Thursday, January 26, 2017

BLOM, POM and ABOM'17: Portugal welcomes the World of Orienteering



The Winter season is here and Portugal becomes, once again, a “Mecca” for the World of Orienteering. In three weeks, Coimbra, Alter do Chão, Crato, Portalegre and Aguiar da Beira will host a triple journey having twelve exciting stages to offer. Rui Mora, Fernando Costa and Rafael Miguel are the Directors of Beira Litoral O’ Meeting, Portugal O' Meeting and Aguiar da Beira O’ Meeting, respectively, and share their opinions with the Portuguese Orienteering Blog.


They have in common the designation “O 'Meeting” [Orienteering Meeting] but it's not all. They also share a short space in time over three weeks, include WRE stages, scoring for the IOF World Rankings, rely on organizations of huge experience and prestige and, for this and much more, promise to attract to Portugal a few thousand orienteers, mainly from the Nordic countries. These are the purposes of Beira Litoral O' Meeting, Portugal O' Meeting and Aguiar da Beira O' Meeting, Foot Orienteering events taking place between 18th February and 5th March.

With this new round of big international Orienteering events on the horizon, it's clear that “expectation” and “anxiety” are terms that perfectly match with “voluntarism” and “work”. This is what about the Directors of each of the events speak of, while emphasizing their sporting dimension, the quality of the terrains, the technical challenges, the tourist counterpoint, the economic value and how important the events can be for the Municipalities where they take place.


To conquer participants and to honor the country

As in 2003 and 2011, Fernando Costa is the Director of the Portugal O’ Meeting, speaking of “a great honor for the Grupo Desportivo dos Quatro Caminhos being the event’s organization for the third time, honoring the Country and having, once again, participants from all over the world”, he says. With 1113 athletes entered so far, representing 32 different countries – the highest number of countries in 22 editions of the event (!) -, the anxiety for showing the Alto Alentejo’s excellence of terrains and quality of maps is huge. Fernando Costa reminds that this region “has in nature its greatest value. In this context, the Orienteering has being playing an important role through the North Alentejo O 'Meeting, organized for ten years now in a sustainable way and considering the environment.”

Fernando Costa is keen to point out that “the organization of the Portugal O 'Meeting has, from the outset, felt a great cooperation of the three Municipalities involved [Alter do Chão, Crato and Portalegre], proving that an event of this nature can also be a good way of bringing together those who work for the region”. A special mention goes to all the landowners where the competition will take place, since “without them none of it would be possible”, says Costa, adding that “it’s very important for the organization that sponsors, partners and media continue to believe it’s worth supporting the Orienteering and the club”. The Event Director also takes the opportunity to thank “all the volunteers who are kindly join the organization and get to know our sport” and makes a wish: “That all participants enjoy the natural beauties, the historical and cultural heritage and the gastronomy of Alto Alentejo, keeping the best memories of the Portugal O 'Meeting 2017”, he concludes.


Coimbra in the Orienteering map

The Beira Litoral O' Meeting 2017 will be the first event taking place, in 18th and 19th February. According to Rui Mora, its Event Director, “ADM- Ori Mondego' organizing skills will be tested by an event that includes two WRE stages, one of Sprint and another of Middle Distance, in the forest”. Mora adds that “the preparatory working is running normally”, leaving a word of appreciation to the Coimbra Municipality and the Council of Cernache “for the provided support”.

Coimbra, City of Students and Fado, is, for Rui Mora, “a city that was lacking in the orienteering route” and whose map “won’t run out, even with the accomplishment of two urban stages”. The Event Director talks about “high level courses with the signature of Rafael Miguel and Bruno Nazário”, adding that the athletes “will want to return”, also because “Coimbra, with its unique culture and heritage, is the perfect place for a short vacation”. The number of 268 athletes registered up to date, representing 14 countries, is still far from the 800 initially pointed out by the organization, but this aspect doesn’t seem to greatly frustrate Rui Mora's expectations: “Regardless of the number, we’ll have confirmed the presence in Coimbra of some of the best athletes in the World, fighting until the end by the victories in the different classes of competition”, he says.


Quality of terrains, the strongest side

Closing this cycle of events, in the first weekend of March, we’ll have the Aguiar da Beira O' Meeting 2017, whose Event Director advances some ideas. Rafael Miguel, stresses “the fluid way how the work has been done” and praises “the support of the City Council of Aguiar da Beira, a Municipality quite motivated for the development of Orienteering in its territory”. With the courses practically set, Rafael Miguel says: “The competitors can count on an incredible forest around Quinta do Meio. The Event’s Arena will be the same as in 2016 Iberian Championship, however the competition area is practically new. As for the Sprint, and since there have been two competitions on that map before, the organization is preparing some surprises, resorting some temporary “walls” to increase the course’s technical level”.

The number of participants is of 305 from 16 countries so far. “The initial goal of our club was the one-thousand-athlete’s barrier, even knowing that March is a month too advanced in the calendar for most of the foreign athletes. Regardless of the final number of entries, some of the best athletes in the World havee already registered for the event, so the competitive level is granted”, adds Rafael Miguel. And his last words: “I would say that the strength of this event is in its venue. In addition to the high quality terrain, the people, culture and gastronomy of Aguiar da Beira will leave all the visitors pleasantly surprised”.

To know more about this events, please consult theit webpages at http://blom.admondego.pt/, http://pom.pt/2017/en/ and http://abom2017.ori-estarreja.pt/en/.

Joaquim Margarido

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