Catherine Taylor comes today to the Portuguese Orienteering Blog's tribune. With the World Championships taking place “at home” and the attention turned to herself, it's time to take a look at the preparation and to antecipate the big moments.
I would start by asking you about the recent JK and your victory in the Long Distance and the victory overall. Did you expect such results?
Catherine Taylor (C. T.) - No, I didn’t. I have been on many training camps recently and was feeling tired before the JK. I was lucky to spend the days before the races with my family at home - they’re good at looking after me and it gave me some energy back! But still looking through the start list I couldn’t expect to win, I thought it would be really tough to get on the podium. It was a great surprise to win.
Can you describe the most important feelings about the races?
C. T. - I think the most important thing was I felt quite relaxed for the forest races. It meant I didn’t panic when the Middle distance went badly, I just forgot about the mistakes and carried on fighting, and for the Long I didn’t rush. I think it helped a lot to know the forests and terrain type quite well, so I hope some of the same feelings will be there at WOC in summer. The forests for the JK are really beautiful and fun terrain, too, so I could relax and enjoy it!
We saw you in Portugal last February. What about the Portugal O' Meeting 2015?
C. T. - One of the reasons I chose to go there was because I know that the competition is organized professionally, things are smooth and efficient, and people are really friendly. It's the perfect combination. But I think the most important reason is to have an idea of how things are going, because I've been training a lot at home but we haven't done any races like this, so it’s good to have some ideas. Actually I'm quite surprised with how well it’s gone, which also gives me the confidence to race a little bit better, because sometimes, when I make a mistake, the bad feeling continues, and the whole race after that small mistake keeps going badly. But now I feel that, with the preparation I have, I can make a mistake and easily put it behind my back.
So you are also improving mentally...
C. T. - Yes, and that is the most important thing to improve for me. So, I'm really happy with that!
And you've found a super Minna Kauppi (!)... If it wasn't for her, you would have been the winner!
C. T. - Yes (laughs). Yes, I have.
How do you compare? What did Minna have that you didn't?
C. T. - Minna has more years of elite Orienteering than I have and I think that really makes the difference. I only have one medal, but when you've won so many, you can turn on your very top performances when you want... I feel that I don't have my best races when it’s most important. That's what makes a true champion. It's good, it's exciting she came to race at POM, we can have something to aim for and see what's possible.
I can remember that you were very happy in Portugal, last year. Was your podium in the European Championships the best experience in your orienteering career so far?
C. T. - Yes, maybe! But it was also such a surprise that it happened. I believe I enjoy it more now than I did at the time, because, when it happened, there were still many races left that year. At the time I actually gave the medal to my parents so I could try to keep my focus ahead, but when I look back now, I think it was a pretty good day.
We now have a new season, a particular one because the WOC will be in your home country and the big goals are in Scotland, of course. What do you have to say, when you think of the World Championships?
C. T. - Well, yes, my main goals are in Scotland and I think it would be really fun to win there, but it is also very easy to put a lot of pressure on yourself. In my opinion, I don't feel I'm ready to be as good as I could be this year. I think there are still some years to try and improve. So, I'm trying not to aim too high, or want too much. I think it will be different, it's kind of a sidestep, from everything else in my career.
Not only for you but also for the British team.
C. T. - Yes, but of course, it's really exciting. We've all been training quite well this winter.
You're becoming very popular but it gives you some responsibilities, too. Do you feel like an ambassador of our sport?
C. T. - That's hard to say. I also have people that I look up, too, who are an example to me. I'm talking about some of my teammates, in OK Linné, and also in my National Team.
So, they have more responsibilities than you... (laughs)
C. T. - I still feel like the younger sister to a lot of people. But I think that's one of our jobs, to be an ambassador for the sport. Orienteering needs it. I have my personal webpage and sometimes it feels like I'm doing that kind of job there, too. I think it's fun to share your story of how is to live when you’re focussing on this sport, how your life is, the places you go and the experiences you have.
How important can it be for youngsters?
C. T. - I believe that it can be very important for some of them, back in the UK. It's important to me to say that this is the world I've gone to and this is what you can do, too. I guess for younger people it gives them an idea about how much fun they can have.
What are your next steps towards WOC?
C. T. - Now it’s time to make my training more specific to the exact challenges I will find at WOC. So I have a training camp in Scotland just now and then I’ll try to train well for these demands in Uppsala. There’s also 10MILA, Jukola and the World Cups to think about, too. And I’ll also try and be smart to stay healthy, not keep wanting more and more all the time just because things have gone well so far.
In the beginning of a new season, I ask you to make a wish to all orienteers all over the world.
C. T. - I wish them an exciting adventure. Go and orienteer somewhere you've never been before. Go out of your comfort zone!