Thursday, July 07, 2016

ETOC 2016: Two gold medals for Ola Jansson

When the second day of the PreO competition came to an end in Vápenná and the European Champion in the Paralympic class was known, the name of Ola Jansson didn’t surprise anyone. The athlete with more medals than anyone else in the challenging discipline of Trail Orienteering once again didn’t fail at the decisive moments, winning his third individual gold in the last four editions of the European Trail Orienteering Championships and the first gold ever in the TrailO Relay.

Born 50 years ago in Björklinge, 90 km north of Stockholm in Sweden, Ola Jansson has always been interested in sport. A big fan of Cross Country Skiing in his youth, he always aimed for a good race and even ran the Stockholm Marathon. However he devoted most of his sporting career to Floorball, until 2006 when a serious injury in his left knee forced him to stop. At that time Orienteering had already come into his life, and in 1998 he made contact with TrailO. “I was no longer able to run in forests and it made me look to TrailO” he says, adding that the fascination of this discipline has to do with “the challenge of interpreting the terrain through the map-reading.”

Ola Jansson has been tremendously effective in international TrailO competitions so far, winning more gold medals than anyone in both European and World Championships. Those who share a daily routine with him know that he often reacts badly to pressure and can be very nervous, but the person we see while competing is a completely different Ola, particularly at the decisive moments when nerves of steel are the most important requirement for success. “I relish the extra tension that builds up on the second day, when the races are generally decided”, Ola confesses. That’s maybe why we could see him at his highest level in the last and decisive leg of the TrailO Relay that opened ETOC 2016: “I was looking forward to the Relay and I wanted to see how able I would be in handling this new format. I felt motivated to do the last leg and be part of the deal at the last station – a spectator station – although the pressure was increased by knowing that I needed to get it right to win the gold.” And he did it! “It was fun to win a Relay as a team; there, you need to support and encourage each other”, he says.

It was gold again for Ola in the PreO, and he recalls the most impressive moments during the two-day competition: “It was all difficult, and especially hard to read and solve all the slopes and stones in the quarry on the second day”, he remembers. Ola also left some words for the ETOC organisers: “The maps were really good and the terrain was fun, demanding a good standard of map-reading; a bit of a shame with problems in the results of the Relay, but in general the organising work and the information was good.”

The 2016 World Trail Orienteering Championships on home ground is the next big challenge and Ola Jansson can’t wait for it. “I’m looking for fine summer weather, fun courses and challenging map-reading”, says Ola. The goal is, as always, the gold, but… “I’ll be satisfied if I take a medal”, he adds, listing the names of his major opponents: “Michael Johansson, Vladyslav Volk, Jana Kost’ova, Søren Saxtorph …” and others. The last words goes to his biggest dream: “Right now I don’t exactly have a dream, but we never know if I’ll have some soon…”

Text and photo: Joaquim Margarido

[See the original article at Published with permission from the International Orienteering Federation]

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