The present article of “Me and my School” takes us to Slovakia, to meet Martin Šmelík. Focused on mathematics and physics, the Long Distance's World Champion of School Sports presents himself on a very peculiar way and confesses to have a single goal in their life of orienteer: to enjoy!
Who is Martin Šmelík?
Martin Šmelík (M. S.) - My name is Martin Šmelík, but almost everybody call me “Šmelo”. I live in the second biggest Slovakian city, Košice, where I was born on 19th may 1996. I have a 5 years older sister who is always in a great mood. The whole family do orienteering. I attend a mathematical school and my favourite subjects are math and physics. I train mostly in Košice in very good conditions because of new maps made or actualized before the last year’s JWOC, and, of course, with an awesome training group full of nice people, who support each other all the time! :) I am interested in all kind of sports, except of combat sports. I used to play football, basketball, badminton, but I like orienteering the most. Nowadays, I do preferentially orienteering, but I support my training with cycling, swimming or skiing. I also like watching movies or TV series, hanging around with my friends or just laying in my bad, relaxing, listening to a music and reading a book. I like all kind of music with an enjoyable rhythm. I have got many memories to each song which makes me happy, but in general, I’ ll change my favourite song almost every week. My favourite book is “Born to Run”, if you haven’ t read it yet I strongly recommend it! I really like Quentin Tarantino's movies and the genre of movie usualy depends on my mood, but mostly drama. I am watching TV series “How I met Your Mather” and “The Big Bang Theory”. And about the food, if I am hungry, I eat almost everything I see but, almost as every young person, I am addicted to sweets :D having a chocolate after a tough training…one of the best feelings!
Would you like to present your school?
M. S. - I live in quite a big city (about 250 000 inhabitants) with amazing forests not so far away. As I already wrote, I attend a mathematical school, I will (hopefully) graduate next year. We have got mostly boys in our class and my teacher is one of the best women I know, Mrs. Viera Nachtmanová, who always support everybody in class, including me with many absences because of sport. At my school, just a few people have ever tried orienteering in their lives but, recently, many students and teachers found out what orienteering is about, unfortunately my classmates mostly think that it is just a great opportunity to miss some lessons and don't know how beautiful this sport can be.
How did you met Orienteering?
M. S. - Well, as my parents had been doing orienteering even before my birth, if I take a look to our family photo album, my first photos with a map are when I was one year old. I orienteered without my parents on the marked route for the first time when I was 6 and that was my first step of “big orienteering”. After that, I was improving in the forest just without my parents.
Was it important in your development as orienteer, the relation between you and your school?
M. S. - Of course, in some cases, my school had to help me. Since I miss a lot in school because of many training camps, the teachers had to be permissive to me when I did not understand what is going on. I think that the biggest credit of my development as orienteer is to my club ATU Kosice.
When did you decided to take Orienteering seriously?
M. S. - After summer training camp for young orienteers in Czech republic called Silva O' Camp, when I was 12, I started to look forward to every competition and enjoying every training. But I was too young for taking something seriously. I started to take orienteering seriously after my first participation at EYOC 2010, in Spain, where I found out how strong are the others and how difficult is to make a good result at such a competition. That motivated me to a hard training in the winter so I was able to compare with the best in my category next year.
What opportunities Orienteering brought to you until now?
M. S. - If I tell to anyone how many countries I have visited because of orienteering in such a young age, he or she just look at me with big unbelieving eyes telling that it is impossible, I have been for example twice in Sweden, in Spain, Latvia, Italy and many other countries. About the friends, I met the best people in my life because of orienteering. When I am with orienteers, I feel like in a different world! It is really difficult to describe it but you definitely know what I am talking about.
Looking to your curriculum, we can see (at least) the gold medal in the Long Distance at the ISF World School Sport Orienteering Championships 2013 (Algarve). Did you expect the title?
M. S. - Already last year, I told to myself that I want to get a medal at this event, so I trained really hard the whole winter (JWOC and EYOC motivated me really much too). Long distance is definitely my strongest discipline and I trusted to myself really much before the start because I knew that I was in good physical shape because at middle I had made some mistakes and got to the top 6 so the only problem was to run without mistakes and not to panic. This medal means a lot for me but mostly it is another good motivation for my improvement in orienteering life.
Talking about Portugal, I would like to know your opinion about the competition and how important can be an event like this in the young orienteers' life.
M. S. - I really liked the competition. I was really surprised about the accommodation but, in general, it was organized at really high level, I must say that the place was chosen very well. Everybody have definitely enjoyed the whole competition, found new friends and came home with a big smile on their faces! This competition is the first contact for young orienteers with orienteering and they will remember it forever so it absolutely is really important.
About the future, what do you expect to be, both professionally and orienteer?
M. S. - I am preparing for math and physics the most, but I don't know yet what university I am going to choose. I would like to continue with training, so my selection will be affected by the training opportunities. As orienteer, my only serious goal is to enjoy it.
Would you like to leave a message for those who always wanted to know about Orienteering, but are afraid to ask?
M. S. - Orienteering is loved by many people. It is not just a sport, it is a lifestyle! If you are not sure, you should definitely try this and talk with all the other at the super after the competition about the courses and you would definitely love this too!
Martin Šmelík in brief
…and my school