After a forced stop at the beginning of the season due to an injury, Thierry Gueorgiou is starting to make the first steps towards the good shape. The Portuguese Orienteering Blog spoke to him and sought to understand how this mishap may constrain a season that, indeed, hasn't started yet.
You were one of the most noticeable absences in this early season in Portugal, mainly after having announced your participation at the Portugal O 'Meeting. After all, what happened?
Thierry Gueorgiou (T. G.) - Well, around the New Year's Eve, I was training in Alicante like most of the last years at that time of the winter. During a night training at competition speed, I hit my big toe against a root. That was painful but I was still able to complete the last 10 minutes of the training. After that, I couldn't walk anymore and my toe became dark blue. The next morning, I visited the hospital of Alicante, and the X-ray showed my big toe of the right foot broken in several pieces. The game was over for some weeks.
How did you follow, from home, the Portugal O 'Meeting? What do you think about the victory of Aaro Asikainen? And the second place of Frédéric Tranchand?
T. G. - During the POM, I spent several hours at the gym, biking, rowing, or double pulling, and a couple of times I would follow the live video of the competition at the same time on my phone. Of course, it was great to see a Kalevan Rasti orienteer succeed. Aaro has always had a big potential and still has a lot more to show, I think. I hope he can keep up with the flow during spring. And I also enjoyed the performances of Fredo [Frédéric Tranchand] and Lucas [Basset]. Each year, they get closer to the very top, and I am very much looking forward to training with them again. For sure, they will want to show me I am an old man, but I will do my best to show them that nothing beats experience!
Speaking of yourself, how is your recovery going, and what are the main challenges you face in this process?
T. G. - Well, I have faced some similar injuries a couple of times during my career (stress fracture labelled in 2005 and 2012). Thus, I know the way and the key word: patience. It is still a long time before the important races of the season and my aim is to be ready for Tiomila in May. I have started to run three weeks ago in an anti-gravity treadmill with only 20% of my weight and now I am starting to run in the forest again with a first Training Camp in Alicante where I only use the soft dunes terrains. There will be more Training Camps coming soon (Madrid, England, Scotland) with tougher running surfaces. But the most important just now is not to see the whole staircase, but to concentrate on the next step. As I said, it is a lot about being patient and showing mental strength. Even though, I think the toughest period is behind me and I can't really complain, since there are injuries which take longer to heal. And there were a lot of interesting sports events to watch on TV anyway...
How can this troubled starting disturb and constrain the whole season?
T. G. - All the time, even if I couldn't run, I had a map from Scotland with me when I was training. Just to keep in mind why I was doing this. With all the alternative trainings I've done, I think I kept a good fitness level, but it will take some more weeks to get the specific running muscles in good function again. Running in forest at the moment feels like being Bambi on ice. As I said, it is about showing mental strength, and positive talking now - thus, I doubt it will affect my competition season and I will be ready when it will matter!
What are the next steps in your way returning to your best shape? Being out of the Portugal O' Meeting, usually your first "check point" of the season, what will the first race, where you will evaluate your moment in a more seriously way, be?
T. G. - Of course, if I could have chosen, I would have prefered to start my season with the POM, but anyway there was a tendency of competing too much too early the previous seasons. At least, now I feel super fresh to read a map and will try to keep this eagerness as long as possible. My first races might be in England at JK, if everything goes according to the plan. But it is the Tiomila I have had in mind mostly during the rehab for the day I want to start to compare myself.
The World Championships. What emotions does the idea awaken in you?
T. G. - Like always. It is what takes most of my thoughts and I always try to figure out how can I be best prepared. Also, I know the end is close, which makes me even more motivated.
What are the big goals to the WOC: renewing the title of Long Distance and recovering the titles of Middle Distance and Relay? (Please, say something about each one of these races)
T. G. - Well, it always seems easier to write it than to do it... The Middle Distance is my ultimate goal, I have been struggling since 2011 and I think I will be quite motivated the 4th August, but the key will be to find an offensive but controlled balance - using the energy of the last years, without overplaying. As the Long Distance is the last race, it will be "all-in" and the terrain seems the most interesting as well. For the Relay, even though we lost our Relay master to the enemy, the youngsters are pushing hard and we might have another good chance.
Given the hypothetical scenario of three gold medals in those three races, will you put an end in your career?
T. G. - Hypothetical as you said and a hard question. Of course, it would be tempting. Orienteering for me has always been a perfect mix of the joy of doing something I really love (read “daily life”) and the performance as well (read “result board”). All this is deeply interconnected and it is hard to say which one leads on. I have always thought that the results should not affect any important decision and it should be more about an inner feeling. If not, it is hard to feel relaxed while competing.
One last note, a wish to all orienteers from around the world in this early season.
T. G. - Stay strong and healthy to enjoy every single moment with a map in your hand - there is no better feeling of freedom!