There it is, the Portugal O' Meeting 2015. From 12th to 17th February, the municipalities of Mira and Vagos, on the south coast of the District of Aveiro, hosts the biggest event of the Foot Orienteering calendar in Portugal. Among the nearly two thousand expected participants, the highlights are to the pair World Champion of Middle Distance, Olav Lundanes and Annika Billstam.
Five years after the magnificent journey of Figueira da Foz, the Portugal O' Meeting returns to the dunes of the “Silver Coast”, for its 20th edition. The organizational responsibility lies for the fourth time in the event's history on the Clube de Orientação de Estarreja, in partnership with the Portuguese Orienteering Federation and International Orienteering Federation, Municipality of Mira and Municipality of Vagos. Consisting in a Model Event, a Trail Orienteering course and six Foot Orienteering competitions - one of which, the Mixed Sprint Relay, is a novelty in our country -, the event is spread over six days, having 26 km2 of new maps and about 600 controls in the terrain.
Organized for the first time in 1996, was in 2000 that the Portugal O' Meeting was linked definitively to the four-day model, an initiative by the Ori-Estarreja club, held in Mira. In 2007, again by the hands of the Ori-Estarreja, the Portugal O' Meeting entered in the “modern age”, thanks to a great promotional investment, resulting in the presence at S. Pedro do Sul of 1562 participants, of which more than one thousand foreigners. In 2012, still and always by the hands of the Ori-Estarreja, the POM saw its technical quality recognized at the highest level, with the award of the “Course of the Year” prize, thanks to Bruno Nazário course setting of the WRE race at Senhor dos Caminhos map, Sátão. How will it be in 2015?
Mira and Vagos, two hosts for a big event
On the day that was turned the barrier of the 1500 entries, the Portugal O' Meeting 2015 presented itself to the media. The press conference took place last Friday in the late afternoon, in the Town Hall of the Municipality of Mira and was attended by the Mayors of Mira and Vagos, respectively Raúl Almeida and Silverio Regalado, by Diogo Miguel, President of the Clube de Orientação de Estarreja and Bruno Nazario, the Event Director.
From the presentation of POM 2015, highlights to the note left by Bruno Nazario stating four well-defined goals for this year: “Bring to the municipalities hundreds of visitors, attract local people to the event, organize a World level event and [last but not least] be the POM with the highest number of participants ever”. The Event Director also stressed “the great receptiveness of Mira and Vagos municipalities to host the POM 2015”, an aspect well reflected in the words of the two Presidents, unanimous in pointing out the event as “a factor of development of sport tourism and tourism of nature”, providing “further dissemination of the two municipalities and the region”. The idea, according to both, is to continue to attract events with this impact, jointly, as “the relationship between the two cities is excellent and fruitful”, they said.
Starts of POM 2015
With 1782 participants from 26 countries officially registered until now, time to look at the biggest names of this vast list. Number 1 in the IOF World Ranking, the norwegian Olav Lundanes is the brightest star of POM 2015. Currently World Champion of Middle Distance, Lundanes also has two world titles and two European titles to his credit, as well as seven wins in stages scoring for the World Cup, four world junior titles and two victories in the “classical” Jukola Relay. In the women's class, the Swedish Annika Billstam is the big name, holding the title of World Champion of Middle Distance and ranked 5th in the IOF World Ranking (she also was World Champion of Long Distance in 2011 and won three stages scoring to the World Cup). Gustav Bergman (Sweden), Baptiste Rollier and Martin Hubmann (Switzerland), Magne Daehli (Norway) and Edgars Bertuks (Latvia) are other names to consider at the level of the Men Elite, in a list that includes 8 athletes from the top 25 of the ranking of the International Orienteering Federation, four of which in the top 10 (Lundanes #1, Bergman # 7, Rollier #8 and Daehli # 9). Among the Women, a word also for the Norwegian Mari Fasting, 6th ranked at the IOF World Ranking, for the Finnish Sofia Haajanen and Minna Kauppi, respectively 12th and 14th in the World Ranking, for the Swedish Maria Magnusson, 20th in the table and to the French Amélie Chataing , which currently occupies the 24th position in the IOF World Ranking.
Finally, a look at the POM 2015's program that has at the Long Distance stage of the third day, scoring for the world ranking, its highest point. The competitive program is completed by two other Long Distance stages, on the first and last day of the event, and a Middle Distance stage on the 2nd day. The four stages are scoring for the Portuguese League 2015. Scoring for the Portuguese Trail Orienteering League Invacare 2015, the Invacare PreO POM will be held in the afternoon of the 2nd day, counting so far with 90 entries from 13 countries. A Mixed Sprint Relay, on February 13th and a Night Sprint at Praia de Mira, the next day, complete the program. The last words are addressed by Bruno Nazario to the unsettled: “The Portugal O' Meeting is an event to whom everyone expects. We offer the widest area of new maps ever made for an edition of POM and challenging courses setted thinking on the satisfaction of all those who come to Mira and Vagos. It's my invitation to moving up here, between the 12th and 17th February, and participate in the biggest Orienteering party in Portugal. "
[Photo courtesy of Bruno Nazario]