Paulo Franco was 33rd in his heat, Tiago Aires abandoned by injury and Miguel Silva didn't even start. This is the balance of the participation of the Portuguese team in the qualificatory of Long Distance held this morning.
The second day of the European Orienteering Championships brought the competitors back to Hökberg for a new qualifying session, this time in Long Distance. 108 male and 75 female athletes answered the call, spread over three series in each category of qualification. With Manuel Horta and Tiago Leal out of these qualificatory, by option, and Miguel Silva missing the call, still recovering from a wearing Middle Distance race, Paulo Franco and Tiago Aires took over their shoulders the responsibility to defend the colors of Portugal.
Participating in the second heat of qualifying, Tiago Aires was particularly unfortunate today and was forced to abandon the race. Speaking to the Portuguese Orienteering Blog, the major portuguese athlete began by noting that “since the beginning I was having pain in the toe, the result of an old injury, aggravated yesterday in the Middle Distance race.” Joining this to an "unsafe navigation and without guts”, and the result was the inevitable abandonment. Tiago Aires stresses "the enormous discomfort in the foot to run out of paths and slopes," reserving, however, a word of hope regarding his future on these Championships: “Tomorrow I hope to do the Sprint.”
Even without Hubmann, Switzerland takes twelve into the finals
Paulo Franco ran the third heat and, from the beginning, he showed great difficulties in the progression, but without very significant mistakes. His 33rd final place, with a time of 1:03:47, left him at distant 13:04 away from the Czech Milos Nykodym and the 17th place, which would guarantee him the passport to the desired final. Paulo Franco spoke about his race to Portuguese Orienteering Blog: “I started well, with some small hesitations, but without losing too much time. At control 5 I lost about one minute and the Latvian athlete caught me. We leave the control 6 at the same time but he took a different option and I didn't come to see him again. At the control 9 I was passed by two other athletes who came behind me - Thierry Gueorgiou and Ionut Zinca - without seeing them. Until the end, I lost about one minute and half, which gives five to six minutes of loosing time.” In a more deep analysis, the athlete says that “in terms of navigation I think it was positive and I felt good physically.” And he concludes: “Tomorrow is the Sprint qualification, and although I'm not a great specialist in Sprint, I will do my best!” As for Miguel Silva, at purpose of his absence from the race this morning, here's his explanation: “I was scheduled to run every races of the EOC program. However, today I felt a pain in the left Achilles tendon, which has haunted me in the recent months, inclusive at the Spanish National Championship and Portuguese National Championship of Long Distance and Relay. I thought it would be better to keep myself for the Sprint tomorrow, in which I think I have a better chance. It was a pity, because the course today was interesting.”
The series had male winners as the Russian Dmitry Tsvetkov, the Norwegian Anders Nordberg and the Finnish Olli-Markus Taivanen. The World Champion in title, the French Thierry Gueorgiou, was second in the third heat, 15 seconds behind a surprising Taivanen. The European Champion in title, the Swiss Daniel Hubmann, did not leave. In the women sector, the victories in the series fit the Russian Tatiana Ryabkhina, the Finnish Merja Rantanen and the European Champion of Long Distance in title, the Swiss Simone Niggli. Among the 102 athletes accurate for the big final (51 in each category), 12 are Swiss, while Finland and the Czech Republic will bring 11 athletes to the departure each.
Everything to follow at http://www.eoc2012.se/
[Photo courtesy by Tiago Aires]