IOF WOC Clinic supporting smaller o-nations
There are 39 nations at the start of WOC 2021 including countries from North and South America, Europe, Africa, Australia, and Asia. The Championship is not only an opportunity to celebrate the best runners, but it also gives a chance to promote orienteering and include countries where orienteering does not have such a long history. An initiative called IOF Clinic which is happening for the tenth time during WOC 2021 aims at supporting countries that do not have enough resources to send athletes to the Championship and support them during training.
The first IOF WOC Clinic was held in France during WOC 2011. Besides participation at the Championship, the programme of the Clinic includes training sessions and lectures on different subjects of orienteering development and technique. This year´s IOF Clinic is taking place in Doksy, from 29th June to 10th July and is represented by 10 participants (3 women and 7 men) from 3 continents (South America, Africa, and Europe), and 8 countries (Argentina, Moldova, Serbia, Slovenia, Romania, the Netherlands, Egypt, and North Macedonia). The biggest success of this year’s IOF clinic is 16th place Eef van Dongen from the Netherlands in the finals of the sprint in Terezín. The Dutch finished just a minute and eleven seconds behind the winning Tove Alexandersson. (See an interview with Eef van Dongen at the end of the article.)
One of the participants of the IOF Clinic is Gerardo Garcia from Argentina who is starting the first orienteering club in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina. He believes the club´s trainings will be predominantly focused on sprints as a proper forest is 1600 km away in Patagonia. Also because of that, he was glad for the opportunity to train in the Czech terrains before WOC: “I think I have the least experience out of all the runners. We were locked down for about nine months, we couldn’t go out running. Where I live it’s completely flat and all the maps in Argentina are pretty much made by me so I couldn’t train a lot in the last year and a half. I had just a very short time before WOC with the clinic which helped me a lot to have a glimpse of the terrain. I was in these sandstone terrains some four years ago and I will try my best.“
Mario Koteski from North Macedonia started with orienteering nine years ago, but only got to experience the Czech sandstones terrains shortly before WOC when he ran two trainings during the Clinic. “Orienteering community in North Macedonia is still really small. This year there are two of us at WOC. My goal for this Championship is to finish all the races, especially the long because I haven’t run such a long race till now,“ said Koteski who is running his first WOC.
Another WOC clinic participant Sava Lazic from Serbia was preparing for the Championship in Kopaonik National Park on the maps done by Czech mappers. In contrast to that Ivan Fomiciov from Moldova hasn´t had many options to prepare in similar terrains to these in Czechia. However, he had a great race during the middle distance final, finishing at 39th position. „Because of the pandemics I couldn´t train or race in other countries, and in Moldova aren’t many stony terrains. I have to say the organisation of WOC is at the highest level, I will come back to the Czech Republic as soon as possible,” said the Moldovian athlete after the middle distance final.
Interview with Eef van Dongen (NED)
WOC 2021 results: 16th in sprint, 35th in long, 50th in middle
How did you get to the IOF Clinic programme?
I saw the advertisement on the website of WOC 2021. I thought that since the Netherlands doesn’t have the money to support runners I can try my luck and apply. In the end, I got through so I’m very happy about that.
Did the Clinic help you to prepare for the Championship?
Yes, I’m not even sure if I would be competing here in the forest otherwise because I’m really just a beginner in the forest and I’m a bit better in the sprint. It went super well today so it’s an experience I would never have had without the Clinic.
You did very well in the sprint, coming third in the qualification and 16th in total after the final. How was the race for you?
I enjoyed it a lot, my aim was to get into the final so I was running really hard in the qualification because I thought it will be very tied. When I heard I’m coming third it was crazy and I was super happy.
How did you like the course and the terrain?
It was very unique. And maybe because I am less experienced in a way it´s easier so I had lots of respect for the terrain.
How do you like the organisation of the Championship overall?
I really love the terrain, the middle distance was super difficult for me. With my trainer, we discussed what we should do in the week of preparation before WOC should we focus on getting physically ready for the sprint or should I learn as much as possible. We decided to take as much experience from all the WOC disciplines as we could, rather than focusing only on sprint, so the last week before WOC was the most orienteering training I’ve ever done in my life. We stayed in Bedřichov and focused on the middle.
When did you start with orienteering actually?
I took a beginners course in 2018 in Zurich.
Impressive, congratulations on great performances and good luck.