Thursday, March 19, 2015

António Martínez: "Halden is a very professional club"

Despite the excellent results achieved in recent years, António Martínez has decided to go further in his commitment to Orienteering and headed Norway, where he was received with open arms in the Halden SK. He talked to the Portuguese Orienteering Blog about his experience, in an interview where his expectations and ambitions are also explained.

It was possible to see you in Portugal last February, competing at the Portugal O' Meeting. Would you like to talk about the competition and those days between us?

António Martínez (A. M.) - The Portugal O' Meeting is always a great competition in the start of the season and that never disappoints us: the quality of the terrains, the course setting, the maps, a good level of participation, the weather... This year was great again and I spent five, really productive, days in the Dunes of Mira and Vagos, although the program was a bit hard for someone who is not exactly a long distance runner (laughs).

How are you feeling in this early season?

A. M. - For me, this is one of the best starts of the season ever, since I saw myself with a map in my hands. Physically, I feel better than in previous years at this time of the season, but I notice a great progress, technically speaking; I feel very flow and confident in the map reading. In addition, the two victories in the World Ranking Events (Middle Distance and Sprint) that I've ran in Spain, in February and March, are a sign that I'm on the right way. The season is very long and this can't mean anything, but I believe that I'm doing things well and that I will continue improving throughout the year.

I would ask you to share with us the impressions of this Norwegian adventure and how is your adaptation to Halden going?

A. M. - I felt that, in order to continue to develop my Orienteering, it would be necessary to leave Spain; and I must say that I made the right decision. But it wasn't easy to adapt to that many new situations at the same time: the cold, the dark, the high prices, the language and not knowing anyone. But I think that things are going very well and all of it thanks to the warm welcome I received from my new club.

What kind of club is Halden Skiklubb? In relation to what happens in Spain, which are the most significant differences?

A. M. - In my short experience of only three months, I can say that Halden is a very professional club, that knows perfectly what are the goals and the best ways to achieve them. There is a great sports club atmosphere, with many committed and active people, some of them former world champions and current world champions of Orienteering, which share with us their experiences, increasing the training level. The most significant differences are at the training quality level, i.e. the possibility of training Orienteering almost every day (sometimes more than once a day), in a wide variety of maps and high quality terrains, with great athletes, experienced coaches, GPS for further analysis, etc. It's a real luxury and it's something that very few are able to reach. Another major difference is in how they value those who bet and are dedicated to Orienteering. It is given all possible support, in particular from an economic point of view, organizing training camps, supporting the travel costs, seeking work for them, home, etc. .

What are the next steps in your preparation?

A. M. - The next steps will be the Spanish Orienteering Championships. I think it will be a great competition, but with a very tough program, with five races in three days. We will have some athletes who will participate only in those races that best fit with their capacities, and it won't be easy to get all the results at the highest level. But I feel very well and, maybe, I'll fight for the titles in all competitions. After the Spanish Championships, I'll return to Halden. I intend to take part in some stages of the Norway Cup and prepare myself in the best way to Tiomila and Jukola, trying to give my humble contribution to this club that has big ambitions. In the meanwhile, I'm thinking of the World Championships, of course.

The World Championships are, naturally, a subject that starts already occupying your mind. What do you know about the courses and the program? Have you started some kind of specific training, yet?

A. M. - I really don't know the terrains but I will be with the Spanish Team in a Training Camp in similar terrains in June or July. Even so, I have seen the maps and I believe that being in Norway will be very useful in terms of preparation, since we didn't have terrains like the ones where the World Championships will be in Spain.

Have you decided on what courses you will participate?

A. M. - I'd like to run the Sprint and Relay. There are many people who believe in my chances in the Long Distance, but I still have many doubts if I am prepared to be a long distance runner or if I should continue to focus on the Middle Distance, although both motivate me. I don't say that I won't run both races if I feel well, but for that I have to classify myself to the team, since we have only one place in the Middle and in the Long Distance.

What are your main goals? Improving the 14th place in Relay, achieved in 2013? Improving the 22nd place in the Long Distance reached in 2004 by Roger Casal?

A. M. - This year's main goal is to hoist Spain again to the second division (last season we lowered of division by one single point). As for results, I believe that the level of Orienteering in Spain is growing and I really trust our potential. I would love to reach the top 10 in the Relay and Sprint and be in the top 20 in the Middle Distance and Long Distance. It is difficult, but not impossible.

Finishing our Interview, I would ask you a wish for for all orienteers in this early season.

A. M. - Don't dream your life, live your dreams!

Joaquim Margarido

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