With the WOC in the horizon, Inga Dambe comes to the Portuguese Orienteering Blog's tribune to talk about the time she spent in Portugal, recently, preparing the season and the next steps towards Estonia.
I would start by asking you to introduce yourself. Who is Inga Dambe?
Inga Dambe (I. D.) - I was born in Latvia's capital, Riga. Currently I'm living in Finland, representing Paimion Rasti club. I’m involved in orienteering as an active Elite orienteer and, more recently, also as a map maker. As for my hobbies, I like photography.
How did you realize that Orienteering would be your sport for life?
I. D. - Together with my family, I was introduced to orienteering when I was 8 years old. We started taking part in orienteering series “Magnets”, in and around Riga, which were very popular at that time, gathering over 1000 participants every Wednesday evening. I did quite well, getting diplomas and prizes, and started looking forward to run more, also in other competitions. At the age of 13, I managed to win my class at the Latvian Championships for the first time. Fighting for every second, enjoying nature, seeing wild animals, competing, succeeding, managing the excitement, knowing that races are always different – that is what I like in orienteering.
You're a WOC “veteran”, having participated in the event since 2001. Can you remember your first WOC?
I. D. - Those were quite busy and challenging years. My first WOC was actually two years earlier, in Scotland. I had graduated from the University of Latvia with a Bachelor’s degree in Educational Sciences that year, and I was also working. Orienteering was difficult for me in Scotland, and I didn't get to the finals. But the good thing was that I had so much to improve, and I started training properly.
You were in Portugal a couple of weeks ago. How do you evaluate the time you spent here?
I. D. - Portugal is a perfect place to increase motivation for the upcoming season and to switch the training environment. I was here for eleven intense orienteering days, together with my club mates, taking part in the Portugal O' Meeting and the Aguiar da Beira O' Meeting. It was interesting to run in different types of terrains – from oak forests and pine dunes to stony and bushy hills.
What was the main thing you learned from the Portuguese experience, and that you will have to focus on to become an even better athlete?
I. D. - There is always something to learn, no matter how experienced you are. It's not just a matter of running here – you can lose time choosing wrong passages through the green areas, loosing direction zigzagging through the stones and thorns, not reading the map properly, or being too slow and cautious climbing stone walls and rocks. I found myself too much of a risk taker, I should have taken safer route choices. Sometimes it was quite a game of luck to find the best passage through the thorny growths. The most interesting race was the last one – the Long Distance in Aguiar da Beira. It would be quite interesting to run it once more.
So far, how is your winter season going?
I. D. - There have been ups and downs. The weather conditions for trainings were quite challenging this winter in coastal Finland. Since I train outdoors, I faced slippery and icy roads nearly every day. But quite often it was possible to run in partly snowless forests.
Is there any special meaning to be a team mate of the IOF World Ranking leader, Olav Lundanes, at Paimion Rasti?
I. D. - Paimion Rasti is more “international” than ever – we have Elite runners from six countries now. Everyone has his/her own approach and style of training, living, character. You can learn something from anyone. It is hard to be lazy if you look at the others, like Olav Lundanes, training. It will be interesting to see how this season will develop – we have good chances to succeed in the big Relays.
What are your goals for the season?
I. D. - My sights are set upon the World Championships in Estonia, and the World Games in Poland, where I have already been nominated to run. Other important races are the Relays with the Paimion Rasti girls – Tiomila and Jukola.
To compete in Estonia will be like competing “at home” ...
I. D. - My orienteering thinking has become more ‘Scandinavian’, as I have spent more time in Finland than in Latvia in the recent years. Latvia has a wide variety of orienteering terrains, and surely you can find similar terrains to Estonia. And, of course, you can find terrains that are unlike the ones in the World Championships, and that would be in my hometown, close to Riga. Succeeding in Estonia, in my opinion, will be crucial to take the best route choices, going straight or going around hills or marshes, taking paths whenever necessary. To have a good sense of direction and use the compass, especially if the features are indistinct, will also be very important.
What are your expectations for the World Cup round in Latvia, at the end of August?
I. D. - The terrains are very specific of the region, it will be a good preparation for anyone who is aiming for WOC next year.
Are we going to see you in Portugal in 2018?
I. D. - We’ll see. Portugal is a good choice for those who like to do orienteering trainings in winter in snowless terrains. It is perfect that there is a possibility to choose different types of terrains. You can practise forest orienteering, as well as urban sprint.
Do you have anything you'd like to add?
I. D. - Thank you for the high-level organized competitions. It was a real pleasure to run here in Portugal.