Portugal is prepared to host the seventh edition of the European MTB Orienteering Championships. All the ways lead to Idanha-a-Nova where, over the next week, the world starts will be hitting by the conquest of the European titles in Sprint, Middle Distance, Long Distance, Relay and Mixed Sprint Relay.
From tomorrow and until next June 13th, the municipality of Idanha-a-Nova is the venue chosen for the European MTB Orienteering Championships 2015. After the World Championships 2010, the final round of World Cup in 2013 and, at the same time, the World Masters MTB Orienteering Championships 2013 - and even before the World Championships next year, at Bairrada region- the Portuguese Orienteering Federation back to receive the warmest recognition and trust from the International Orienteering Federation, organizing the second most important event of the world's competitive calendar in 2015. To do that, the Portuguese Orienteering Federation has the invaluable support of the Municipality of Idanha-a-Nova, the Portuguese Institute of Sport and Youth and almost a hundred volunteers from many national Orienteering clubs, saying “yes” in another of the great moments of the Portuguese Orienteering Federation's life, blowing 25 candles this year.
Alongside the big event will take place also at Idanha-a-Nova the Junior European MTB Orienteering Championships 2015, the Youth European MTB Orienteering Championships 2015 - here in its first edition - and the World Masters MTB Orienteering Championships 2015, calling to Portugal 376 competitors, representing 24 countries. Alongside the usual “heavyweights” - Russia, Finland and the Czech Republic - we can find in the list of participants, aged between 17 y.o. And 79 y.o., representatives from Australia and New Zealand, the US, Japan and from Turkey, among others. Portugal will be represented by a total of 47 athletes distributed for several classes, with natural emphasis on the presence of Carlos Simões, seeking here to recover the three world titles won in 2013 in M40 class, and Susana Pontes, owner of three bronze medals won in the events of Sprint's most recent World Championships and being in Idanha-a-Nova with the aim of a more “heavy” medal.
Foliforov and Benham, headliners
Paying attention to the list of 62 male athletes and 40 female athletes entered in the European MTB Orienteering Championships, stand out immediately the names of Anton Foliforov (Russia) and Emily Benham (Great Britain). Both lead the International Orienteering Federation's World Ranking and come to Portugal in excellent shape, having been leading figures in the first round of the World Cup 2015 held in Várgesztes (Hungary) in early May. Moreover Emily Benham defends the European title of Middle Distance as Foliforov, currently the World Champion in Sprint and Long Distance, set as a personal goal to win his first gold medal in the European Championships.
Jussi Laurila (Finland), Valeriy Gluhov (Russia), Cecilia Thomasson (Sweden) and Marika Hara (Finland) are also main references of the European championships of Idanha-a-Nova, here defending their titles achieved in June 2013, in Zamosc (Poland ). Jussi Laurila is the current leader of the World Cup in Mountain Bike Orienteering 2015 and is in the European championships defending his title of Sprint. Marika Hara dominated the panorama of mountain bike orienteering women in the past three years and is the current European and World Champion in Sprint. Middle Distance World Champion in title, Cecilia Thomasson appears at Idanha-a-Nova defending her European title of Long Distance. Finally Valeriy Gluhov is the holder of the gold medal won in the previous European Championships, in the Middle Distance.
Many “roosters” for a few “perches”
Also retain the names to the fight for the highest places on the podium of Ruslan Gritsan, Tatiana Repina and Svetlana Poverina (Russia), Baptiste Fuchs, Gäelle Barlet and Hana Garde (France), Jiri Hradil and Martina Tichovska (Czech Republic), Pekka Niemi and Ingrid Stengard (Finland), Lauri Malsroos and Hans Jorgen Kvale (Norway). They all boast European and World podiums in the curriculum - with six gold medals won in individual events, the Russian Ruslan Gritsan is even the most medaled athlete ever in twelve editions of the World Championships - and are natural candidates to the medals. Collectively, the Estonia should resent from the absence of Tõnis Erm and will hardly repeat the feat of Bialystock, when was the winner of the Relay World title in the Men class 2014 while Finland defends their European title of Relay (Men and Women) and Mixed Sprint Relay. Great rivals of the Finns, Russia presents itself as a strong contender for the gold – it is the current World Champion in title - and it is not neglecting the France, Czech Republic and even Austria and Denmark as sets with reasonable expectations and natural aspiration.
As for the World Masters MTB Orienteering Championships, to highlight the presence in Portugal of many of the great names in the MTB Orienteering world over the age of 40. This is the case of the World Champions in Sprint, Per Gustavsson (Sweden) in M50 and Ing-Marie Andrén (Sweden) in W60, the World Champions in Middle Distance, Jean-Charles Lalevee (France) in M50 and Birgit Hausner (Denmark ) in W60, the World Champion in Long Distance, Olli Savikko (Finland) in M50, the World Champion in Sprint and Middle Distance, Jan Hausner (Denmark) in M70 and the World Champions in Middle Distance and Long Distance, Carolyn Jackson (Australia) in W50 and Heiki Saarinen (Finland) in M60.
To know more about the European MTB Orienteering Championships 2015, please consult the event webpage at http://mtbo15.fpo.pt/.