Tuesday, March 04, 2014

POM 2014: Thierry Gueorgiou and Simone Niggli, the big winners

With almost 1700 participants, the Portugal O' Meeting 2014 is over. On the only Long Distance course of the event, Simone Niggli and Thierry Gueorgiou were the first to start... and the first to finish!

The19th edition of the Portugal O 'Meeting, the most important event of the national regular calendar of Foot orienteering, came to the end. The organization - of the CPOC – Clube Português de Orientação e Corrida and the Municipality of Gouveia – offered to the last day aLong Distance course, revisiting some of the most emblematic points of the previous days, in a perfect blend of technical complexity and physical capability.

The “chasing start” saw the leaders in Men Super Elite class and Women Elite class - respectively Thierry Gueorgiou (Kalevan Rasti) and Simone Niggli (OK Tisaren) - with comfortable advantages, such that only a cataclysm could dictate a reversal in the final standings. And it is true that the cataclysms happen - Simone Niggli is the perfect example, only 8th ranked in the previous stage -, it didn't happen in today's stage and both runners were even faster, increasing their advantages against the concurrence.

A very positive test”

In Men Super Elite class, Thierry Gueorgiou was the only athlete to run down one hour and twenty minutes, concluding the 13.9 km of his course in 1:19:47. The second position today was to the Swiss Andreas Rüedlinger (Leksands OK), 2:21 behind Gueorgiou, while the third place went to the Czech Jan Petrzela (OK Kare), with the time of 1:22:12. With this results, Thierry Gueorgiou confirmed the lead and won the Portugal O' Meeting for the fourth time (third consecutive). But it was possible to watch true “flip-flaps” in the classification, from the sensational rise of Andreas Rüedlinger from the 17th place to the 6th place in the end, to the “tumble” of the Swede Oskar Sjöberg (OK Linné), from the 4th position to a place outside the top-10.

In the end, Thierry Gueorgiou was very satisfied with his victory, “even though that the start field of the competition wasn't stronger than previous editions.” For the multi-champion French, “the set of four races of the Portugal O' Meeting ended up for being a very positive test for the following moments, showing that I made very few mistakes and I'm in a good shape. Talking about this last course, Thierry said: “It was what I was waiting for, a mixture of all the terrains of the preceding stages, which became very interesting with the more technical parts of the second and third days and many options at the longest legs.” For the moment, the balance “is very positive”, but “we are facing the European Championship and there are still many things to improve. From now on, is to work even harder, still get much training volume and I hope that all this work can be rewarded”, he concluded.

Technical demanding terrain”

Eighth placed at the end of the first stage, Jan Prochazka managed to rising steadily on the overall table, reaching the final second position. It's something that the athlete comments this way:
“After the first course I was quite surprised with my result, but the young Swedish guys started really strong, having doing a good job. I wasn't so much in front of the results since the beginning, but after the two Middle Distances I got a clear second position and I said to myself that I could keep it.”

Asked about the best of the four stages, Jan elects the second one, “nicer that the third stage, even if I stayed scared because of the problems with the readability of the map” and talk about this another experience in Portugal: “When I ran the Model Event, I didn't expect too much, but in the end it was quite technical demanding terrain and I enjoyed it a lot. Last weekend, at the Mediterranean Championships, I felt like I had lost some speed, but the three first stages at POM saying that my speed is getting better and better. I 'll work on it during the next month and I hope to be ready to run fast in the European Championships, which I think it would be very important.”

Lisa Risby, surprisingly (or not)

In the Women Elite class, Simone Niggli (OK Tisaren) was again in focus, making a great course in the time of 1:14:46 to 10,5 km of distance. The Swedish Annika Billstam (OK Linné) achieved the second fastest time, spending more one minute and a half to the winner, while the third placed was the Finnish Riina Kuuselo (Tampereen Pyrintö), redeeming from the less successful results in the previous stages and ending 2:11 behind the winner. Overall the four stages, Simone Niggli was the winner, what happens for the fifth consecutive time and the sixth time in general (the athlete won her first POM at the beginning of her brilliant career, in 2002).

Winner yesterday of the Middle Distance WRE course, Maria Magnusson ( Sävedalens AIK ) knew how to keep the second position, finishing with a little more than ten minutes from the winner overall. The Junior World Champion of Long Distance and Vice World Champion of Middle Distance, the very young Swedish Lisa Risby (OK Kare) also deserves the title of star of this edition of the Portugal O 'Meeting, climbing five places in the final stage and getting an honourable third position. Second placed at POM 2013, the Swedish Annika Billstam was sensational in this last stage, finnishing in the fourth final position. On the other hand was the Swedish Kristin Lofgren (Varegg), third in the start to the last stage and finally beated to the hardness of the course, falling to the 9th final position.

