Friday, August 14, 2015

Thierry Gueorgiou: "The Long Distance felt more like a redemption than anything else"



Thierry Gueorgiou needs no introduction. He is, “only”, the best orienteer ever, confirming that in the recent World Orienteering Championships WOC 2015, where he won his 13th world title, the fourth in Long Distance. But the expectations of the “king” were other...


How was your training time? Did you feel well prepared for the WOC? What goals have you drawn?

Thierry Gueorgiou (T. G.) - Well, there has been lot of ups and downs in my preparation this year, the lowest point being reached with a big toe fracture in January. I struggled also with minor injuries resulting from this one later on. But I spent quite much time on relevant terrains (50 days in Scotland) to be well enough prepared, even though I had to give up the Relay to allow me more time to recover before the Long Distance.

This decision was taken a couple of weeks before World Championships with the team. The main reason was a sub-optimal preparation, but I also had in mind this French saying “the perfect is the enemy of the good” and I keep remembering the last seasons of two legends of our sport, Emil Wingstedt, running all the races for his last WOC in Trondheim (2010), ending with a 6th place as best, and Bjørnar Valstad, running two distances (long and relay) at the WOC in Västerås (2004) and ending his career with two new gold medals. On top of that, I realized last year, I had contributed to create a huge emotional baggage associated with my own expectations for the middle distance, and 24 extra hours to empty my head before the long distance would surely make a difference.

Would you like to talk about your amazing gold Medal in the Long Distance? Did you expect it?

T. G. - My main focus at this World Championship was the middle distance, even though the results of the last years have shown that my biggest chance was probably in the long distance. But to be fully honest, after the huge disappointment of the middle distance, the Long Distance felt more like a redemption than anything else. During the whole race, I tried to use my frustration as a source of energy. That was probably why my technical performance was far from perfect that day (too much will, too little control), but I felt released after the race and was pleased to avoid another serious headache for the rest of the summer…

And what about the 7th place in the Middle Distance? You talked about disappointment and frustration earlier…

T. G. - This race is terribly difficult to analyse without criticising the map quality on the penultimate control. But it is not the first time in history that there has been mapping mistakes here and there, and it is worth mentioning that the map has always been the same for everyone. It is an important skill to manage to keep the risk as low as possible whatever the circumstances. Do I have this skill? It is, may be, where I should put my focus on at the moment instead of blaming the whole world for my failures in middle distance.

Are these results a motivation for the future or is it time to stop now?

T. G. - It's really hard to tell, actually. Some morning, I wake up thinking it is the right time to say good-bye. Some other morning, I wake up with hundreds of ideas to change my training to still be competitive. The reality is, deep inside, I still love orienteering, and also love racing against the very best, but I see this as fun only if I am able to maintain a good enough level.

What about the French men's team? Overall, what results do you highlight?

T. G. - As a team, and if we take aside the WOC 2011 in France, which was special, it was our best WOC ever. Lucas and Fredo showed this last week they already belong to la crème de la crème! And I am afraid it is just the beginning for them. From what I see in training camps, they can definitively reach some even higher heights. I was especially proud of Vincent as well, as he has been training for many years in a very professional way, but never managed to really show his full potential. We gave him a chance at the relay, he stood firm under the pressure and delivered. I can´t forget to mention Philippe, who couldn't compete for his last WOC due to a back injury, but over those last years he has brought so much of his spirit to the team, that part of those medals belong to him as well, and his cooking skills during the WOC week made a difference too...

How do you rate the WOC 2015 from a technical and organizational point of view?

T. G. - Well, if I am remembering right the welcome words of the Event director in the bulletin, he said that athletes will leave Scotland saying it was the “best WOC ever”. For the reason mentioned earlier, for me, it sound now a bit too cocky, even though I have enjoyed the atmosphere at the arena very much. And it is fair to mention that having no arena passage for the forest distances has contributed to increase the course quality a lot. Let's hope the future organizers got inspired.

If I asked you a moment - the great achievement of the Championships -, what would your choice be?

T. G. - Well, maybe, maybe, Annika Billstam from Sweden?! ;)

The season is approaching an end. What are the goals for what remains of the season? (World Cup and World Ranking)

T. G. - Not much, really. I just want to keep training well and answer all the questions I have in mind at the moment.

[Photo: World of O / facebook.com/WorldofO]

Joaquim Margarido

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