Monday, August 27, 2012

WMTBOC 2012: An event to remember

End of the 2012 World MTB Orienteering Championships. In a time of balance, the Portuguese Orienteering Blog recalls the highlights of the event and chooses those that were, in its point of view, the great moments of the event.

The 2012 World MTB Orienteering Championships came to the end. Distributed by the categories of Elite, Juniors and Veterans, the event was attended by 450 athletes from 32 countries, with this particular note to China Taipei, Turkey and Romania, that for the first time took their seats in the largest international MTB Orienteering event.

Hosted in Veszprém, Hungary, the World Championships saw the program distributed over six days, with the finals of Sprint, Middle Distance, Long Distance and Relay to make up the highlights of the event. Altogether, they were assigned 33 individual world titles and eight world relay titles, with the Czech Republic taking the biggest number of medals, no less than eleven, but with the peculiarity that eight of them were reached in the Veterans category. Finland with seven medals - four of them in the Elite category and two in the Junior category - Austria and Denmark with four world titles each, were the teams that followed in the list of medals of the Championships.

The finals, one by one

The Finals of Sprint and Middle Distance completed the first half of the program. In the Sprint race, there was an intense duel between the Austrian Tobias Breitschädel and the Czech Marek Pospisek. Triumph of the Austrian by two seconds only, in what is, until now, the tightest victory in a final of Sprint at the World Championships. In the female class, the Swiss Christine Schaffner won her first gold medal in this discipline, beating Emily Benham (Great-Britain) by the narrow margin of 22 seconds. Regarding the Middle Distance, it brought us a Samuli Saarela (Finland) at his best, showing why he is the leader of the World Ranking, with a great win against his biggest rival, the Russian Anton Foliforov. Within the ladies, the Swiss Ursina Jäggi managed, perhaps, the biggest surprise of the Championships, beating all the rivalry and offering to Switzerland its first female world title at Middle Distance.

The Relay race opened the second half of the competitive program, with a "double" of Finland. Much easier in the case of the ladies, regarding the Swiss team, which had won the title last year; tighter in the case of men, with Jussi Laurila withstanding the strong pressure from the Russian Anton Foliforov and offering to his country the fourth win in ten editions of the competition. Considered the "race queen" of the Championships, the final of Long Distance ended the program in the best way, with the Russian Ruslan Gritsan to relish the gold, four years after his last world title achieved in Ostróda. Gritsan, who imposed to the Finn Juho Saarinen by the difference of 16 seconds, in what is also the narrowest margin in the history of Long Distance's finals. As for the female sector, Susanna Laurila tasted again the gold, this time individually, imposing to the Russian Ksenia Chernikh by an advantage of 23 seconds.

Finland, the major triumphant

Looking at the scoreboard in the World Elite, it becomes difficult to choose the biggest name of the Championships. The six individual titles were to six different athletes, namely the Austrian Tobias Breitschädel, the Swiss Ursina Jaggi and the Finnish Susanna Laurila, bringing a note of tremendous freshness and the guarantee to be well assured the future of the sport in their respective countries. The Swiss Christine Schaffner, the Finn Samuli Saarela and the Russian Ruslan Gritsan are the other world champions in 2012, in what constitutes the unambiguous confirmation of its enormous capabilities and qualities, evident in the 17 world titles boasted by all three together.

Already in the collective chapter, the Finland is the big winner. To the titles of Samuli Saarela and Susanna Laurila, join the Relay triumphs in men and women, causing that Finland reached, at its account, half of the world titles in the Elite program. It follows Switzerland, thanks to the above mentioned winnings of Christine Schaffner and Ursina Jaggi.

