The victory in the first edition makes Ionut Zinca forever linked to the history of the NAOM - Norte Alentejano O' Meeting. After a long time, the Romanian returns to Portugal, to an event for which he has a special affection. A season full of illusion is about to begin!
In 2011, in France, you reached the best position ever of a Romanian athlete in the World Orienteering Championships so far, with a fantastic 5th place in the Sprint. The following year, you still managed to get a presence in all the three individual finals in the WOC, in Lausanne, but since then you have almost eclipsed. What is the reason for your “disappearance”?
Ionut Zinca (I. Z.) - After the WOC 2012, things didn't go particularly well and I had to change my goals when I realized that the necessary support was not guaranteed by the Federation. I was expecting more in 2012, but I couldn't prepare myself well enough due to the lack of conditions and, thus, doing better was really difficult. In 2013 I didn't exactly disappear, but I was forced to stop for four months due to an injury. In April I still got a good set of results but in early May I injured myself again in Bulgaria and the result were three surgeries and one month in the hospital. On June 15th, I was back to training but the little time that separated me from the World Championships led to giving up the idea, eventually yielding my place and providing a young athlete the chance to compete in such a great event.
What do you feel when you are out of the forest?
I. Z. - Being outside of the competition is really bad, at least I live very badly with this situation. I always put Orienteering above all, it has always been my great passion. But the times have changed and I also end up having limitations. Now I have a family, other responsibilities and I am no longer the “niño loco” [“crazy guy”] who did everything he wanted, when he wanted .
This participation in the NAOM indicates that 2014 is a new year, a year to reappear at the highest level?
I. Z. - During all this time I have followed Orienteering very closely, with a single purpose in mind: being back in 2014 stronger than ever! At the moment I'm physically fine, I have not touched the maps too much, it is true, but hopefully, with specific training in the next two months, I believe that I can get the conditions to achieve my biggest goals.
I. Z. - The World Cup, the European Championship and the World Championships. Not too much! (laughs) But well, these are the plans and I'll see how I can be able to put them into practice. At the moment, the Romanian Federation doesn't give any support, which makes me particularly sad. Much of the money for the preparation and the competitions will have to come out of my pocket, but my wife and I have decided that it is worth trying one last time and do everything to achieve a good season. It is not easy to make decisions when the money coming into the household per month is a third of what I will need until my first participation in the World Cup, in Antalya. This is how you do sport in Romania. But I can also see a positive side on this, an extra motivation and the perspective of a handful of unforgettable moments .
You've mentioned the European Championships, which will take place in Portugal. Any particular expectations?
I. Z. - The European Championships are one of the “main dishes” of the season. I expect to reach the Championships in the best shape, but there are many aspects that may influence my preparation.
For the moment we have the NAOM, defining the beginning of the preparation. Why the NAOM?
I. Z. - The NAOM is special to me. Having represented, for a couple of seasons, the Grupo Desportivo dos Quatro Caminhos, makes this an always particular event. I have an urge to go back to being with my Portuguese friends, since we haven't been together for a long time. The terrains are beautiful and this region is charming, with great food and incredibly kind people. And finally the quality of the courses and the organization in general, always attentive and available, dealing warmly with the participants, as usual with the organizations in Portugal. I would also like to say a word of thanks to the Grupo Desportivo dos Quatro Caminhos, to Fernando Costa and to Orievents for their support and for facilitating me all the information.
Would you like to leave a wish to all who will compete this weekend in Castelo de Vide?
I. Z. - I wish you enjoy the nature and the beautiful landscapes that Castelo de Vide offers.