Monday, January 05, 2015

IOF's Athlete of the Month: Andrey Lamov, big favourite at European and World Championships

Our Athlete of January 2015, Andrey Lamov was born into orienteering. He has always received very good advice from his mum, and is now stronger than ever ahead of two important championships this season.

Name: Andrey Lamov
Country: Russia
Born: March 9th 1986
Home town: Cherepovets, in the Vologda region about 500 kilometres north of Moscow
Discipline: Ski Orienteering
Career highlights: World Ski Orienteering Championships: Sprint and Long Distance gold in 2009, Relay gold in 2013. Ski Orienteering World Cup overall winner in 2014.
IOF World Ranking position: 1st

The number one in the Ski Orienteering World Rankings was first introduced to orienteering when he was 8 years old. “That wasn’t such a good experience, but anyway I was hooked! When I was 12 I tried ski orienteering. In the Russian Championships in M14 I finished in third place: that was my first success in skiO. By that time I was already skiing pretty well, and my results got better and better,” Andrey says.

When he was 15 years old he watched two races at the European Championships in Vologda, only 100 kilometres from his home town. “I saw the skiO elite there and was very impressed. I especially remember red-haired Matti Keskinarkaus. He won at Middle Distance so easily and also won the World Cup overall. At that time I wasn’t dreaming about being amongst the best, but I think something of what I saw must have affected me.”

The junior years

As a junior he did very well in both foot and ski orienteering. He took part in two Junior World Championships in foot orienteering – in 2005 and 2006. His best result was seventh place in the Relay in Lithuania in his last junior year.

However his number one sport was already ski orienteering. At the 2006 Junior World Championships in Ivanovo, also in Russia, he won four out of four possible gold medals. “I remember that I was especially happy to win the first gold medal on Sprint, even though it wasn’t a perfect race. The other medals didn’t mean quite so much. I was just happy that I had been orienteering well during the whole week. Before that, my results were quite unstable; I could win one day and be some minutes after the leader the next day. So the races in Ivanovo were important because they made me feel more confident that I could have several good races in a row.”

Varied training achieves success

Since Andrey’s junior days he has won a number of international titles, including winning the World Cup overall last winter, and has three World Championship golds. “I think I must have a kind of talent for skiO, but I have worked a lot to be better and I have always liked what I am doing. I think this is the most important reason why I have got up to the level I have now.”

What is a normal training week like?

“I don’t have a ‘normal week’! I like to do different things. In summer I can do roller skiing, running, orienteering, kayaking, cycling and different exercises for strength of the upper body. Double pulling on roller skis uphill is maybe my favourite training in summer. During the winter season I do many sprint training sessions, as in skiO you have to increase speed after every turn. When I have the chance I compete in cross-country skiing, both skating and classic, and enjoy it.”

In recent years he doesn’t think he has done as much training in skiO. “I have a model in my head of preparing for skiO and I think it fits pretty well for me. Of course it’s not ideal, and when I go at full speed in competition I can make some mistakes. After that happens, I have to adjust the model.”

Aiming for new heights

He has already taken part in several competitions in Russia this winter, and these have shown that this season is looking very good. For the final period before the European Championships he will do a few hard training sessions in skiing and a couple of skiO competitions, to wake up body and brain after a rest week. Then he really knows what he has to do. “I feel quite calm and confident before the big competitions. I just hope to have luck and be in the right mood in Switzerland and Norway.”

The European Championships are at Lenzerheide in Switzerland from January 20th to 25th. At the European Championships in Russia last winter Andrey won the Sprint, and got the silver medal at Middle and Long distances and in the Relay. “I see no difference in racing on home ground or somewhere far away. Everything depends on me and the shape I am in. I believe that if I am going to be good I have to be capable of showing my best in different conditions.”

The World Championships are in Løten in Norway from February 10th to 15th. “My main goal here is to be on absolute top form. If I am at my best I think I can fight at any distance.” He has three gold medals from different formats and he is aiming for the missing ones, from the Middle Distance and Mixed Relay.

“The standard Relay is also something that I always look forward to,” says Andrey. “The Scandinavian teams are strong in this kind of competition, and therefore it is fun and honourable to beat them.”

Travelling a lot

Andrey was born and still lives in Cherepovets, in theVologda region about 500 kilometres north of the capital Moscow. This industrial city has a population of around 300,000. “There is a big factory producing metal, and that is not a good influence on the city’s environment. That’s one of the reasons for me being away a lot in the summer and competing in orienteering. My mum was and is an orienteering coach, and we have been together to many competitions. When I was little I stayed very often at my grandfather’s where I helped him in his garden. We also spent much time in the forest where there is a lake. All that made me appreciate being out in the countryside and being active.”

Coached by his mother

Training takes up about 700 hours per year, but Andrey plans to increase the amount in the coming seasons. He has no plan to stop his career. “I just like what I do. I don’t know exactly how long I will continue, but at least two–three more seasons.” Of course there are thoughts about the Olympics, but even if skiO were to be included to the programme in 2022, it is a long time to then.

His mother Elena is still his official coach. “I usually train on my own, but mum is still advising me on many questions.”

In what kinds of ways?

“She asks why I’ve done this training session or competition in this or that way. I would say she makes me think more deeply about what I’m doing. That’s very important. I appreciate what she does for me very much.” Mother Elena has tried many sports, and now she has been working as an orienteering coach for 23 years. She wasn’t interested in competing at high level in her senior years, but she was quite good at both orienteering and ski orienteering. She likes to be active and still trains several times per week. When she was young she competed a lot in cross-country skiing and she knows a great deal about how to train for skiing. “She has helped me a lot in getting a better skiing technique,” says Andrey.

Future work concerned with sport

– What kind of hobbies do you have?

“I like reading. I haven’t read real books for a while, but I read things on the internet a lot, mostly about sport. I also like to play different sports games. Sometimes after competition or travelling, if I’m tired, I can easily spend a day on the sofa in front of the TV.”

He has studied in the sports theory and methodology department at Vologda state university. He thinks his future work will be concerned with sport. “I will probably do something with coaching since I have also studied that. But I’m also interested in nutrition and ecology.”

He has been almost a full-time sportsperson since he graduated at University in 2010, but he has also spent some time working as a personal coach and helping to organise some orienteering in his home region.

The athletes’ questions

The previous Athlete of the Month, Hana Hancikova, has this question for Andrey: Are you planning a long-term stay in Sweden?

“Yes Hana! See you in Falun :-) Well, it’s not that clear yet,” replies Andrey.

The next Athlete of the Month is the trail orienteer Michael Johansson from Sweden. Andrey’s question to him is: What’s the most challenging thing about trailO?

Text: Erik Borg. Photo: Elena Fedotova

[See the original article at Published with permission from the International Orienteering Federation]

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