Sunday, May 17, 2015

EMTBOC 2015: Meet Emily Benham (Great Britain)

Name: Emily Benham
Age: 26
Home location: Salisbury, England and Brandbu, Norway
Profession and educational background: Surveyor and cartographer of Foot and MTB orienteering maps and a bike mechanic. Physiotherapy degree in 2010, but only practiced until mid 2012.
Years in sport of any kind: 16 years. Age 10-18 in FootO, and 18 onwards in MTBO. 2 years of occasional XCO racing.
Years in MTBO: 8 years.
What got you started: I overtrained for FootO, started biking more. Enjoyed it. Tried MTBO. Became addicted.
Other personal information you would like to share: I have more bikes than there are days in the week!
IOF World Ranking: 1st position
MTBO World Cup 2015: 1st position

What is your best moment in MTB Orienteering so far?
- My first WOC medal in 2012.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
- Improving myself, my mind and my body. I suppose on some level, I'm driven by a desire to not fail. A failure will see me obsess over it until I succeed.

What one or two things do you currently do in your training that are keys to your success?
- I listen to my body. If I feel emotional and close to tears one morning, I'll take a day off, because I know it's a sign I'm working slightly over the edge. Then I can come back the next day with renewed motivation and energy. It stops me overtraining mentally.

What are your goals for the European Championships, in Portugal?
- To improve on my season start. My legs will be faster, my orienteering more controlled and my riding will be more aggressive. If I can defend my European title in the middle I will be pleased. There is some strong competition this year and none of the women are going to be giving away free seconds in Portugal. I think there will be some interesting and exciting results.

What is your biggest challenge in the competition, and how do you intend to manage it?
- I had some good races in Hungary, but that was some weeks ago. Everyone is improving all the time, and any athlete can be strong for EOC. Picking myself up between races if they don't go as I plan will potentially be the hardest challenge, but I'm lucky to have Hans Jørgen to help me!

What would be your ultimate achievement for the season?
- If you had asked me two days ago, it would be to wheelie properly, or do a bunnyhop with flat pedals and no cleats! But since I've just achieved that, it would have to be raising my orienteering speed to a level I have never reached before. If I can orienteer as fast as the top men, I can make full use of my speed and power.

Do you have a saying or motto that you live your life by?
- Train, eat, sleep, repeat. Maybe some work!

Anything else you’d like to share?
- As a child I didn't do much sport seriously. As a teen I just 'ran' and orienteered. I wasn't a fast runner. I couldn't catch a ball. My body control and coordination was limited. I'm paying the price now, and spend some of my training time learning new skills and teaching my brain how to control movements. It took me 2 months of dedicated core stability and muscle pattern activating/learning to be able to do a pull up!! I've made big improvements away from the bike this winter and it's really helped my speed, strength and power which I didn't expect at all.

[Photo credits: Nigel Benham]

Joaquim Margarido

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