Some better than the others

Analyzing the benefits of each of the countries here, becomes impossible not to mention Portugal. The Portuguese managed to establish its best results ever in the Middle Distance (Davide Machado at 11th place) and in the Relay (8th position), equaling still, through Davide Machado, the best place ever in the Long Distance (5th place). In the case of Austria, it wasn't only the gold medal of Tobias Breitschädel in the final of Sprint. Also the 3rd place in the Men's Relay was a highlight of the Austrian team. A word also for the Great-Britain and, in particular, to Emily Benham, a young lady with so much spontaneity and sympathy as strenght and courage, which achieved the second place in the final of Sprint, offering to her country its first medal in a World MTB Orienteering Championships. Also Bulgaria and Sweden did a couple of good results, with Stanimir Belomazhev reacing the 15th position in the Sprint final and Cecilia Thomasson being 12nd in the Long Distance race. Although a reference to the home team, Hungary, with Anna Fuzy away from the results of other times, but to show a László Rózsa able to come to do great things in the future, establishing in these World Championships the best results ever of his country in the Sprint (26th place) and in the Long Distance (42th place).

By contrast, countries like Australia and Denmark constitute a surprise by the negative. Gone are the days when Belinda Allison, Emily Viner and Adrian Jackson put Australia on the top of the most medalists of the World. Individually, the Melanie Simpson's 20th place in the final of Long Distance was the best result of the Australian team, but its fair to mention the Men's Relay, which snatched an excellent 9th place. As for Denmark, without its “captains” Erik Skovgaard Knudsen and Rikke Kornvig, is no longer a team feared by all. And without the bronze medal of Nina Hoffmann in the Middle Distance race, the Denmark would be virtually alongside of these World Championships. The 5th place of Gaëlle Barlet in the final of Sprint, the same result of Laura Scaravonati in the Middle Distance and, in a certain way, the bronze medal of Anna Kaminska also in the final of Sprint, are unable to hide a set of results below the expectations, both for France as Italy and Poland. A further note to the Czech Republic, possessor of the best terrains for MTB Orienteering worldwide, with a school that never ceases to give to the sport some of its most promising figures, with technical and cartographers of the highest level but still without reaching the Elite world titles in ten years of Championships.

And yet...

Romania, Turkey and China Taipei make his debut in these World Championships of 2012, with the Turks and the Chinese clearly outside the high-wheel of MTB Orienteering, but with Romania to show some quality here and get two interesting results, by Tamás Bogya at Sprint (51th place) and Zoltán Tóth, in the Middle Distance (50th place). Finally a word for two countries that are not regulars in these Championships. After six years of interregnum, the United States submitted a team of three female athletes, certainly warlike but without achieving significant results. As for Brazil, brought to these Championships a male athlete and one female, with Barbara Bomfim achieving an interesting result, getting the 51st place in the Middle Distance race.

It only remains to speak of the organization of these Championships. From what we were hearing and seeing, the note to give to the organization of the 2012 World MTB Orienteering Championships is very high. Good maps and courses, good logistics, much sympathy and attention to the several teams, put these Championships in a place of reference of the best that has been done on the MTB Orienteering events. In relation to the communication and media, the stakes have never been so high and it was possible, "in direct", to follow step by step the events unfold. Missed, no doubt, the press dossiers - the webpage was forgotten and the last entry date yet from 20th August (!) - but this is a single stain in a huge quality tissue. It should be noted that these World Championships confirmed for many that the Sprint race should be away of the program of the Championships and the new rule that allows cycling out of the paths is approved. More and better map reading, more navigation and, above all, greater sports fairness turn the rule in a particularly wise decision.

Time to turn the page

Now it's time to turn the page, advancing already our eyes to the north of Estonia and to the town of Rakvere, near the Gulf of Finland. It is there that, from 26th to 31st August 2013, will take place the XI World MTB Orienteering Championships and the VI World Junior MTB Orienteering Championships. Some information is already available at the webpage of the event at and the first Bulletin can be seen HERE. As for the IV World Masters MTB Orienteering Championships, it will take place later, presumably in 10th to 13th October, in ... Portugal!

Joaquim Margarido

Monday, August 20, 2012

Edgars Bertuks: "I am my own idol"

When, at the end of the year, Jan Kobach's “World of O” launches a new edition of "The Orienteering Achievement of ...", Edgars Bertuks – I am sure! - will be the leading candidate to the victory. Two medals, one of them of gold, at the recent WOC 2012, did fall the spotlights on this Latvian born in Aluksne, on the first day of 1985. Here and now he speaks to the Portuguese Orienteering Blog, telling us a little about himself and this dream that he's living.

