Born in Zagreb 34 years ago, Ivica Bertol is our guest today. He met Orienteering in 2008, after 13 years in Archery. Ivica is a nature lover, spending his free time cycling and making furniture. And he is also a Trail orienteer. Let's know him a little better.
How did you meet Orienteering and, in particular, TrailO?
Ivica Bertol (I. B.) - After finishing my Archery career, I was looking for a sport where I could enjoy the nature on a bike, but not just riding. So, I heard about MTBO and after a few months of practice I discovered TrailO. I found it more suitable to my physical condition after a car accident, and I've been on since then.
What attracted you the most - and still attracts - in this discipline?
I. B. - I was most attracted because of the less importance of physical skills. In TrailO, the concentration and mental stillness is crucial for achieving good results!
I remember well your gold medal last year in Italy in the Team competition. Would you like to recall how emotional was to be on top of the podium?
I. B. - Of course, it was a fantastic moment, full of emotions, which still makes me happy to remember. In a really tough competition, the details decided the winner and it was the confirmation of many years of quality, continuity and stability of our team.
Apart the World title in 2014, could you mention some really memorable moments in your TrailO career before the Croatian journey?
I. B. - Yes, I remember two great moments, both in 2010 and in the Team competition: The silver medal at ETOC, in Sweden, was my first great result and the beginning of a series of medals. We also won the bronze medal at WTOC, in Norway, which was my first World medal.
How did you prepare for the World Championships WTOC 2015 hold in your home country?
I. B. - I must admit that I don't have a special way for preparing myself! My preparation consists, mostly, in organizing events, trainings and lectures, and thus to prepare for the competition.
For just 3,5 seconds you stay out of TempO Final and finished 2nd in PreO, but I believe you are aware that things could have gone better. Would you like to share with us the way you see your performances in the last WTOC?
I. B. - Yes, unfortunately I couldn't reach the TempO final and I must admit that I didn't expect a better result. But it will come one day. Totally different was the situation and the result in PreO. What still bothers me a little are the two or three mistakes I did on the first day. Things went better on second day and I could achieve my first individual World medal so far, even thinking that I was able to do better.
I ask you to mention the best and the worst of the Championships.
I. B. - Unfortunately, the terrible weather conditions had a big influence on the competitors' performances, so the first day remains as my worst memory, especially when I saw the paralympic (in wheelchairs) competitors hardly progressing on the muddy trails. But, as I said at the time, the organizers did everything they could to solve the problems. I keep some nice memories from the other days because of quality tasks and maps, but there is one day that can be singled out as the best and this is the second day where I had all the right answers, and took the first place :)
How did you see the results overall? Were there many surprises?
I. B. - Well, I have to admit that Ukraine was a pleasant surprise. On the other hand, I expected some more from Norway and Sweden but TrailO is an ultimate sport in which small details make all the difference, resulting in big changes in the final standings.
Do you feel that, in some way, Trail orienteering is improving in Croatia? How important was to host the WTOC 2015 for the future of TrailO in your country?
I. B. - Our work has brought TrailO to a higher level in the recent years and the WTOC 2015 just confirmed and proved that. We are ready for the next steps, having the knowledge and people for doing it. Some small steps have occurred after WTOC 2015 but there is still a lot of work to the next goals.
We had a demonstration of the new model of Relay, which will replace the Team competition from now on. What is your opinion on this matter?
I. B. - My personal opinion is that TrailO Relay isn't ready yet to become official and I see no reason why to replace the Team competition, simply removing it from the WTOC's program.
Some see that would be important to divide the Paralympic class in "wheelchair athletes" and "stand up athletes". What's your opinion?
I. B. - In my opinion, the classification in Paralympic class is not correct (in most sports there are two, three and more classifications, depending on the weight and part of the body that is injured. TrailO can be harder to competitors in a wheelchair because of weather conditions and their position close to the ground and with a more reduced vision! Then we have the Paralympic walking competitors unable to jump, with lower speed of movement as open class competitors and quickly getting tired and unstable on their own feet. Finally the open class, without restrictions. Sometimes I hear comments that is fair for Paralympic athletes in wheelchairs and walking to compete together , but it isn't. One might also ask if it's fair to compete together Paralympic walking competitors and open competitors. It's the same! I think IOF should adopt, as in other sports, different Paralympic classes, at least defending the wheelchair competitors from the Paralympic walking competitors!
Have you already set your major goals for this season?
I. B. - Yes. To qualify for ETOC and WTOC, to win as many medals as possible, to teach new competitors how exactly to solve tasks and also enjoy orienteering. It will be the best season ever!
In the beginning of a new year, I would ask you to make a wish to all orienteers.
I. B. - Have fun, enjoy and be as accurate as possible :)