Always worth to coming to the Portugal O' Meeting”

Like Thierry Gueorgiou, also Simone Niggli expressed her satisfaction in the end of the event: “Of course, I'm very happy and glad with this overall victory and I think that I did three good races and one very bad. Otherwise, I was stable all the week and at the weekend, and it was another nice experience in a very surprising and demanding terrains, so always worth to coming to the Portugal O' Meeting.” Retreating twenty-four hours, Simone also takes a brief look at the “very bad” course: “The problem was just not read carefully enough the map. I should have done it very slowly and read every stone on the map. The terrain was something unexpected and I didn't react on the right way, but things happen and I'm happy because I did a good race again today.”

How did the athlete react when looking at the map and realize that she would revisit, in the last part of the course, the yesterday's terrains, that is the next question. The athlete gives a laugh and answers: “Yes, when I saw it I was a bit... how to say... I didn't fear it but it came to my mind and I wanted to do it better. I think it was a very fair course and even though it was a 1:15000 map scale, you're able to read the map and the controls were right settled, so you could really find them without being a matter of luck. Perhaps I did my best race today, no big mistakes and... yeah, I'm very happy.” Are we going to see you continue to win the Portugal O' Meeting in the next five years? (laughs) “We'll see. I think that my shape will be worse and worse every year, but I have a lot of expeience and I hope to come back again in the next years.”

This is what I love!”

For Maria Magnusson, to run to the victory meant to recover from an advantage of 6:05 to Simone Niggli. Impossible task? The athlete answers: “My focus was never on Simone, actually. I just focused on trying to do a good course. I felt my body very tired, but I was really full focused on the two Middle Distances and I was mentally very tired too. I didn't really big mistakes, I took it quite easy but I'm still happy. It wasn't my best course, but still a controlled course.”

To choose one of four stages is really easy: “Yesterday, of course (laughs). But I liked the second stage as well. I think it were really good Middle Distances, technically demanding, a top game. Every Middle Distances should be like these, and I really hope that orienteering keep on being technically demanding because I'm a little bit worried about the future. I can see more and more Sprint competitions, more and more easy running.” To compete at the Portugal O' Meeting wasn't in Maria's plans since the beginning: “My first plans were Slovenia, but since the test races for the European Championships were here, I went here instead. I expected a technical training camp, so this was, actually, much better than I expected. The competitions were so technical and so good, it was really nice. If it's up here again I'll surely return. This is what I love!”

Overall Results

Men Super Elite
1. Thierry Gueorgiou (Kalevan Rasti) 3:16:26
2. Jan Prochazka (Kalevan Rasti) 3:33:26 (+17:00)
3. Hannu Airila (Kalevan Rasti) 3:35:31 (+19:05)
4. Olli-Markus Taivanen (Pellon Ponsi) 3:39:45 (+23:19)
5. Jakob Lööf (MOKS) 3:41:14 (+24:48)
6. Andreas Rüedlinger (Leksands OK) 3:41:36 (+25:10)
7. Jan Petrzela (OK Kare) 3:41:54 (+25:28)
8. Andreu Blanes (Colivenc) 3:42:59 (+26:33)
9. Rassmus Andersson (OK Linné) 3:43:44 (+27:18)
10. Lauri Sild (Hiidenkiertäjät) 3:48:58 (+32:32)

Women Elite
1. Simone Niggli (OK Tisaren) 3:25:58
2. Maria Magnusson (Sävedalens AIK) 3:36:15 (+10:17)
3. Lisa Risby (OK Kare) 3:43:45 (+17:47)
4. Annika Billstam (OK Linné) 3:43:55 (+17:57)
5. Karoliina Sundberg (Lynx) 3:43:57 (+17:59)
6. Ulrika Uotila (Koovee) 3:44:12 (+18:14)
7. Outi Ojanen (Kangasala SK) 3:44:17 (+18:19)
8. Riina Kuuselo (Tampereen Pyrintö) 3:44:36 (+18:38)
9. Kristin Lofgren (Varegg) 3:51:57 (+25:59)
10. Anna Nähri (IFK Göteborg) 3:54:48 (+28:50)

All the information at http://www.pom.pt/en/

Joaquim Margarido

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