To a good start of the season, Anna Bachman joined a set of excellent performances in the recent EOC, which led to be selected to represent Sweden in the next World Orienteering Championships. With the big event ever closer, the Portuguese Orienteering Blog listens to the athlete's heartbeat, sometimes restrained, sometimes euphoric.
The first question is always the easiest. Who is Anna Bachman?
Anna Bachman (A. B.) - I'm a girl who loves the nature and to spend time outside. To run orienteering in the forest, of course, but also just run on narrow tracks or in the mountains. To take a swim in the ocean in the archipelago or explore the Swedish mountains in the north. I live in Stockholm where I have my club, IFK Lidingö. It's a perfect training environment with a lot of help and inspiration from the club coaches and runners. Sometimes I miss the mountains, but Stockholm offers great orienteering environment, so it’s a good place to live and develop as an orienteer.
Because of my love to the nature and the mountains, I spent last fall in Trondheim as an exchange student. It was really great to experience a new city and a physically more challenging terrain than home in Stockholm. I really enjoyed my time in Norway. Right now I’m on the last part of my studies to become a civil engineer and after this summer I will graduate, which means that a new era of my life will begin with work instead of studies in parallel with my life as a professional orienteer. I’m looking forward to it, but I’m also a bit nervous how the days will look with all the training and work. But I think I'll manage it and enjoy not always feeling that my studies are hunting me in the background.
How did Orienteering come to your life? Was it love at first sight?
A. B. - My parents run orienteering so, as a young girl, I was just following them to the competitions around Stockholm, where I grew up. I started to run by myself when I was maybe 9 or 10 years old and, yes (!), I guess it was love at first sight. But for quite many years it wasn't the competition that attracted me the most, but being out in the nature just playing, looking at flowers and finding my own way through the forest. When my parents asked me why I liked to run orienteering I answered: because I can get how dirty, wet and muddy that I want, and no one will get angry about it. Later on, one big factor for my love to the sport became all my friends and all the travels taking me to places I would never visit otherwise.
What do you see in Orienteering that makes it so special?
A. B. - I still love orienteering because of the chance to spend some time in the forest, but I have learned to appreciate and also love the competition part. To be able to run at maximum speed through the forest, knowing exactly where you are and where you are going is the beauty of this sport. Try to get as much as possible out of your body physically and, at the same time, stay crystal sharp in your mind, trying to make the best choices in every situation.
We could see you performing quite well in the European Championships and also in the Venla relay, two weeks ago. I would ask you to give us some ideas about those two moments?
A. B. - The European Championships were my first big international Championships as senior, and I really loved to be there. The atmosphere in the Swedish team, as well as out on the competitions, was just amazing to experience. I ran all the forest races and got a lot of new experiences from the Championships’ courses in a quite new terrain for me.
The Long Distance was especially a tough challenge, both physically and mentally, with all the steep hills and difficult route choices. I learned a lot from the qualification race and did a solid run in the final that I'm satisfied with. The terrain at the Middle Distance was more technical and suited me better, but I had a really bad beginning of the race in the final and lost two minutes at the first control. After that, I ran very well, so the feelings from this race are a bit divided. Not happy about the first control, but really satisfied whit how I coped with it and managed to do the rest of the race in such a high level. I also got to run the relay for the Swedish second team and had I great run on the second leg.
As for the Venla Relay, to run the last leg in such a big competition is quite special and you need to be at your best physically, mentally and technically. I managed that really well at 10Mila but some parts were missing at Venla and I´m not totally satisfied with how I coped with the challenge this time. But an 8th place is good for us and I got some more important experiences for the future.
You've been appointed to represent your country in the WOC, to be played at home. What does it mean to you? Did you expect it?
A. B. - Earlier this winter and spring I hadn’t thought I would run the WOC. I thought that I needed, maybe, one or two more years of hard training to get to the level that you need to represent Sweden. When Tove Alexandersson won both Long and Middle in the EOC she got a free spot for WOC at those distances and the chances to make my way into the team increased. After a really good spring season and a top performance at the selection races I started to feel that it might be possible after all. Håkan Carlsson, the national team leader, selected me to run the Middle Distance and to be stand-by to run the Long Distance. I can't explain how much it means to me to get the chance. To run the WOC have been my dream since I was maybe 16 and to get to run at home ground is unbelievable and it will be, for sure, a great adventure.
How is going to be in Strömstad? What kind of event are you expecting?
A. B. - The forest in Strömstad is absolutely beautiful and so fun and technical orienteering terrain. I think the week and the atmosphere will be, at least, as fantastic as the EOC. But since it's my first WOC I will come there with an open mind and try to really enjoy every part of the week.
What are your main goals?
A. B. - My main goal is to have fun and learn from my experiences. But it is also to do my best at the Middle Distance on the 23th of August and be fully prepared to be able to perform a race on the level I know I can. The terrain suits me well and, after all the training camps in Strömstad with the Swedish team and my club, I have had a good preparation to succeed with this.
Two months to go to the WOC. What are your plans for this “waiting” period?
A. B. - Together with my coach, Thomas Furuheim, I have done a detailed plan for my training for these last two months. This program will hopefully put me in my best shape ever. I´m really motivated to do the job during these weeks of hard training. During this period I will spend some more time in Strömstad with the team and also visit O-ringen for some high quality competitions and good training in the beautiful terrain and environment around Sälen.
Would you like to share with us your biggest dream?
A. B. - My biggest dream is to take a gold medal at the WOC, but I'm in no hurry because the road to get there is just so amazingly fun and I'm enjoying every part of it.