With eyes wide open over the next months, the Portuguese Orienteering Blog talked with Valentin Novikov. The Vice-World Champion of Middle Distance is one of many orienteers that has chosen Portugal for the start of the season. Here you are his impressions.
When we look at your curriculum and we see that you won the Relay at the JWOC1994 (Gdynia, Poland), it means that you are on top for a long, long time. Can you tell me how did you start doing Orienteering and how important is it in your life?
Valentin Novikov (V. N.) - My parents were coaches of Orienteering, and they still continue doing it with much pleasure. My memories are about to travel all the time to Training Camps or competitions. Of course, when I was two or four years old, everything was an adventure for me. I didn’t run at that time but I would always see runners, maps and forests. I learned the map symbols and the understanding of the terrains came by the same way. I like this lifestyle a lot, because it combines the training routine and a lot of traveling, which allows me to see the World. And of course the competitions, where I can enjoy the races, be with my friends and meet new people.
In both major events of the year – European and World Championships – we could see your amazing performances in Middle Distance, winning the correspondent two silver medals. Where is the secret of such great results?
V. N. - I still have a big motivation to keep myself in a high level. I try to improve with progressive training technologies, finding the best one for me. And, at the same time, I gain more experience.
For three different times you've been the IOF World Ranking's nº 1. What are the most significant moments of your career, the ones that you keep deeply in your heart?
V. N. - For me, such moment was my first title in WOC Denmark 2006, at the Relay race. I really felt like I was flying in the forest. And when I finished the race I felt like I had just had an extraordinary experience.
How do you see the present moment of our sport?
V. N. - I can only say that we should keep the level of technical difficulty in every distances. That’s what makes Orienteering a sport where you need to think, a sport extremely attractive and interesting for all.
You are about to return to Portugal for the pre-season. Why did you choose Portugal?
V. N. - Every winter, I do Training Camps where there is no snow and I can find a comfortable weather for training. This winter I decided to come to Portugal because you have interesting terrains and updated maps with exercises, which is good for trainings. And you have enough competitions for speed practice.
This is not the first time that you're in Portugal. Can you tell me something about your best memories, namely the Portugal O' Meeting 2010?
V. N. - That year I was injured and I only walked or ran really slowly in the forest, but that did not stop me from seeing great prospects for training in the future. I could see that you try to offer very competitive races.
And what are exactly your plans?
V. N. - My plans are to run, run and run. I will run in Norte Alentejano O' Meeting, Portugal O' Meeting and Meeting Orientação Centro. I may not be full speed in all of them.
What are your main goals for the next season?
V. N. - I will focus on WOC, World Games, CISM and Scandinavian relays. There, I'll be on top shape.
We are about to turn one more year. Would you like to leave a wish to all orienteers?
V. N. - I wish everyone to understand how unique our sport is, compared to others, and to appreciate that. And a happy New Year!