What a remarkable feat, your gold medal in the final of the Middle Distance of the
World Championships in Lausanne. Allow me to congratulate you and, now, let me ask if this title was in your plans?

Edgars Bertuks (E. B.) - Thanks! That was a truly great moment. Winning a gold medal at WOC has always been one of my biggest dreams. Also during times when it seemed to be impossible, this dream gave me that kick needed to move forward, not to give up, to try one more time. If we look at it more technically, I had my big goal set to WOC 2013 and gold medal in long distance and therefore the task for this year was to repeat my personal best which was 9th place during WOC 2008.

I am sure that you analyzed dozens of times your race. Where was the secret of your victory?
Was there one truly decisive moment during the course?

E. B. - There are no secrets behind victory. I can tell everyone small details of my performance, but I am pretty sure it won't work for any other runner. In order to win one has to be himself. For me it was all about staying focused, being present, being aware - "being here and now". Keeping my head up and doing what I know best. In details - I perceived the whole course as one route and only when I got out on the field I switched into my running mode. I had made an agreement with myself that I would "give it all" when it came to running that day. That was a good deal!

A few months ago, I interviewed Thierry Gueorgiou where he said that "it is in the winter that we
win the medals of the summer." How to prepare a gold medal?

E. B. - I can only agree with Thierry here. I started my preparation for this season by October 2011. Also it wasn't smooth at all since I could run very little cause of my heel injury from France. So I used swimming and other cross training a lot. At the beginning of this year I went to Portugal without knowing whether I would be able to do enough running there, but my leg got better and I continued with TuMe camp in Spain and spent the rest of the winter in the UK. "It is in the winter that we win the medals of the summer" has also become one of my favorite mottos. Back here in Riga I had a 800 m long travel where I have repeated this to myself hundreds of times.

What does this title mean to you?

E. B. - For me it's another proof that everything is possible as long as I am confident and truly believe in myself. This achievement also shows to other Latvian orienteers (specially the young ones) that it's worth it, that one day they will be in my place, even if we don't have all the benefits that "great" orienteering nations have. I have said this a lot, but it can never be too much, I guess - I truly hope we will get all the possible benefits out of this victory to make orienteering an even more popular sport in Latvia and make it more familiar for masses.

Looking at the gold medal in the Middle Distance, we almost forget the 3rd place in the Long
Distance final. Please, tell me something about this other spectacular performance.

E. B. - For me this second medal has almost the same importance as a golden one, because after winning gold I was in big doubt whether I would be able to repeat or even get close to medals again next year (yeah, I was already feeling that my job there was done), so winning bronze in long distance I proved to everyone, and most important - to myself, that it wasn't just one lucky occasion.

As an athlete, surely, Edgars Bertuks is a name with firmed credits in Orienteering. And as a
person? How do you define yourself? What are the things that you appreciate the most in life? And those you hate the most?

E. B. - There are few things I strongly believe in. Most important would be - “what you give is what you get". So I always keep it in mind. That doesn't mean that I haven't experienced any fatal moments in my life, but most of the time I know why those are happening to me. My family is the most important part of my life so I appreciate everything they have done for me and every moment I am able to spend with them. I keep myself clear of negative emotions - like hate. I try to get rid of them in less than twenty seconds. That’s a great ability I have learned from my fiancé Kristine.
Are you superstitious? During the races, do you keep some amulet?

E. B. - Not really. There are a few rituals (kind of my own meditations) I keep on to and I have a necklace with Baltic sea amber, but I don't credit it with any super powers.

Are there any athletes that you see as your idols of the moment?

E. B. - I have had few during my career, but what I have also understood is that as long as I have idols I can only take second place. This might sound arrogant, but I am my own idol.
Being World Champion greatly increases your responsibilities. What are your projects for the

E. B. - For this year I had planned to take part at WC final, but my plans have changed since I feel that I need to give my body some rest from running. I will go to Vuokatti for a short WOC 2013 training camp and take part in the Finnish championships straight after. And of course I will meet both my coaches and my great club mates. I will prepare and try to qualify for European XC Championships in late autumn. In longer terms - my BIG goal hasn't lost importance so I will do my best to run for long distance gold in Vuokatti.

