Monday, December 30, 2013

Bruno Nazário: 2014, the turning season! (part I)

Bruno Nazario, Portuguese Team coach, comes today to the stage of the Portuguese Orienteering Blog. Time to remember the ending season, time to point the attentions towards 2014, “the turning season”.

A year ago, we saw your course setting of the Portugal O' Meeting's WRE Middle Distance, to win the “Course of the Year 2012”, the contest sponsored by World of O. This year, we were already able to taste, with Tiago Romão, another victory in the present edition of the contest. What do these two distinctions in a row for the Portuguese orienteering mean to you?

Bruno Nazario (B. N.) - Well, the results are worth what they're worth in these contests. It's not a poll taken by a panel of experts but a poll taken by the whole community. Still, it's the evidence of the quality and the organizational level of the Portugal O' Meeting in the international context. It is our most important event, the one that gives us visibility.

It is curious that you say “the results are worth what they're worth”, precisely the same expression used by Tiago Romão on his interview. Let me ask you if, as an expert, there was a better course for you, this year, than the Monsanto's Sprint.

B. N. - It's hard to say... I almost dare to say that, focusing exclusively on the Portugal O 'Meeting - and this without contempt towards any other organizations -, the Middle Distance WRE is a very well managed course set and has more merits than the Monsanto's Sprint course. However, these polls also take into account other factors and the terrain was crucial, on that genuine village, in a stunning landscape to which no one can remain indifferent.

What are the consequences, personally, of this kind of recognition?

B. N. - There are always pleasant moments, moments when you feel that your work is recognized, appreciated and has quality. Special moments like these give us, somehow, the guts to keep doing what we like. But nothing more than that.

A year ago, the economic crisis settled in our country and the brutal aggression agains the working class and the pensioners followed its unstoppable course. In this context, the teachers were - and are! - particularly punished by the blind policies of our government. For a teacher, like you are, where do you find the motivation to prepare an entire season?

B. N. - I must tell you that this is a great question, a question pointing directly towards the frustrations that someone in my position has to feel. Someone who, above all, knows that you could do much more with just a little bit more. Motivation is something that often escapes through my fingers, forcing me to focus on the small victories of the athletes. Not disregarding the work of our Federation, who gives me the motivation to continue as an athlete. Year after year, we always take some small steps, we always manage to do a little more, even knowing that our capabilities allow us to go further with better conditions. And this is truly frustrating.

Is this a temporary situation related with the crisis or do you believe that the Federation should apply the money more appropriately? That “little bit more” that you mentioned before, does it exist and is it not well applied or, quite simply, is there no money at all?

B. N. - This is a question for the Federation board, the managers of the money. But the budget is public and each one of us can verify where the money is applied. The truth is that the budget for the selections is unreal! Training camps, displacements, equipments, technicians, everything... If I discuss this with someone, mentioning our budget, people will laugh. To any international coach, it's impossible to understand what can we do with so little money. Even our Spanish colleagues have a budget for Foot-o at least twice ours. Our chances of participating in the major international competitions summed up to the World Championships and, exceptionally, to the European Championships, next year, that will take place in our country. Our budget is so small that, most probably, we won't have the financial capacity to participate in the stages of the World Cup “next door”, in Spain.

Despite all these restrictions, it was possible “to make omelets without eggs” in the recent World Championships. We had, for the first time in Portuguese orienteering history, at least one athlete present in each final.

B. N. - The expression is precisely that, “to make omelets without eggs”. But it is equally important that the orienteer community realizes that our level of achievement is clearly above the level of orienteering in Portugal. There is no country with only four athletes present in Vuokatti - and one of them with the misfortune of contracting gastroenteritis two days before the Championships - reaching four finals in a set of seven qualifications. In a certain way, we didn't achieve our goal in the Relay, but what we achieved was truly fabulous. For me it was fabulous! It's not the result achieved by Ukraine, for example, with an extraordinary bronze medal in the Relay, but the fact is that all their athletes live and train in Sweden. This is not the case of our athletes. Except for Tiago Aires, who spent a few days in Sweden with his club, all the other athletes worked in their clubs in Portugal, met each other a couple of times in the training camps with the national team and were in Vuokatti to achieve what they have achieved.

It's our great ability, to overcome at the important moments...

B. N. - I don't know if I call it that. I think we have talent... There is huge merits in the work develop by the athletes. My position is a bit like the “manager”, I mean the person who can manage the talent, who can manage the budget and make the “impossible” for being in Vuokatti a week before the World Championships, finding where to stay for a very low price – you don't realize where we were staying - and having with us Rafael Miguel, also, which helped a lot in the physical recovery day by day. Some small details put at the service of the athletes that worked very well, allowing them to put in the courses their enormous talent. I think that it's this talent which makes the difference.

Looking at the results achieved by our athletes at the World Championships, is there any in particular that deserves to be highlighted?

B. N. - I really highlight the work that was done together, even recognizing that not everything had been perfect. For example, in the Long Distance, if we combine the best splits of Diogo Miguel and the best splits of Tiago Aires, we see that we could easily achieve a result in the top 30, which was our big goal and something never achieved before. But during the course there were things that didn't work, Tiago suffered a lot with cramps and Diogo also did a couple of mistakes but, overall, we were sure that the Portuguese level is high enough for a top 30 in Long Distance. In his first year into the Elite and for the first time in the World Championships, João Mega reached a very good result in a very complicated Sprint, a very tricky course, with many options. He was really good and the doors are open to higher flights next year.

Don't loose the second part of the Interview, tomorrow, at your Portuguese Orienteering Blog.

Joaquim Margarido

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