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Interview by Sandra Grosberga
Thank you for making time for interview with us. Its nice to have such high class elite orienteers in Latvia. We know that you have just come from the training camp in Estonia. Its a question for you Daniel. You have medals both from Junior World Champs and European Champs that were held in Estonia many years ago. So and the terrains there were quite similar to these. But what are your impressions about terrains this time?
Daniel: I was really looking forward to go back to Estonia to these terrains because I always love to run orienteering in all the Baltic States. It was again nice experience. I think the terrain suits me well, and I am really looking forward to the World Championships.
So, what about you Martin?
Martin: For me it was the first time in Estonia before the WOC. My first competition in Baltics was in 2006, my first YWOC in Lithuania. So, there was my first experience in the same kind of terrain.
But is your focus on sprint or forest?
Martin: Ja, the last years I have been the sprinter in the Swiss team and of course I wanna keep that sprint level. On the other hand its a goal of me to qualify also for the forest discipline, so that will be my next step.
What do you think about the sprint terrains? Do you have similar configuration of towns in Switzerland or is this also something different and only typical for Baltics?
Martin: I think we have many different types of cities and villages in Switzerland. So I think we can kind of simulate similar terrains. Usually here in this country the buildings are farer away from other buildings, so there is more space between buildings than usually in Switzerland.
So the next question will be for both of you. Next year European Championships will be held in Switzerland. How is that going to affect your preparation for World Champs? Will the championship on homeground be more important?
Daniel: No, for me the World Championships are always the highest goal of the year. But of course next year is a bit special, when you have EOC in the home country. It also gets high prioritization and of course I do a lot of specific preperation for this WOC. But still I think it will be possible to combine both goals, European Champs and World Champs.
Martin: Yeah, and Ticino where the EOC will be held is quite a steep place. So you need to have the strength in your legs to get fast uphills. I think thats something I will keep the focus on next autumn.
Recently there was an article on IOF webpage about specialization in orienteering and that fewer athletes are running all the distances in World Champs. But since the WOC programm was changed about 4 years ago you, Daniel, have every year run everything except sprint relay. So, do you think that specialization isn’t that important or is it possible to easily manage the WOC program?
Daniel: Yeah, I can just say, for me it’s possible to combine everything. I have last year won medals in all the disciplines. Of course it can be hard and it can be tough to compete against sprinters, when I am also focusing on forest races. But still, I think, it’s orienteering, and if you can run fast, you can do both and I try to continue like this.
And you, Martin, have run sprint relay every year since it has come into WOC program. What are your thoughts on this?
Martin: Of course, I was specializing during the last years, but actually only for a few months before WOC. All year round I am actually training like an allrounder and I want to be an allrounder and become good in every discipline. Now, when the WOC program will change, I think it will be tougher to get into the WOC team in our nation because its possible to run all disciplines, all competitions. That could be a problem for me to get into WOC.
Your thoughts on, how the orienteering will change after the WOC splitting in Forest and Sprint WOC. Do think, it’s for better or worse?
Daniel: I never was a real supporter of splitting WOC and I still don’t see the big benefit of it. Because I think we have now a nice program with this WOC. Its one week. Its a week, when many fans like from Switzerland are traveling to this event, because its a nice week. But I am not sure if they will go to a sprint WOC, when its only four days and not the exciting forest orienteering around. And I also think, its a pity because some top runners will not go to splited WOC. They probably will prefer to run O-ringen instead. And I think, its a pity if we miss some of the big names in the championships
About this year’s WOC, do you already know, which distances are you going to run? And this year’s sprint qualification and finals are on separate days. Does it make even easier to run the whole WOC program?
Daniel: We dont know yet, what disciplines we are going to run. Because we have selection races in the middle of May in Estonia. But my favorite program is the same, as I did the last year, so individual races plus the forest relay. And I think its possible to combine everything, should not be a problem I guess.
Martin: ... And I take what I get :) Yeah, it depends on the WOC trials we have, as he said in the middle of May. As I said earlier I would like to run in forest for the first time. Of course sprint and sprint relay is my aim.