And what about the future of Orienteering? Is our sport walking in the right direction?

E. B. - I have paid my attention to this question only lately and I am happy that WOC won't be split in two parts. Other changes are OK for me, as long as there is a place for real forest orienteering. At the same time, I am aware that I will have to focus on sprint type orienteering in the future because it will only become more popular. If I had the power to decide, I would also bring big orienteering events to countries like Latvia in order to make it more and more recognizable to more and more people. The thing is that we don't have so much resources to organize truly top level competitions and any help from big Orienteering nations would be much appreciated.

To know more about Edgards Bertuks, take a look on his webpage at

[Photo by Jan Kocbach,]

Joaquim Margarido

Sunday, August 19, 2012

WMTBOC 2012: Portugal in the World Championships

Portugal starts tomorrow its 10th participation in a World MTBO Championships . In Veszprém, Hungary, nine athletes (six men and three women) give expression to the will to win of our selection. Learn a little more about our representatives and their journeys in the previous WOC.

Rank 16 6869 points

2011, WOC no.10, Vicenza, ITA, Relay
2011, WOC no.6, Vicenza, ITA, Sprint
2011, WOC no.36, Vicenza, ITA, Middle
2011, WOC no.5, Vicenza, ITA, Long
2010, WOC no.9, Montalegre, POR, Relay
2010, WOC no.49, Montalegre, POR, Sprint
2010, WOC no.12, Montalegre, POR, Middle
2010, WOC no.7, Montalegre, POR, Long

Rank 61 5813 points

2011, WOC no.32, Vicenza, ITA, Sprint
2011, WOC no.46, Vicenza, ITA, Middle
2011, WOC no.32, Vicenza, ITA, Long
2010, WOC no.9, Montalegre, POR, Relay
2010, WOC no.11, Montalegre, POR, Sprint
2010, WOC no.19, Montalegre, POR, Middle
2010, WOC no.33, Montalegre, POR, Long
2009, WOC no.11, Ben Shemen, ISR, Relay
2009, WOC no.16, Ben Shemen, ISR, Sprint
2009, WOC no.31, Ben Shemen, ISR, Middle
2009, WOC no.30, Ben Shemen, ISR, Long
2008, WOC no.20, Óstroda, POL, Relay
2008, WOC no.21, Óstroda, POL, Sprint
2008, WOC no.38, Óstroda, POL, Middle
2008, WOC no.38, Óstroda, POL, Long
2007, WOC no.16, Nove Mesto Na Morave, CZE, Sprint
2007, WOC no.63, Nove Mesto Na Morave, CZE, Middle
2006, WOC no.12, Joensuu, FIN, Relay
2006, WOC no.40, Joensuu, FIN, Middle
2005, WOC no.10, Banska Bystrica, SVK, Relay
2005, WOC no.46, Banska Bystrica, SVK, Middle
2005, WOC no.51, Banska Bystrica, SVK, Long
2004, WOC no.11, Ballarat, AUS, Relay
2004, WOC no.18, Ballarat, AUS, Middle
2004, WOC no.47, Ballarat, AUS, Long

Rank 69 5710 points

2011, WOC no.10, Vicenza, ITA, Relay
2011, WOC no.48, Vicenza, ITA, Sprint
2011, WOC no.81, Vicenza, ITA, Middle
2011, WOC no.39, Vicenza, ITA, Long
2009, WOC no.11, Ben Shemen, ISR, Relay
2009, WOC no.33, Ben Shemen, ISR, Sprint
2009, WOC no.60, Ben Shemen, ISR, Middle
2009, WOC no.40, Ben Shemen, ISR, Long

Rank 80 5148 points

2011, WOC dsq, Vicenza, ITA, Sprint
2011, WOC no.86, Vicenza, ITA, Middle
2011, WOC no.43, Vicenza, ITA, Long

Rank 203 1312 points

Rank 78 3079 points

Rank 90 2209 points

2010, WOC no.10, Montalegre, POR, Relay
2010, WOC no.33, Montalegre, POR, Sprint
2010, WOC no.33, Montalegre, POR, Middle
2010, WOC no.30, Montalegre, POR, Long

