Monday, January 25, 2016

Tim Robertson: "NZ Orienteering is full of many self-motivated people"

An injury on the left shoulder forced Tim Robertson to end the last season earlier than expected, but it did not stop him from achieving some excellent results. The renewing of the world junior Sprint title or a top spot in The Orienteering Achievement of the Year 2015 are proof of that. Just some topics of a nice talk with one of the most promising values of World's Orienteering.

What comes in your mind first when you look back to the last season?

Tim Robertson (T. R.) - Many ups and one very big down. I had a great year and achieved many goals that I had set myself prior to moving to Norway. Obviously, the big down was my shoulder injury that cut short the end of my season. Of course, my biggest highlight was retaining my JWOC sprint title.

Are there other moments in 2015 that you would like to highlight?

T. R. - 10Mila and Jukola. Our young Fossum team had a great 10Mila and Jukola this year. Despite the oldest runner in the team being only 22, we came 26th at 10Mila. I had never run this event before and it was great to be woken up over an hour before schedule by my excited team mates, to be told that we were currently in the top 15. At Jukola, I ran in the clubs second team and handed over on second leg in 17th position. Our first team continued on to finish 30th.

Tell me about your shoulder injury. In what way does it affect your performances?

T. R. - Two days after arriving in Oslo I unfortunately dislocated my shoulder during a cross country skiing accident. It wasn’t long till I was training and competing again but I had to be extra careful running on the snow and ice in Oslo and especially racing at Bergen Sprint Camp (just one week after the dislocation!) However, I wasn’t careful enough and one month later I slipped on ice and once again my shoulder was out. My options now were either; Have surgery immediately and miss the 2015 season or spend summer strengthening my shoulder. Not wanting surgery to affect my last year of JWOC and preparations for WOC I decided I would work on strengthening it and continue with the season. For 6 months I had no problems with training or competing until the WOC Middle distance race where I got a branch stuck between my legs and flew from the top of a sharp hill to the bottom landing on my shoulder and dislocating it again. Seven and a half hours later my shoulder was back in position and I spent my birthday watching the WOC relay that I was supposed to be competing in. I made a hard decision to end the 2015 season there, apart from sprint orienteering (ASOM in Belgium) where falling was less likely.

Overall, how do you evaluate the last season for New Zealand’s athletes?

T. R. - Our New Zealand athletes have had a great year building on previous results. The WOC men were excited to move to division 2 for 2016 giving another athlete a chance to compete in Sweden. We have a strong group of juniors coming through and our seniors are getting stronger and stronger. Being from a country where orienteering is not well recognized as a sport it can be hard to motivate runners to keep in the sport and stick to their trainings but recent successes over the past 6 years by a range of athletes has fired up many New Zealand orienteers to reach the same heights or better.

How do you see the present moment of Orienteering in your country?

T. R. - Since returning back for surgery on my shoulder and a summer holiday I have attended a junior orienteering camp as a coach and it was exciting to see the up and coming talent of our junior orienteers. Athletes in New Zealand can sometimes be quite isolated from training partners or coaches, so it can be tough to train and motivate yourself. This has meant that NZ Orienteering is full of many self-motivated people working toward their own personal goals. However in recent years, in the main cities, there are training groups starting to build and this is motivating many to train faster and harder than on their own. Recently, out national organisation has put together a High Performance plan to assist our athletes to achieve their goals.

When we talk about the Orienteering Achievement of the Year 2015, we talk about Olli Ojanaho, the big winner, but we also talk about Tim Robertson, one of the nominees for the prize. Basically, we talk about two juniors. What do these distinctions mean? Did you expect to be nominated?

T. R. - It was an honor, of course, to be nominated for such an award alongside all my orienteering idols. I was travelling around New Zealand (with no internet) while this achievement was being voted on, so wasn’t able to follow this competition closely. I look forward to competing with Olli against the current elite men in the following years.

Changing of subject, when do we see you biking again on a MTB Orienteering course at the highest level?

T. R. - At the moment riding my bike is strictly forbidden. When I return to Oslo I will again use it a lot to cross train and next time the dates line up well with WOC foot orienteering I will consider racing. But for now the focus is just on enjoying riding as cross training and keeping the navigating with running.

Are you already preparing the season?

T. R. - Yes. I started to think of 2016 straight after WOC in August, where a third dislocation in the Middle Distance ruled me out of any more forest orienteering for the year. I started to plan where I would get surgery, and how early I could get it done to ensure that I would be fit and fighting again for 2016 WOC. I travelled home to New Zealand in October where I had shoulder reconstruction surgery. I have also taken the time off to travel around New Zealand coaching at some junior orienteering camps and showing off the country to my Austrian girlfriend. I have found having a complete physical and mental break from orienteering has been good for me, making me more excited about the season ahead.I can begin to run again in February, starting with 3km and progressing from there. I will compete in Danish Spring and JK Races which will be my WOC selection trials (for the NZ team) and hope to prove to the selectors that I am running close to my full potential by then.

What are your main goals for the current season?

T. R. - Firstly to get over the injury and ease into training again. I hope that by Danish Spring and JK I will be back running worry free in the forest and fast enough to be selected for our strong WOC team. I look to make a good start as an Elite both in Norway and internationally. 10Mila and Jukola is also a big goal for me and the Fossum club as we look to improve on strong results from last year.

I would ask you to make a wish for the Orienteering community in 2016.

T. R. - I would like to say a huge thanks for all the support I have received since my first shoulder dislocation. I have been overwhelmed by the amount of world wide support I have been given to help with payment for my shoulder surgery. I hope those who have been a part of supporting me with my injury will see my GPS dot racing in the big races again soon and know they have been a part of making that happen. Also thanks to Trimtex for their support with gear, Fossum IF for the great training environment, my flatmates for motivating me to get out the door and family for their number 1 support.

[Photo courtesy: Tim Robertson]

Joaquim Margarido

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