A few days ago, it was possible to see Roman Ciobanu shining brightly, on the one hand for being nominated for The Orienteering Achievement of 2016 and on the other hand for achieving the final third place in the poll. With this subject as the starting point of this interview, we try to know the athlete a little better, as well as the person.
How did you feel, getting the 3rd place in The Orienteering Achievement of 2016 and receiving the acknowledgement of the whole Orienteering community?
Roman Ciobanu (R. C.) - It was a big surprise for me to be nominated and an even bigger surprise to reach the final 3rd place. It’s a wonderful pleasure and it represents the appreciation of my effort and results.
How important is it from a personal point of view?
R. C. - To be known in the world is quite important, not just for me but also for my country. When I talk to people abroad, not everybody knows that Moldova exists or where it is, but now I believe that more people know that we exist and also that Orienteering exists in Moldova. Besides that, it gave me an extra motivation to train harder and to keep on going with my career.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
R. C. - Probably from my achievements. They're my main motivation, giving me the power for my trainings and for setting new goals. And simply because I love the great feeling after a good training or race. I also have many friends in Orienteering and it gives me the possibility to travel a lot and to meet new people.
Looking back on the season, how do you evaluate your performances and achievements?
R. C. - I've set two goals for the season. The first one was to finish my first marathon, which, unfortunately, I missed, giving up at the 28th km. The second one was to win the Sprint at the South East European Orienteering Championships, a competition that involved Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia and Montenegro, which took place in Macedonia, in September. Here I was able to achieve my goal, reaching a two-second win over the strong Ivan Sirakov, from Bulgaria. It was Moldova's first gold ever in this competition.
In the beginning of the season I didn’t have any plans to go to the World University Orienteering Championships in Hungary, but I made an agreement with a friend of mine, from Russia, that if she qualified for the Russian team I would also go to Hungary. In May she qualified and I had two months to prepare myself. There, I got the 9th place in the Sprint, which was my best result ever, and I was very surprised because the Spring period had been very hard, with some results being worse than I expected, both in Orienteering and Athletics. Also, in the Summer, I wasn't at my best physically. Before the WUOC I had had just one international Sprint start (Sochi, Russia, in March). All my preparation was made in my home city, Chisinau, where we have just 5 or 6 Sprint maps, all of them not very technically demanding.
What was the best course you ran in 2016?
R. C. - Definitely the WUOC Sprint. It was a very interesting and technical race. I didn’t do it mistake-free , losing some 10 seconds at one control, going a little bit in the wrong way and another 10 seconds on a bad route choice. I also felt a great pleasure running the 1st leg at WUOC's Relay, in a team with two Canadians. I finished my leg on the 8th position, only 25 seconds behind the leader, having lost contact with him on the last control in the forest, following a small hesitation.
What one or two things do you currently do in your training that are keys to your success?
R. C. - Because we don’t have many Sprint maps in my country and I didn’t have the possibility to travel to many competitions abroad, my main trainings are in the Stadium, while running on high speed and reading maps from other countries at the same time (thank you Mikhail Vinogradov for teaching me this on your website). I also do many trainings with virtual fences and walls on the map.
What does it mean to be an orienteer in Moldova?
R. C. - Orienteering in Moldova is just a hobby. We don’t have support from our Government and we don't have sponsors either. So, we need to work to have money to go somewhere to competitions. We have some good runners but unfortunately we don’t have the possibility to enter many competitions and to show the world the best we can do. Sergiu Fala usually gets the podium at competitions in countries near Moldova. Also the three Fomiciov brothers, two of whom reached the final A at JWOC Middle. We also have many good Juniors, but most of them don’t see a big motivation in training hard to achieve good results.
Are you already looking forward to the next season? What will be the main steps in your preparation during the winter?
R. C. - After my WUOC results, the best Romanian club, Universitatea Craiova, offered me a place in it. Financially, it will be easier to prepare for the next season. The goals I've set for the Winter period are to improve my running speed and reach a new PB on 3.000 meters, which is now of 8:51. In March I will go to MOC Training Camp and Championships in Italy, where I’ll try to improve my Orienteering technique. I'll also attend the Danish Spring (thanks to worldofo.com and Ana Grib, who won this prize and transferred it to me).
Have you ever considered joining a Scandinavian club?
R. C. - Actually, I've been thinking about trying to join a Scandinavian club and maybe moving there. It would be a dream come true. [Hopefully, there's someone reading this Interview in Sweden, Finland, Norway or Denmark...]
What would be your ultimate achievement in 2017?
R. C. - My main goal for 2017 is the WOC Sprint where I hope to qualify to the Final and there, run a fast and mistake-free race.
Last but not least, I would ask you to say something about yourself.
R. C. - I’m 25 years old and I was born and live in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova. I finished my University studies in Finances as major-accounting and I’m learning programming. I work as a financial operator from morning until 3 p.m. and after that it's training time.
I started practising Athletics at the age of 7. At the Junior level, I reached the podium in almost every national race and I got some good international results for my country. At the Senior level, my results remained almost the same and I reached the National gold for three times (twice in the 10.000 metres, in 2011 and 2013, and once in the 3.000 metres Steeplechase, this year) and was on a podium for many times.
The first touch with orienteering was in 2005, but I got lost in the forest. From 2005 to 2011 I took part in a few competitions, but I used to run safely, not leaving the paths, and I didn’t know what contours or vegetation meant or how to use a compass. In 2011, thanks to my friend Ana Grib, I met my coach Ivahnenco Serghei. I consider that as my starting point in Orienteering. I've been getting good results in Sprint since then and I was National Champion seven times [three times in Sprint (in 2014, 2015 and 2016), twice in the Sprint Relay (2014 and 2015), once in the Ultra Long Distance (2013) and once in the Long Distance (2015)].
At an international level, I took part in WOC twice: 2013 Finland and 2015 Scotland, but unfortunately without good results, because of injuries, health problems and no experience on nordic terrain. In the South East European Orienteering Championships, I was 5th in the Sprint, 3rd in the Middle Distance and 2nd in the Long Distance, in 2011, in the M20 class. In the Elite, I reached five medals: Three in the Sprint (bronze in 2014, silver in 2015 and gold in 2016) and two bronze medals in the Relay (2013 and 2014).
Do you have a saying or motto that you live your life by?
R. C. - “If you really want to do something, you'll find a way. If you don't, you'll find an excuse”, Jim Rohn.
[Photo: Roman Ciobanu / facebook.com/roma.ciobanu.1/]