By winning the Long Distance race (class W1 School), Gabriella Gustafsson was one of the major figures of the World School Orienteering Championships ISF 2013, that took place in Algarve, in April. The athlete cames from Sweden and accepted the invitation to talk about herself, as a student and orienteer.
Who is Gabriella Gustafsson?
Gabriella Gustafsson (G. G.) - My name is Gabriella Gustafsson and I will be 16 years old this summer. I was born on 3rd of July 1997 in a quite big city called Huskvarna (maybe some of you know the brand Husqvarna). I have lived in Huskvarna my whole life, but last year I moved to Eksjö. Besides my parents, I have one little brother. My favourite hobby is, of course, orienteering but I also like to be with my friends and to practice many different sports, as cross country skiing in the winter. My favourite food is “tacos” and I don’t have any especially favourite movie or music.
Would you like to present your school?
G. G. - The name of my school is Eksjö Gymnasium and it is placed in a small city called Eksjö. The school is also quite small with about 600 students and we are 50 orienteers. Orienteering is the only sport at my school so the others students know us well.
How did you meet Orienteering?
G. G. - I have run orienteering since I was a little child. I actually don't remember the first time I was at an orienteering competition because I was only 2 weeks old when my parents brought me to my first competition. When I was about 6 years old, I started training orienteering with my club IK Hakarpspojkarna and one thing I remember from that was that the coach had a t-shirt with a map on.
Was it important in your development as orienteer, the relationship between you and your school?
G. G. - The school helps me a lot to become a better orienteer. We are about 50 orienteers in my school, divided in three different classes. We train within the school schedule and get much help from the school. For example, we get to see a doctor, a coach who helps you with the training, we have all food and much more.
When did you decide to take orienteering seriously?
G. G. - I have always thought that orienteering is very fun. But when I was about 12 years I decided to quit playing football, then I had more time to dedicate myself to orienteering. But I have, since I was very little, known that I want to become a good orienteer.
What opportunities has Orienteering brought to you until now?
G. G. - Actually I don't know what my life would be without orienteering. I would never have met my best friends and I would never have seen so many beautiful places.
Looking at your curriculum, we can see the gold medal in the Long Distance of the ISF World School Sport Orienteering Championships 2013, in Algarve. Did you expect the title?
G. G. - Actually no, because my season before the week in Algarve had not been so good. I had had bad shape and I missed a lot both training and competitions. But I knew I had the chance to win because I know that I am at least as good as the other girls from Sweden. We, Swedish girls, didn't know how good the other girls were, so we didn't have such big expectations, but of course we know we were good.
Talking about Portugal, I would like to know your opinion about the competition and how important can an event like this be in the young orienteers' life.
G. G. - The competition was really good. The terrains were nice and it was a really serious and good arrangement. I think an event like this is very important for me and for other young orienteers. You need to meet other orienteers and learn to run in others terrains, because that helps you to improve your skills and become a better orienteer.
About the future, what do you expect to be, both professionally and orienteer?
G. G. - My dream is to win the World Championships. I know it takes a long way to get there but I will fight for it. I also have a dream make a living from orienteering. Today you can't do that but I hope to be able to do that.
Would you leave a message for those who always wanted to know about Orienteering, but are afraid to ask?
G. G. - Orienteering is the best sport ever. Maybe not for everybody, but it is very exercise-friendly and good for your health and you get the opportunity to see places you would never see otherwise.
Gabriella Gustafsson in brief
… and my school