late IOC President Antonio Samaranch, awarded me the ICSSPE Sport Science Award of the IOC President for my PhD on the retirement and adjustment process of top level athletes. ‘Uri’, he said, ‘this is your beginning journey in sport research. Now you need to go and continue your scientific work’. It was a clear and unprecedented message from him to me emphasizing his expectations that I will devote my time and work to sport research like he has done. My last time that I had the honour to meet Paavo was at the IWG Conference in Helsinki in 2014, when he attended the ICSSPE dinner and where updated him as to my work, locally in Israel and globally as Past President of the ICCE and my role as Acting President of ICSSPE in those days.”


ICSSPE, its board under the leadership of its President Uri Schaefer, membership and staff of the Executive Office, offer condolences to Paavo Komi’s family.