Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Annika Billstam: "I never expected a gold medal at the WOC"

By winning the Middle Distance world title for the second year in a row, Annika Billstam signed one of the most beautiful pages of the World Orienteering Championships 2015. To the Portuguese Orienteering Blog, the great Swedish athlete remembers the moment and outlines the summary of a week full of emotions.

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

Annika Billstam (A. B.) - My training towards the WOC was interrupted by a long virus infection during most of May, missing out on some important races such as Tiomila and a couple of Swedish selection races. It was bad timing but I convinced myself that my good training through winter and early spring (I decided not to take part in the World Cup during January to focus 100% on WOC) could pay off when combined with a good plan for the last preparations. I decided that it was just enough time to get fully prepared.

Would you like to talk about your gold Medal in the Middle Distance, repeating the amazing title achieved in Italy? Did you expect it?

A. B. - I never expected a gold medal at the WOC. Even if you feel fully prepared and do your best, your competitors might just have a better day, which is something you can't control. But I believed I had a chance. I felt really obliged to fulfil my goal of a clean race and also grateful to be able to bring inspiration and feelings to those following me with my result.

And what about the bronze in the Relay? What feelings do you keep from the race?

A. B. - The Relay was a mix of feelings for me. We won the bronze after a tight sprint finish on the last leg and we were very happy about the result. My race was ok and a better race wouldn't have made the result list much different. That day the Danish girls were simply the best !

How angry are you with the 15th place in the Long Distance?

A. B. - The Long Distance was a different race from any I have ran in any WOC. Usually I have a feeling of where I lose time, but not during this race. I made one big mistake just before the arena, which was the mistake I “felt”. The flow feeling was as good as expected throughout the race. Analysing the splits, I lost a great amount of time on two of the longer legs because of wrong route choices. I never thought they were that decisive. I was not angry but felt empty knowing WOC was over.

What motivation do these results represent for the future?

A. B. - I'm still in a state where I enjoy and reload. I’ll see which direction my motivation will point out in the future.

And what about the Swedish team? Overall, what results do you highlight?

A. B. - Of course Jonas' gold in Sprint was very well deserved and a great achievement after several top national results. That gold also “kicked-off”/set the level for the Swedish team for the rest of the week. I also would like to highlight Olle Boström's bronze in Middle Distance, his first WOC-medal, and I'm sure you will see more from him in the future.

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

A. B. - Organizing a WOC is a big task. Overall it was well done. As an athlete I appreciated the organization's choice to skip arena passages in Middle and Long to make the best for the competition.

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

A. B. - The Danish girls' show in Relay – impressive!

The season is approaching its end. What are the goals for what remains of the season?

A. B. - I’ve decided to go to the World Cup final to end my season.

[Photo: Ethan Childs /]

Joaquim Margarido

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