Thursday, March 08, 2012

Simone Niggli: "I knew that I can be the best"

After a long period of absence, Simone Niggli is back to competition. The recent victory at the Portugal O' Meeting shows that the athlete is in the best ways to recover the World sceptre. With her eyes on the future, here are the statements of an excellent athlete and, above all, an excellent person.

People usually say that high competition is not compatible with the fact of being mother. You are the perfect example that this idea is wrong.

Simone Niggli (S.N.) -That’s true. It’s not easy to be mother and top orienteer at the same time, because you have to organize a lot your trainings and competitions and sometimes your child gets sick, perhaps. You have to be very flexible. But I just feel this power for Orienteering in my heart and I have a lot of good help of my husband and my parents. Without this help, the things wouldn’t work. This help is very, very important for me.

So, it’s possible!?...

S. N. - Yes, I think so. There are other examples like Vroni Konig-Salmi, which shows that this is possible but, of course, you have to be very motivated to do it, because you must prepared, sometimes to choose between the trainings or your children.

They are not here with you?

S. N. - No, because it's complicated to put three children in a plane and so… They’re at home with my parents and I’m sure that they are having a good time together. But I think of them all the time and now I’m really looking forward to going back to them.

When you run, when you compete, can you forget the children?

S. N. - Yes. Then I’m concentrated on my map. I think that’s also important, that if you want to be back on the top, to be concentrated when you’re training and also to be relaxed after works.

In your way to the top again, how important could this stage in Portugal be?

S. N. - For me these days were important because, after a long winter training, you never know how fast you are, how your technique works. So, I’ve got a very good feed-back specially physically, that I’m really on a good way, and technically I can improve. But we are only in February and we are still some months away from the World Championships, but also here I saw that I’m in a good way and that gives motivation to the next few months.

A four times winner at the Portugal O’ Meeting, what does that mean to you?

S. N. - Mentally it was a very good start for me also, that I knew that I can be the best. I know I’ve got to go on working, I’ve made some mistakes, but I know that in the overall you have to be stable all the four stages, so I was the best on these four.

At the last day of Portugal O’ Meeting we saw this chasing start system. How do you lead with the pressure, not only here but also in the big competitions?

S. N. - I just try to concentrate on my own race because that’s what I can control. Of course, I had a lead of four minutes so I knew that I can go quite slowly first, to get in the map and to get in the race. But you have always that thoughts in your head that, perhaps, someone can catch me… Yeah, that’s the mental part of Orienteering, that you can put away these thoughts and just concentrate on your own map.

Talking about you performances here, how do you feel?

S. N. - I’m very happy with my performances because they were very technical and demanding races. I've made some small mistakes, but I’m very pleased that they weren’t the big ones. So, I controlled the races all the way and that was the most important thing.

Let us know a little bit about yourself. I suppose that, with three children, your free time almost doesn’t exist. Anyway, can you tell me something about your hobbies?

S. N. - My hobbies are my family. I like being with my husband and my children, my parents, my sisters. So, it's a really important part of my life. Then, if I have time, I like to read a good book, going to the cinema and I also like to cook at home.

IOF seems to be very concerned with the media, not as much as with the support to Federations to get more affiliates to Orienteering. Is our sport in risk of getting older and older quickly?

S. N. - I understand that we have to put some efforts on getting more attention from the media. It's hard to say. In one way you have to get the media, in another way you have to get youngsters. The best way to show our sport to the young people is going to the school with some projects. We have a very good project in Switzerland which is called “sCOOL”, so the students learn Orienteering in school, on the school areas, and that's much easier for them than going to the forests. Perhaps there are some that may continue in the future. It's a project supported by the Federation, mainly, and also by the clubs.

One last question: Are we going to see you again next year in Portugal?

S. N. - I think so. I really enjoyed all the times I've been here. You have very good competitions and terrains. It's really amazing the different kind of terrains that we can find here. So, it's really good and I will certainly be back.

Join Simone Niggli in her webpage at

Joaquim Margarido

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