Angus Robinson lives close to Melbourne, studies at Victoria University to become a Paramedic and... is the current MTBO world junior champion in Sprint distance. In this Interview he takes us from his debut, at the age of 12, joining the Bayside Kangaroos Orienteering Club, to the gold at Liberec, in the Czech Republic, last August.
What do you see in MTB Orienteering that makes it so special?
Angus Robinson (A. R.) - I like having to be both physically and navigationally 'fit' in order to race well, the fact that it doesn't rely solely on the amount of training you do on the bike adds another level of difficulty that a lot of other sports lack.
Have you a training routine? How is, in your case, a typical week?
A. R. - I follow my coaches training program which varies depending on how full my week is and whether there is a race or not, but generally it involves 5-6 rides a week of various lengths, as well as hill sprints and interval training. I do a combination of MTB, MTBO and road training as the trails are not always convenient to get to each day.
What do you like the most: Long Distance or Sprint?
A. R. - Sprint would have to be my favourite discipline. The speed of navigation, intensity and pressure on each minor decision is something I always look forward to in a sprint distance race.
I can imagine your gold medal this year, in Czech Republic, as the best moment in your career so far. Do you have another significant moments that you'd like to talk? And what about the worse?
A. R. - The gold medal has definitely been a great moment for me, and it will be hard to beat. Other significant events would be racing at previous JWOCs in Estonia and Poland, as they were necessary to build experience and control my nerves making it easier in the lead up to racing in Czech Republic. My worst experience in MTBO would have to be my first ever race, where I got completely lost, thankfully I persisted with the sport and improved relatively quickly. Just because you struggle in the first race doesn't mean you can't orienteer.
Talking now about the gold medal, an historical one, the first ever for the Australian Junior MTBO. How did you prepare for the competition?
A. R. - In the lead up to major competitions I try to do as much orienteering as I can, which usually involves riding old maps from previous events and just cycling as much as I can as well as studying old Czech maps of the expected areas.
Was the gold medal in your plans?
A. R. - At JWOC Poland 2014 my best result was 10th in the sprint, so this year I went in with the mindset that I could improve my result given I had another year of training, experience and maturity to race with, but I wasn't sure by how much.
What about the JWMTBOC overall?
A. R. - The competition was very well run overall and the training maps represented the competition areas quite well which was nice. The terrain was very steep and hilly in the Middle and Long making for tough racing. The navigation was very interesting and technical as well, especially having to change my thought process about not riding off tracks.
If I asked you a moment - the great achievement of the Championships -, what would be your choice?
A. R. - It would have to be winning the Sprint bar far!
How important is the Junior World title for you? And for the Australian MTBO?
A. R. - Having trained for such a long time, travelled to many events each year and made sacrifices to my studies and other areas of my life, it is nice to know that it has all been worth it. I hope I can use my gold to increase this great sports popularity in Australia, making it more well known and competitive. In Australia the sport is very limited, with only a small number of competitors at each race. I'm working with various orienteers on how to better publicise MTBO in order for it to grow, and therefore produce more athletes to compete on the world stage, hopefully my gold medal will help to do this. It's always difficult to gauge my level of fitness in the lead up to JWOC as I don't get a chance to race against many other competitors at that level throughout the year, so I just have to be as fit as I can be and hope it is good enough when I get there.
Have you some goals already designed for the next season? Are you able to be a new Adrian Jackson?
A. R. - Having only won one gold medal, I try not to compare myself to other riders and just race as well as I can and hopefully do it again at some point throughout my career.
Would you like to share the biggest wish for the future?
A. R. - I hope to represent Australia as best I can at future races and would love to take home some more medals. Also in the future I hope Australia can become more highly recognised within MTBO as a country that can achieve great results each year.
[Photo: WMTBOC 2015 / www.wmtboc2015.cz/sprint/photovideo/]