Rank -

Rank -

Know everything about WMTBOC 2012 at

[Photos by Daniel Marques]

Joaquim Margarido

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fruzsina Biró: "The important thing in Trail Orienteering is the handicapped people"

Returning after one (always) short summer break, the Portuguese Orienteering Blog comes again to the subject of Trail Orienteering and to the interviews carried out during the WTOC 2012, in Scotland. Our invited today is Fruzsina Biró, a 38 year old hungarian, Psychologist, who lives in Nagykovácsi. Started in Trail-O in 2007, she took her best result in Trondheim, at the WTOC 2010, with a 5th position in the Paralympic Class. Last year, in France, she was 6th place in the Open Class but this year the results weren't exactly what she expected. This and many more to read right now.

How did you start in TrailO and why?

Fruzsina Biró (F. B.) - My family is one of the most well-known orienteering families in Hungary (there are some World Championship places and many national championships), so I started in Foot Orienteering early, when I was 4 years old. Orienteering is just a hobby for me, but an important hobby. Unfortunately six years ago I became ill (joint disease) and I had to stop running. In those years, some trailO events began to be organized in Hungary (thanks to Julia Grant and László Nemesházi) and I tried it… TrailO is a good game for me, maybe a little bit more than a hobby. For some years, it was the only sporting facilities and connection with the orienteering for me. I'm very lucky because I could start running again last year, but TrailO is still my favourite.

During these years, what are your best memories? And the worst?

F. B. - My most beautiful memory is my first mistake-free competition in Trondheim on the first day of WTOC 2010 (and then the 5th place). There were good moments with the Hungarian team. And the WTOC 2009 in Hungary was very exciting because in the first day of competition was my pregnancy due date and in the morning of the 2nd day my daughter was born.

What did you feel about WTOC 2012?

F. B. – We were a four members team and it was very good for me, because I often must compete as the only Hungarian. The most fantastic thing that we saw here in Scotland, was the behaviour about handicapped people (for example the public transport in Dundee). Organisers were very kind and helpful.

And the courses?

F. B. – The courses were very difficult for me and specially for the beginners of the Hungarian team. I had never been in Great Britain for a TrailO event, so all of this, the terrains and the courses, were very strange for me. But I must say I enjoyed the courses a lot. Sometimes I had problems with the map, mainly on the first day, but usually I am looking for the reasons myself. I spent all the time we had, I concentrated a lot but I wasn't good enough in this competition. I'm a little bit sad with my results, I have to do more exercise (laughs). I did not like the Model Event because it was not similar or useful enough for the competitions.

Trail-O or TempO?

F. B. - I love TempO although I'm not fast enough. I think TempO is the key for the integration of new members - especially young people - into this sport.

How is TrailO doing in Hungary?

F. B. – TrailO in Hungary is on a turning point. We've organized the WTOC in 2009, but the first members who organized this big event are retired and they're no longer with us. Now we try to start again or continue, we try to involve some other people, many people... we try! We have a little group of paralympic competitors, a little more orienteers and about ten events per year. There were 70 participants on the TrailO Championship this year - I think we are on the right track.

How can we do that? Finding people from Foot Orienteering?

F. B. – Yes, also from Foot Orienteering. But I think that the important thing in Trail Orienteering is the handicapped people. We have many participants from Foot Orienteering, but we have another new group from an Institute that works with handicapped people. Our main problem is the situation of disabled people: sport is not an important thing for them because they have many financial, work and medical problems.

We'll have ETOC 2014 in Portugal – I should say that you've participated this year in the Portugal O' Meeting's TrailO course – and perhaps you can tell me what you expect from our event?

F. B. - Orienteering and nice weather instead of hungarian winter - that was a good combination, I loved it. The TrailO course was great too, although I was not tuned (I wrote about it on my blog: My plan includes the ETOC 2014 in Portugal…

For how long are we going to see you doing Trail-O?

F. B. - I don't know; maybe I will stop it if I win a WTOC gold medal (laughs).

Joaquim Margarido