Friday, February 15, 2013

Portugal O' Meeting 2013: Thierry Gueorgiou and Simone Niggli winners in Monsanto

Ending the Portugal O’ Meeting 2013′s 3rd day, the Sprint race at Monsanto was an unforgettable event. Sure of a very special moment, many were those who were keen to be present in ‘the most Portuguese village in Portugal’. In the end, Simone Niggli and Thierry Gueorgiou carried, once again, the laurels of victory!

To visit Monsanto is to plunge into a sea of serenity. Sighted at distance, the village merges into the granite as something mystical, magical. On every street, in every home, we can see deep marks of a time stopped in time. Each stone is a piece of life and every body, every face, displays a telluric energy that invades us, making us feeling more alive.

It was a tribute to this land, Monsanto – the ‘ship of stone’ that Fernando Namora described so well in his ‘Fragments of a Doctor’s Life’ – that the Organization of Portugal O’ Meeting reserved for the second half of the 3rd day. After an exhausting WRE Middle Distance course, the whole orienteering ‘tribe’ moved to Monsanto, to encounter this ‘monument to creation’ and a map that, in the end, would deserve from Thierry Gueorgiou this comment: “I do not keep a lot of maps in my archives any more, but I have to find a room for today´s POM sprint map…” And a very special room, we must say!

Clash of Giants

Made of alleys and stairways, and narrow passages between houses or on the rocks – but always, always rising up to the towering castle – the planned courses put unimaginable challenges to the 970 participants, in what was, to all of them, a unique orienteering experience. And a life lesson, too.

Thierry Gueorgiou (Kalevan Rasti) and Matthias Kyburz (Swiss Team), respectively 3rd and 1st in the IOF World Ranking, fought for the triumph in a clash of giants. They were the only ones to achieve under 19 minutes to cover the 2.1 km of the race, but the victory eventually came to Gueorgiou by a difference of 37 seconds (18:17 to 18:54), after using all his enormous courage and skill. In the next three places, more than a minute after the winner, were classified Severin Howald (Swiss Team), Gernot Kerschbaumer (Pan Kristianstad) and Antonio Martinez (Colivenc).

Simone Niggli, again!

In the Women Elite class, the best orienteer of all time showed herself in Monsanto at a high level. Just two hours after winning the ‘queen race’ of the Portugal O’ Meeting 2013, Simone Niggli (Swiss Team) came here to fulfil her route of 1.6 km in 15:51, leaving behind, by 1:06, her compatriot Julia Gross. Anastasia Tikhonova (MS Parma), Ausrine Kutkaite (SNO) and Elena Roos (Swiss Team) occupied in this order the next positions.

But this was only the ‘second act’ of the POM Sprint Cup, a set of two events that started in the night of the first day at the urban centre of Idanha-a-Nova. So, while Thierry Gueorgiou enjoyed a decompression training, Matthias Kyburz tried hard, achieving victory both in the stage and in the overall POM Sprint Cup. In the Women’s Elite class, Anastasia Tikhonova was the big winner, as well as taking the overall victory.

Joaquim Margarido

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