The results in the precedent rounds of the World Cup were a good harbinger for some interesting performances in the European Ski orienteering Championships 2016. But not even Mariya Kechkina would be able to guess about the two individual gold medals achieved in Obertilliach, Austria. This is the starting point for today's interview on the Portuguese Orienteering Blog.
Two great races and two fantastic wins in ESOC 2016. Did you expect it?
Mariya Kechkina (M. K.) - To tell you the truth, I had thought I could achieve some good results in ESOC but I couldn’t predict I would win two individual races. Most of all, it’s difficult to get ready for two races one after another in a psychological way. In the past two or three years I was preparing intensively for the main international events (WSOC, ESOC) although I hasn't been able to achieve significant results. I had psychological problems every time. After unsuccessful performances in the last season in the ESOC and WSOC I had a strong wish to improve my results.
Was your preparation as good as it could be or did you feel some difficulties along the months before the European Championships?
M. K. - This season I performed well in the Russian Championships and World Cup rounds in Finland and Germany. Since November, the season was full of competitions and I managed to achieve excellent results. Some weeks before the European Championships I caught a cold. Though there was some time before the competitions, it was psychologically difficult to realize that the main start wasn't close enough because my physical shape was everything but perfect. Anyway I managed to get a good shape by ESOC.
Can you point some strong ideas from your week in Obertilliach?
M. K. - A really nice week, with some ups and downs. Thinking back on the Relay I remember a complicated feeling of discontent when your team is one step behind the victory. The Relay is a hard work of all the team members but at this Championships we were unlucky and didn’t win. I also have to say some words about Russian sportsmen. In Russia there are a lot of athletes who are able to compete at the highest level and they do this. At the same time the qualifying system for ESOC and WSOC is complicated and intensive, the rivalry is high, that’s why not every athlete is able to go through the qualifying rounds showing stable results. That’s very difficult to keep fit in an appropriate way. Probably that is the reason why only few can participate in Russian Championships with high results and after that show their maximum at ESOC and WSOC. There are many strong and perspective junior sportsmen in Russia. Most of them are children of trainers or their parents always did Orienteering. It’s a pity a lot of them leave this sport without taking part in elite competitions. They have to choose between the career of a professional sportsman or another profession. As they realize they have to sacrifice many things, only few are ready to make an attempt to become an elite sportsman.
What was the best and the worse of the Championships?
M. K. - I'm afraid I can’t say what was the best and the worst of the Championships. I could get from all races much experience, both positive and negative, and it helps me to improve.
If I asked you for a moment - the great achievement of the Championships - what would be your choice?
M. K. - The greatest achievement of the ESOC was my victory in the Middle Distance because of my best physical shape and an almost clean race.
You finish the season with the second place in the World Cup and the third position in the IOF World Ranking. Does it fit with your goals?
M. K. - I knew that reaching a great place in the World Ranking would mean stable good results and I did it. I didn’t set a goal to win all the races at the beginning of the season. The main thing was to plan my training process and to get ready for the main competitions . I’m happy that I could manage to succeed and to get a high position in the world ranking, also thanks to my coach.
We have now a time lapse of eight months until the next races. What do you have in mind for keeping your shape during such a long break?
M. K. - After the end of the season I would take a small rest. Then I’m planning to keep practicing in my usual regime.
What are your plans for the future. Are you going to see you doing SkiO at the highest level five years more? Ten?
M. K. - Next season I’m planning to take part in several competitions: ESOC, for sure, WSOC and the World Military games. I haven’t decided my future plans yet as my family (husband and son) need me and I feel I have to devote them more time than I've done so far.
[Photo: Nordenmark Adventure / facebook.com/NordenmarkAdventure]