Sunday, July 13, 2014

WTOC 2014: The end!

Endpoint in the 11th World Trail Orienteering Championships WTOC 2014. Portugal returns home with the best results ever and a lot to tell. It is about the Portuguese experience on the last day of competition that we talk today, once again with the invaluable support of Nuno Pires.

The last day of the 11th World Trail Orienteering Championships WTOC 2014 clarified the relative positions of the final standings in the PreO competition, and made public the new World Champions, the Latvian Guntars Mankus, the Swedish Michael Johansson and, in the Team Competition, a sensational Croatia. Among the Portuguese, in addition to the entry in the top-10 - a position that fit in with full justice - the “dance” of classifications allowed to realize how close is the value of our athletes, their performative homogeneity and especially the large margin of progression that they all have. Perhaps, also, the absence of that little bit of luck that is the hallmark of champions, but that's another story.

Starting from the Paralympic Class, the 16th place of Ricardo Pinto must be rated as excellent. To the 9 points in the first day, Pinto added 14 on the second day and, with it, a final place in the top-20, at last the wish of the athlete before his departure to Italy. In the Open Class, João Pedro Valente, Luis Gonçalves and Nuno Pires had very positive performances on the second day and, although Valente has fallen to the 23rd position, Gonçalves climbed 5 positions finishing in the the 38th place, while Nuno Pires recovered seven positions, reaching the 52nd place in a universe of 64 participants. Objectively, this are excellent positions for three rookies, debuting this year in the World Championships and that should be seen as the fruit of good work around this discipline, especially in the last two years.

"One of these days things will fall to our side"

Ricardo Pinto's impressions about this 16th place give note of his happiness: “I am very satisfied with the result, the best I did until now in a major international competition”, he said. “Always do the best I know and I can” is, for the athlete, the biggest goal and adds: “I will try to participate in as many competitions as possible - national and international - but the future is always on the rise”.

João Pedro Valente said also a couple of words about his place in the top-25: “It would have been a very good result before starting the competition but after the first day and after seeing how the course was in the second day, I have the feeling that things could have been much better”. The athlete regrets, especially, for having been so close to the 12th place, at the distance of one single point: “It's even more bitter, because I had the correct answer to one of the controls for ten minutes and, finally, at the time of sign the answer, I decided to change my mind. I had doubts, of course, but these things leave a really bitter taste”. Valente also calls attention that “despite the course being well thought out, with interesting challenges, the standards has changed completely in terms of tolerance from what we found in the first day and the two Model Event, especially with some controls. I think this is unjustifiable and that the standards should be uniform throughout the competition and, thus, the lucky factor turned out to have a weight that should not even exist”. A final word to the overall performance of Portuguese team: “It is the feeling that we were very near. This time it happened this way, but it could happen in the right way and I'm sure that, one of these days, things will fall to our side. "

"I want to contribute to having good courses in Portugal"

One of the Portuguese athletes who rose in the classification was Luís Gonçalves, that evaluates this way his performance: “Things went better today than the first day and I am satisfied. I think I answered with great confidence and hardly would change my opinion”. As for the final result, the things shall not be seen so positively: “The result stay below my goal, which was the top-25. Especially on the first day I took two wrong decisions and it penalized me a lot”. Now it's time to improve and train, since “the World Championships in Croatia are in my plans”, which is the athlete's bet in the near future - "without privileging PreO or TempO” - but also “want to contribute to having good courses in Portugal, that more people appear and that competition improves”, he said in the end.

Starting by to analyse the Portuguese performance in Team competition, Nuno Pires said that “it looks like a modest result, but the 9th place is excellent, only two points away from Norway, who was in 5th position.” The Portuguese Team Official ensures that “although we had no top rating in individual terms, this is the result of three good scores and is the first time this has happened in the World Championships. Because, typically, the Paralympic component wasn't at the level of the Open component, which didn't happen in this WTOC once Ricardo contributed much the same way that athletes in the Open Class for the good result in the end”. Speaking about his performance in the second day, Nuno Pires notes that starts “without pressure”, adding: “It was so low that I failed almost immediately two controls that I shouldn't have failed. But after that I recovered, I began to make good decisions and very quickly, walked a good part of the course with no one around and therefore no reason to deconcentrate me, I did a good map reading and the result was good”. In brieg: “Today I was pleased with my performance, but I am particularly pleased with the performance of the team as a whole. My role here was a bit 'hybrid' and be, at the same time, player and coach, that makes me feel a special pleasure when the team performs well”, he concluded.

On this side of the barricade

Constant presence in Portuguese Orienteering Blog throughout the week, the 11th World Trail Orienteering Championship WTOC 2014 was the target of a coverage as exhaustive as possible, much prized by notes of our athletes present in Italy and that properly enabled to contextualize the various incidences of a multiple journey, for later recall. So, here is a word of thanks and appreciation for the work of Nuno Pires, for their care in sharing, day after day, what is passed. He was “athlete and coach”, but it was also an excellent journalist, helping to put on the agenda a dear discipline, in the most important event on the international calendar of Trail Orienteering. This thank you is extended to other athletes - Ricardo Pinto, João Pedro Valente and Luís Gonçalves - whose availability in sharing impressions was precious.

The last word goes to the work of the journalist, “on this side of the barricade”, a lonely job, and not always well understood, but we can see in the booking of visits and messages left by visitors, at least this time, an excellent and motivating feedback. This may be the demonstration that there is growing interest in this subject and that interest will translate into more and better competition, more and better athletes in the near future. A word of thanks also to some sources where it was possible to collect additional information, including through the posts of Marco Giovannini, Ole-Johan Waaler, Bosse Sandström and USA TrailO Team. Many thanks for sharing your opinions, impressions and photos.

To full results and other information, please visit the WTOC 2014's webpage at

[Photo courtesy of Susana Pontes]

Joaquim Margarido

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