I would like to ask you to share your final opinions about your participation in the Norte Alentejano O' Meeting 2015.
Oleksandr Kratov (O. K.) - I enjoyed the races and the terrain as well. As always, I’ve got some really nice experiences in a very good competition here. Also the map was great. I’ve been here before, with this kind of “old style” map and it was okay. But now, the terrain it’s extremely well mapped, perfectly readable and it’s a pure joy to run and read it. It’s amazing.
It was the perfect end of this training period...
O. K. - No, it’s not an ending in this period. It’s just a part of it. We aren’t even close to the end of the winter training. But yes, it was a really nice competition and, first of all, a good training for us. A great experience. It was exactly what I was looking for: really nice terrains, huge quality maps, a really good competition and an organization top level. It’s difficult to complain about anything at all.
I believe that there was something to complain in your case (laughs)
O. K. - About the Sprint, you mean? Yeah… In some points, I couldn't agree with the Event Adviser, but he kept his opinion, I kept mine. We’ve been arguing quite a lot, but I hope he hasn't been too angry with me (laughs).
What will be the next step in your training plans?
O. K. - First of all, we will spend almost three weeks in Portugal, so I’m still looking for the rest of the time here. We’ll stay a few days in Idanha-a-Nova, where we’ll compete in the Meeting next weekend, and then at Viseu. We decided to skip the Portugal O’ Meeting this year, mostly because of the terrains. I can’t say that I don’t like these sand dune terrains but I’m quite familiar with them, they are very common in Ukraine. I think it’s a nice terrain to train some times, but Viseu, for example, it’s a little bit different, more extreme, more challenging. I prefer that.
All of this, pointing to Scotland and to the World Championships, I believe.
O. K. - Yes, of course.
What would be a nice result there?
O. K. - My goal is to take home a medal. The most interesting part is the question: will I succeed or not?
How do you see Orienteering in Ukraine?
O. K. - Right now it’s quite a hard time for Ukraine in general, because of the conflict. It’s a really tough time, just economically, does having a big influence in Orienteering as well. You can imagine that, for a family, it can be very difficult to support their children doing Orienteering. The trips cost too much and the majority of the families don't have the capability to do that. It’s tough. Luckily, the top runners are based in Scandinavia, mostly. We don’t have many good runners but the best have a really good training environment and I still hope that we’ll improve as a team. We have two really good girls and five good guys and I’m looking forward to how they will improve during this year.
And you are the reference inside the group (!) . Your fifth place in the IOF’s World Ranking means something to you or it’s just a number?
O. K. - Well, it’s difficult to say. Of course, it shows something but not too much. I don’t live obsessed by the ranking, I’m not worried if Thierry is placed after or before me. But it creates some kind of responsibility. Within the team, I’m a sort of National Coach, I try to maintain permanently the contact with everybody, to help them a little, to give some advices. We have a good team and, of course, we try to help each other in order to develop our orienteering.
How do you see the present moment of Orienteering. Are we running in the right way?
O. K. - There are a lot of different opinions about it. In my point of view, there are things I think aren’t very optimal, but I believe there are reasons why it is going this way. For example, I really like forest orienteering and I’m not a big fan of urban races but still – and I always said that -, when I was watching the Mixed Sprint Relay last year, in the World Championships, it was very exciting, even if it wasn’t so much about orienteering. It wasn’t challenging or interesting orienteering and for a good runner it looked really boring, actually, but for a spectator it was really nice to watch just the competition. So I think this isn’t a really good thing to develop orienteering in a technical way, but to make sure people know orienteering and to the media it was, maybe, the best thing that we have until now.
And what about the World Cup?
O. K. - The World Cup is really strange in my opinion and it should be better. Australia, for example. Of course that we’ve to try to spread orienteering all over the world but, when you have to count ten out of eleven stages or something like this, and you don’t belong to a strong nation, then forget the World Cup. Another example are the quotes for the Long Distance Final, which is not the best thing for the weaker nations. You get less runners, so it would be more difficult to get back to the second level or first level. It’s quite a tricky system.
How long are we going to see you doing orienteering?
O. K. - Orienteering is very important to me, it’s my life. Since I decided, last May, to be professional, the question is to know how long I would be able to manage that. But I’ll try for it to be a reality as long as possible. Before that, I was intending to combine my professional activity with orienteering and I could do it quite well, I can’t complain, I had some good results. But I always had the feeling that it wasn’t the best way to prepare to get higher rankings, so it was my decision to professionalize myself, to see how far I could go. And for now, I really feel the difference between to do just orienteering or to combine it with something else. There’s a big difference.
In the end of our conversation, I would like to ask you to make a wish.
O. K. - Most of all, I wish peace for Ukraine. And that I may joy the pleasure of orienteering for a long time.