Jan Kocbach is in Portugal and the Portuguese Orienteering Blog went to meet him. From a very pleasant conversation in the crowded and noisy Arena of the XIII Orienteering Meeting of Centro, at the King's Forest (Marinha Grande), here you are, broadly speaking, the highest points.
Why are you honouring us with your presence here in Portugal?
Jan Kocbach (J.K.) - I’m here with the Norwegian Team, helping them with the GPS analysis. I’m making sure that we have a GPS data from all the Norwegian runners, from all the fast trainings and races. Then, I do the analysis of where they lose time, when they gain time, where they can improve.
How important it can be for the training process?
J.K. - It’s very important to understand where you lose and where you gain time. In my opinion, the after work is nearly just as important as the training, because that’s when you learn. There are small differences between a gold medal and a fourth place. You have to get that difference.
When we talk in little differences and take a look at the greatest teams – Sweden, Norway, Finland, Switzerland,… - where are their strongest and weakest points?
J.K. - That’s a complex question. This is more a question of individual runners than the nations and their each other strengths.
But Thierry Gueorgiou, for example, he is still unbeatable!?...
J.K. - No, no. He is not unbeatable. But I think that, in a tricky terrain with poor visibility, it’s very difficult to beat him, because his technique is very good in that terrain. In a more open terrain, he’s absolutely beatable. We saw in the first day of Orienteerin Meeting of Centro, of course, is not usual that he makes a mistake like that. But, still, it’s much closer in that terrain. In Orienteering you have to be concentrated on every control, so it’s difficult to be unbeatable.
This passion called Orienteering, how did it happen to you?
J.K. - Orienteering has been my main sport since I was twelve years old, so, for many, many years.
To direct this passion through World of O, does it mean that you felt that we are not as good as we should be in these particular matters of Communication and Media?
J.K. - In a certain way, yes. But World of O is an internal site, it’s for orienteers, it’s not for the outside world. It’s very Orienteering specific, even elite specific you can say so, mostly elite but also a bit for a broader. But it’s really for the ones who have a passion for Orienteering.
And how can we expand for the outside world such a fantastic job?
J.K. - That’s a different job. It’s the job of dealing profiles. You have to do it through newspapers, TV… I mean, the work to build profiles outside the Orienteering community has to be done by the outer media organizations. Federations are one part of them, the runners are another part of them, they have to sell themselves.
How should the runners feel this responsibility and, through the media, being ambassadors of our sport?
J.K. - Well, we have some of the Norwegian runners, for example, who are good in the media. And it really helps. And there are other runners around the world that they are also good with the media, they also get better sponsors, of course, and they get more attention. So it’s in their own interest, as well.
It’s an advice that you leave to the top runners?
J.K. - Yes, sure. But the problem is that not all orienteers are that kind of persons. You still have to try but for some is easy, for some is more difficult.
How do you feel here in Portugal?
J.K. - It’s very nice. Actually, this is my first time here in Portugal. It’s nice in the forest, it’s nice organizations, the training camps are very well organized. These terrains here, in Marinha Grande, are very interesting because you have a lot of control details. You can run very fast and still Orienteering is not very easy. But I think the one in the mountains is much nicer for my Orienteering style.
How important can be these trainings and competitions at this time of the season?
J.K. - This kind of terrain here is good for the basic training. The control training is always good, it’s one of the bases. And it’s more tricky than I did expect. In the first day, when I went to a hard walk, I did big mistakes. But in the second day it went a lot better.
This kind of competitions – a Long Distance with almost 20 km, for example – is that what we need for the opening of the season or should it be not as hard as that?
J.K. - They are well trained, so there is no problem with that. The difficult thing is to keep the concentration for so long.
You have a passion for Orienteering, but everybody knows that you have a passion for maps, too.
J.K. - Yes, I like maps! You need a map to find your way. The maps are mostly for my pleasure, also mostly the World of O is for myself. I do the things I like and often people, other people, need the same things as I do.
Sometime we can see you involved in matters that concern to rules or organizations. I mean, the “WOC in the Future” project, for example, you did a little politics. How important is this?
J.K. - A little bit, yes. I try to be objective. I don’t want to push my opinion; I try to show the differences. So, in what I write, I usually don’t put up my opinion, but I try to put up the different facts in an objective way. The other things written in the internet about Orienteering politics are usually from one side. I try to see it from both sides and to balance it, so that people can make up their own opinion. I don’t really do politics. I just try to layout the possibilities.
Do you feel you are someone special in our “family”?
J.K. - I feel that many people know me. So, it’s easy to get contact with somebody if I need something.
Are we going to see you in Portugal again?
J.K. - Who knows!? My problem is that I can’t run now. When I can’t run, it’s not so funny being around if I don’t have a special reason. Now I’m with the team and everything is fine. If the team wants to hold me, I probably will be. If I can run, I will also probably be. We’ll see. But I enjoy to be here.
And about World of O, what are the next projects?
J.K. - When I work with World of O, I have no goals. I do everything from day to day. When I start doing something, if I note “oh, this would be fun today”, it happens. So, I don’t have any long or short term projects. I do what is fun.
One last question: Portugal will host the European Orienteering Championships 2014. I ask you a word to Portugal and to our organization.
J.K. - I’m sure it will be great. I see here that you can do great organizations, you have nice terrains… I’m sure it will be very nice Championships.