There's a great enthusiasm in Alter do Chão, Crato and Portalegre, host cities of Portugal O' Meeting 2017 for the next four days. The Portuguese Orienteering Blog was in the Event Center, in the Castle of Alter do Chão, and shares a couple of interesting impressions.
It's 4.30 p.m. and Alter do Chão remains absorbed in its pacing, despite a quite unusual movement of “strange” people, speaking and behaving strangely. Contrasting with the quietness of the streets, the Castle of Alter do Chão, where the Event Center is housed, is full of excitement. From all ages, from all over the world, orienteers arrive with the single purpose of doing their accreditation, raising their bib and collecting a nice blue t-shirt offered by the organisation. They exchange greetings, take pictures in the courtyard of the castle in front of the giant card and make plans for the remainder of the afternoon and for the next few days.
Gernot Kerschbaumer explains why he's again in Portugal for Portugal O' Meeting: “Look at the weather? It's really wonderful, that's why I'm here”, he says, clearly pleased. But the Austrian, currently No. 16 of the IOF World Orienteering Ranking, is not in Portugal just because of the weather, of course: “During this week we had a training camp and POM brings us always very nice competitions”. The projects for the POM do not include every day of competition and Gernot will skip the two last dais, including the Middle Distance WRE on the 3rd day: “Because of many competitions, I'll just run the first two stages - Middle Distance and Night Sprint - and the Long Distance on Sunday, at medium speed. My goal is in the first Middle Distance”, he assures. Ending this short conversation, Gernot leaves a message to all participants: “I'm really thankful to the organisers and I wish everyone good luck, both competitors and organisation.”
Another important person again at the Portugal O' Meeting is Baptiste Rollier. “The fact that I have retired from the International Elite doesn't mean that I'm retired from orienteering. The passion remains. And then, it's always a pleasure to take advantage of the Portugal O' Meeting, a great organisation, the quality of the terrains and the excellency of courses it offers”, he explains. Despite remaining in the top positions of the IOF World Orienteering Ranking, in the 9th position, Baptiste doesn't have high expectations when talking about the fight for the best positions: “One can expect great things, but we'll see... The training was a little sidelined and this will be my first competition of the season, so I don't make predictions. Maybe in one or two months, in the Spring, things can come out better”, he says. And, like Gernot Kerschbaumer, Baptiste Rollier leaves also a message to all participants in the Portugal O' Meeting: “I wish everyone fun, that the weather remains fantastic and that everyone be able to enjoy this sun in shorts and t-shirt after the races.”