Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Antonio Martinez and Andreu Blanes: The Spanish Bomb Kids

They are two of the most visible faces of present-day Spanish Orienteering, embodying the will to do more, to do better. In a game of 'all or nothing', Andreu Blanes and Antonio Martinez tell a little more about themselves, what they are and what they hope to be. Ready to 'explode' at any moment, they are the 'Spanish Bomb Kids'.

They were in Portugal at the beginning of February, then they flew to Turkey, soon they'll be 'anywhere' and the first thing that comes to mind is that to be an orienteer is the easy and perfect way of life. Perfect, for someone who loves orienteering, certainly is. But not easy, as Antonio Martinez says: “If you don't have enough money and time, there can be problems.” Luckily he has already finish his studies as a Physical Education teacher and he has enough free time to try to improve his orienteering skills in different countries. But, as he explains, “all this is possible thanks to our regional and national federations and to my Swedish club (Eksjö), which helps me with the trips and make it a bit easier for me.”

Andreu Blanes has the same opinion and talk about “a very big effort” to do all that travelling: “Most of the trips are not undertaken in the best conditions, but we know that if we want to improve and get into the elite orienteering class, we have to train a lot in different terrains.” So, in the end, even if they have to sleep on the ground, they always travel everywhere with a smile on their faces, especially if they know that they are going “to attend good training sessions or competitions.”

The biggest part is acquired”

Our talk continues and I want to hear what they think about the question of being amongst the world's best orienteers: is it something genetic or acquired? Antonio has no doubts: “First of all you need the right genetics and then, if you work hard everyday, if you are consistent, if you get good support to develop your aptitudes and you have clear objectives, anything is possible. If you have good genetics but you don't work hard, you are not going to get too far.”

Andreu draws on his own experience and thinks that “the biggest part is acquired.” He explains: “When I was a child I wasn't one of the best orienteers in my region, but in my opinion, my dreams were stronger than the others' dreams. I have worked really hard since then, leaving many things behind on the way, and always with the clear objective of being a World Champion some day.”

Thierry Gueorgiou and Roger Casal

Like almost everybody in Orienteering, they also have someone that they follow as an example, an idol. “Yes, of course I have an idol”, says Antonio. And the idol is... “Thierry Gueogiou”. But this is not something new: “Since I was a kid I have been a fan of him. Now I am an Elite runner and I have had the luck to do some training sessions with him and to compete against him. It is now that I realize, in fact, how great he is, the amazing way he competes, how much hard work he does everyday to be the best. I think it must be really hard to find an orienteer who can read maps like him.”

Andreu confesses that “Thierry has also been my idol since I was a kid”, but he adds another name: “I would also like to mention Roger Casal. He has achieved really good results without any support and being alone, which is impressive. I have trained with him for many years and he has been my reference almost every day. It is now that I'm trying to beat his bests results that I can see how far he has come.”

A reference point for the youngsters

And what about Antonio and Andreu? Did they see themselves as an example for the Spanish youngsters? “Not just me, but I think in general Spanish orienteers are making strong progress”, Antonio says. He explains that “years ago it would be impossible to think that Spain could get a medal at an international competition, whereas in the last few years we have achieved it several times (EYOC, WSCO, WUOC, JWOC).” In his opinion, the fact that Spanish athletes are now able to get those medals “should be a motivation for the younger generations who are now getting stronger.” Taking in the words of his mate, Andreu explains that “we are getting good results and that can be a reference point for the youngsters. It is always important that the new generations have the motivation to beat the previous generations.”

Gold in WOC Relay, together

The goals for the season are in some respects linked with the biggest dream of all. Antonio says: “I'm training for two peak points in this season, one of them is the Spanish Championship at the end of March and the other one, and the most important, is the World Orienteering Championships in July. I want to focus overall in Sprint but also Middle and Relay (short and fast distances).” As for Andreu, “my main goals are much the same. I want to run good races at the Spanish Championships, but the big goal of the season is the WOC, in Finland.” They point together the same result: “A place in the top 15”.

And what about that dream, the biggest of all dreams, getting a gold medal at the World Orienteering Championships? For Andreu, “maybe it seems like Sprint is the better distance for me, but I think Middle Distance is the most amazing race at WOC, so that's my dream, being World Champion on the Middle Distance.” Antonio chooses the Relay, “the most exciting distance for me. And it would be even better if Andreu was also part of it. It would be a reward for all the hard work and the unbelievable experiences that we have shared together since we were young.” Andreu is in total agreement: “It would be unbelievable to get a medal together in that discipline.”

All or nothing

One last question: Why 'Spanish Bomb Kids'? Antonio and Andreu answer as one single voice: “It's just a fun name which described us running and orienteering. It's because you never know when we are going to 'explode', meaning, we can run a perfect race and win with an amazing time and, at the same time, we can run a really bad race with a lot of mistakes and be beaten by everyone. 'All or nothing' is our philosophy.”

Joaquim Margarido

* “Niños Bomba!!” - http://bomb-kids.blogspot.com/

[See the Interview at Inside Orienteering 02/2013, at http://www.orienteering.org/edocker/inside-orienteering/2013-2/. Published with permission from the International Orienteering Federation]

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