Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Oleksandr Kratov: IOF's Athlete of the Month

Oleksandr Kratov is aiming to get a medal at the upcoming World Orienteering Championships in Finland. Still, he says his only “talent” is his passion for orienteering. Read in Athlete of the Month the achievements the talent has given him so far, and why it has taken him to Sweden!

Name: Oleksandr Kratov
Country: Ukraine
Discipline: Foot Orienteering
Career highlights: Number four at EOC middle distance 2012, number five middle distance WOC 2010.
IOF World Ranking position: 22nd

The Ukrainian foot orienteer Oleksandr Kratov has been among the best in the world for a little while now, but he hasn’t yet won a medal at the highest level. Now he is making really good preparations to try to win one.

Kratov will take part in the Sprint, Middle and probably also the Relay at the World Orienteering Championships (WOC) in Vuokatti, Finland in the middle of July. In the Middle distance WOC race in Trondheim three years ago he was fifth, and at EOC in Sweden last year he was fourth. The last one is what he regards as his best achievement so far. “I had quite rough preparation before that competition, but I managed to gather myself and do my best with the fitness level I had at that moment”, he says.

Living in Sweden

The Ukraine star has been living in Sweden for part of the time for some years, and permanently for the last three years. He and his girl friend Nadiya Vodlynska started to run for the Swedish club Orion five years ago. “It was a moment when all the support I had was gone, and it looked like I had to stop. But I desperately wanted to continue with the sport and I decided to try and find some club in Scandinavia, because in Ukraine there wasn’t a chance to go on. We were lucky when we got in touch with Orion. The club gave us good support and in time helped us to move to Sweden”, he tells.

Besides orienteering training he works for the club on a 70 % basis. “There are days when I’m quite busy, but most of the time I’m very flexible and can combine the job and training very well”.

Good in technique

Oleksandr started orienteering when he was 12 years old. In the years up to college he was doing a lot of orienteering training and he has continued at the same level ever since. “Maybe that is why I was so interested in this. I was always hungry to do it”, he says.

- When did you realise that you have so much talent?

I don’t think I have any special talent. No, I’m not hopeless, I have always found it quite easy to cope with any kind of sport, but I have never been outstanding. The only “talent” I have is my passion for orienteering”.

How often are you training orienteering technique now?

Difficult to say, I don’t really count it. But I think it’s about 7-8 hours of technique per week on average. It may vary from 3-4 hours of orienteering during an easy week up to 19 hours during my toughest week past winter. So I guess that I do about 400 hours of orienteering training during a year”. His technique is his strongest side.

In what kinds of ways are you still improving?

Right now, at the moment, I don’t feel that I have got any better since the springtime. The only thing I think I have improved in is my understanding of why I’m doing this!”

Goals for Finland

What’s your target for WOC in Finland?

I have been quite close to the medals during the past few years, so it would be nice to get one finally. But the main goal is to enjoy every minute of participation in this great event”.

His girl friend Nadiya Volynska has the same programme at WOC as Oleksandr has.
We will see who will get the best results”. She is 48th in the IOF World Rankings.

Oleksandr was in Finland for one week last year, but got injured and couldn’t train properly, but this time he is there for a camp that lasts for the last three weeks before the WOC. “It looks as though this time we will have proper preparation”, he says.

How are you looking at existing maps and so on?

Of course I have checked every available source of information, but I wouldn’t say that I put too much time into this. I’m just trying to get an idea of how the competition terrain could look like and then it is just about training in as relevant an environment as possible”.

Colombia in August

In the last part of the summer both he and his girl friend will take part in The World Games. He hasn’t been thinking much about that so far. “I have checked the old map, but I just take one thing at a time. Now it is all about WOC; after that I will think about the next competition”.

Are you looking forward to the races in Colombia?

Yes, I’m really looking forward to going! I think it will be very special, of course not in the way of super challenging terrain, but in all other ways it is going to be a very remarkable competition”.

What’s your goal there?

It is going to be a lot of just running which is not my strongest side at the moment. But it is just a bigger challenge for me and I really like challenges. And the goal is the same as usual – to run two races as close to perfect as possible”.

The longer-term future

What’s the big goal in the future?

Gold? Yes, of course! But when I say it like this I don’t really feel it, it is more like a stamp, because it is kind of normal to say so for an elite runner. No, of course it is my goal to be the best in the world and stuff like that. But what I’m trying to say here is that a memory of an error-free, or close to it, run in some challenging terrain at my top speed is much brighter and emotional than a recall of some prize-giving ceremony. So my big goal is to have a perfect race. It is impossible to achieve, but so great to aspire to”.

- How long time do you think about going on with orienteering at such a high level?

As long as my body will allow me to go on with it. Of course anything can happen, but it feels like I am still far from my limits and I intend to discover how far I can get. We will see”.

Minna Kauppi, the Athlete of June, has this question to Oleksandr: – What other things apart from orienteering and competitions are you expecting or would like to experience in Finland during the World Championships?

Apart from the Championships I’m looking forward to a lot of swimming and fishing!”

And the question from Oleksandr to Cecilia Thomasson, next month’s Athlete of the Month is:

Do you orienteer on foot as well as on mountain bike, or is it not good to combine the two?”

Text: Erik Borg

[See the original article at http://orienteering.org/the-ukrainian-with-big-passion-for-orienteering/. Published with permission from International Orienteering Federation]

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