One year later, the winner of the last edition of Portugal O’ Meeting returns to Portugal. Portuguese Orienteering Blog talked to Oleksandr Kratov at Quinta dos Ribeiros, in Alpalhão (Nisa, North Alentejo), and here you are the most significant moments of a pleasant interview.
Facing the preparation of your season, how important is it to be here in Portugal?
Oleksandr Kratov (O.K.) - I think it's very important. First of all by the fact that Portugal is a beautiful place, with nice terrains. It's very important to train and compete on different types of terrains and because here you can keep high speed while you do Orienteering. And for me it represents also a very good possibility to set some of the courses. The maps are special. And special why? Because they are very different of the swedish style map drawing. I cannot say if it's better or worse. It's different... absolutely! In some places is more detailed... it's difficult to describe. The contours, for example, are not very precise. You see some of the cliffs and they look precise but you can't get a real picture of how big they are. Anyway, I think they are very good.
About your last season, were the results what you expected?
O.K. - Well... I expected, actually, maybe better places. Instead of the fourth place in the Middle Distance, I'm not really satisfied with my result because - how should I say? - ... I haven't done it by myself. I've run some part of the course with Thierry Gueorgiou. So... And there were other reasons, I was injured, I wasn't in the best shape. That fourth place was a good result but not the best performance.
Can you tell me something about the present moment of Orienteering in Ukraine?
O.K. - I've been recently in Ukraine for two weeks but most of the time I'm living in Sweden. Life is better in Sweden than in Ukraine, that is for sure. I can do much more training, it's better for Orienteering. Talking about Orienteering in Ukraine, I believe that the level of Elite runners is going better and better. And I think it will be even better because our team is quite young, but also because our athletes are mostly in swedish clubs.
You won the Portugal O' Meeting last year. Does that victory mean something to your career?
O.K. - It was nice to win, of course, but first of all, to me, it was a good training. That's all. In the beginning of the season, I think it's natural to face these competitions almost like a chance to train and improve the shape. I don't think that the top runners look at it as they do for the big events. But it's also very interesting to compete with runners like Thierry Gueorgiou, for example. In a certain way, we have the chance to compare our levels in the present moment, but the result doesn’t really matter. So, I think this is not much more than a good training.
This is the second time you mention Thierry Gueorgiou. What does Thierry mean to you?
O.K. - He is a nice guy (laughs). Thierry is the greatest orienteer right now. We were on a training camp together in France and I had the chance to know him a little bit more. He is better than me in many things, so there are many things that I must improve if I want to be like him. He has much more experience, that's for sure. Physically and technically he is also better than me and these are things that require a lot of work if I want to keep improving.
Who will succeed to Thierry Gueorgiou?
O.K. - I don't know, it's difficult to say. I could easily point you ten athletes, but no one in special. Actually, the level of top runners in the present moment is very high, very homogeneous, and I think that it will be even better in the future. There are many youngsters which are going to be very good orienteers. So, it's not easy to say who is going to be his successor. Personally, I count to be on top. We'll see.
Win a gold medal in the World Championships is something that you keep between your goals for this season?
O.K. - Well, to win a medal in Switzerland is my main target. Of course, I will try to get a gold medal. I think it's normal for us, orienteers, to think that it will be possible. These trainings in winter are going very well; I'm growing up as an orienteer, so I think there is always a chance to win. I'm focused the most on World Championships but, of course, I'll try to be well succeeded in European Championships also.
In the end of our interview, would you like to say something?
O.K. - Train hard, it's all I have to say. Without it, you couldn't expect some good results. I think it's the better advice that I can leave for now.