How is it with the selection races for the Swiss team? Is it like, you get selected exactly from those races or does the federation take into consideration also the previous results and stuff like that or is it just that you need to be on point on thoses selection races?
Daniel: No, the selection races are just one criteria. It’s kind of the overall picture that they take into account to pick the team. I think that also makes sense that you look to some previous international races and you take into consideration also the potential that the runner has. Because at the end the federations want to have the strongest team and the most possible chances for the medals.
This is the question for Daniel. You won your first gold in 2008 when you were 25 years old. So, how has your training routine changed since then? Does winning a gold medal mean that you are a pro and you don’t need to train technique so much anymore? Or is it the other way around, that you need to train even more to stay on the top?
Daniel: I think its both of course a bit. On one side, I have a lot of experience now with many years competing on elite level, but on the other side you never can lay back and relax too much. You of course need to improve yourself. I think I am training in nowadays even more than I did maybe with 25. But on the other side maybe I do a little bit less interval sessions than I did back then. So the training has changed just a little bit. More or less I trust the same philosophy.
To both of you, what do you think about, that speed is getting even more important in orienteering and sometimes you have to take more risk to win a race? Do you think it is for better or worse? How does it change orienteering?
Daniel: You mean risk because the level is high?
Like sometimes you need to take risk. May be you feel that, if you were reading too much map, you are gonna loose on that. So you need to take risk.
Daniel: I think it’s very good for the competition that also the best need to give everything and nobody can run safely to the WOC gold medal. I think if you wanna win the race you need to give everything. And you need to go to the limit or sometimes little bit over the limit. And that makes it really interesting.
Martin: I think that if the level is high in orienteering that shows the quality of our sport. If you are little bit behind like me and not the world champion yet. Of course I have these thoughts to somehow risk more in orienteering and to be faster, but usually it does not pay out. You have to keep your limit and expand your own limits.
Can you maybe tell something more about your daily routine, like, how much attention do you pay to the food you eat? Are you McDonalds guys or no?
Daniel: I am not a McDonalds guy and I also try to eat healthy, and do the things the right way, but I am not doing any extreme things. I think I am eating more or less normal like athletes should do, but nothing extreme.
So you are not a vegan or vegetarian?
Daniel: No, I eat more or less everything. Just a bit of everything.
Martin: Ja, the same. I think it comes from me. We grew up together, so we have the same philosophy of food. Our mama told us what we should eat, and I think that kept till today.
What is your realationship with injuries? I know that you, Daniel have had some problems in the past and what are you doing now to avoid that?
Daniel: Of course injuries are never funny and I try to avoid them. I feel that now with a lot of years of experience I know a little bit more how my body is working and I can kind of recognize the signs. And then I try to adapt the training, so this has worked pretty good in last years. But of course before I had some big achilles injury and that was a hard time. But I think that is also a part of sportman’s life that not everything is going according to plan always. You also learn somthing, when you get injured, and it makes you even stronger sometimes.
Martin: I was quite free of injuries so far. I had some injuries that came because of accidents like falling down in forest and things like that. That shows that I have potential to train more. I think I have not found my limits yet, the training amount. So I am still trying to go upwards.
So the last question would be about something that is coming next week Tiomila. I know that you, Daniel, won last year Jukola with your Koovee Team and you came 5th in Tiomila. Is the goal to win it next Saturday?
Daniel: I think the goal should be to perform well as a team because in such a event many things can happen. Its orienteering during the night, so its not easy and there are many other good teams. So I don’t think we should say “we wanna win”. Of course that’s always the motivation to do that. If everything goes well we might have a chance to do that.
Martin: This year I skip both Jukola and Tiomila, and actually focus on a WOC. Next year I will be running for a new club and of course I want to try to fit Koovee and stay on the same level.
Can you tell us for which club are you going to run?
Martin: Its not official yet. :)
Thank you very much to Martin and Daniel and good luck this season! The ALL4o.com team