Friday, February 17, 2012

Portugal O' Meeting 2012: The party is here!




The 17th edition of Portugal O’Meeting is about to begin. From tomorrow on, the municipalities of Viseu and Sátão will host the biggest regular competition of Foot Orienteering in Portugal. Really close to the big Orienteering party, now is the time to check the last news from the event.


Since Orienteering took roots in Portugal, several agents and institutions fought by events of quality and visibility. One of the ways advocated in order to attract the athletes from all over the world and promote the sport would be the organization of an event recognized by IOF and scheduled by a time when those athletes, most of them for the Nordic countries, came to our country, taking profit of the fantastic terrains and the benefits of a gentle weather. It was with this goal in mind that, in 1996, the Amigos de Atletismo de Mafra organized the first Portugal O’ Meeting, at the Tapada Real.

Since then, many things have changed. The year of 2000 stay on the history of the event as the turning point to the four-day figurine, in the Carnival’s period. Portugal O’ Meeting arrive this year to the centre of Portugal, to Viseu and Sátão, by the hands of Estarreja Orienteering Club and Viseu Orienteering Club - NATURA and with the support of Portuguese Orienteering Federation and the municipalities of Viseu and Sátão.

A rich and diversified program

With the promise of terrains, maps and courses of big quality, ready to satisfy the highest levels of international exigency, it's worth to attempt to the rich and diversified program. On the first day of competition, since 11 a.m., the Sra. do Crasto map (Viseu) receives the Long Distance race. With the falling of the night, at 7 p.m., would start at the city centre of Viseu the Night Sprint race (extra-competition). Sunday is not “fat” only because it’s Carnival, but also because we’ll see, floating at the four winds, the flag of “Orienteering for All”. By 10 a.m., the athletes will enjoy again the Sra. do Crasto map for the Middle Distance race. In the afternoon, by 2.30 p.m., they will run in Fontelo's Park (Viseu) the first stage of Portuguese National League of Trail-O. Half an hour later, the City Park – Aquilino Ribeiro receives a demonstration of Adapted Orienteering Activity, a sport for mental disability.

The attentions in the second half of POM 2012 are focused almost exclusively in Sátão municipality and in the Sr. dos Caminhos map, where the last two races will take place. On Monday, we’ll have the most expected race of the program, a Middle Distance that scores for the World Ranking and that will start at 10.30 a.m. The last day we'll see the first athletes starting at 9 a.m., to run a Long Distance. Sra. do Crasto and Sr. dos Caminhos maps have in common the fact that they were made by Tiago Aires and represent hilly terrains with a lot of rock details, in a Pine forest area, with some areas of easy runability and others where undergrowth makes it slower. The Cidade de Viseu map, where the Night Sprint, Trail-O and Adapted-O will take place, is signed by Raquel Costa.

The artists

A true star parade, the Portugal O’ Meeting 2012 brings to Portugal, once again, the best orienteers of the world. Portugal is the most represented country, with an amount of 584 athletes, while all the others are foreigners. Finland (189 athletes), Sweden (158), Switzerland (134) and Norway (131) strongly demand the central region of our country, as like France (92 athletes), Spain (91), United Kingdom (54), Denmark (52) or Russia (50). Between the Men Elite, the Frenchman Thierry Gueorgiou attracts all attentions. Leader of the world ranking, gold medal at Long Distance, Middle Distance and Relay in the last World Orienteering Championships, Thierry Gueorgiou will want to repeat the performance of 2007, at S. Pedro do Sul, in which he was the winner of the 12th edition of the Portugal O’ Meeting, coincidently an event organized by Estarreja Orienteering Club. At that time, Gueorgiou was the winner of all the four races, reaching in the world ranking event race the highest score in history of WRE events, with 1516 points. It’s important to say, yet, that in the amount of 44 athletes of top100 that will compete in Portugal, eight of them are between the first ten, and that includes the Nº 2, Daniel Hubmann, from Switzerland, and Nº 10, the Ukrainian Oleksandr Kratov, the winner of 2011’s edition of the Portugal O’ Meeting.

Talking about the women, Annika Billstam (Sweden) and Simone Niggli (Switzerland) share the main attentions. The first one, because she is the vice-leader of the world ranking and the World Champion of Long Distance. The second one because she is the only athlete that won Portugal O’ Meeting in three occasions (2002, 2010 and 2011), having in her curriculum 17 world titles, 7 european titles, 7 victories in the World Cup and many other triumphs, which makes her the best orienteer ever. But big names are something that you don’t miss between the 132 registered in the Women Elite, 41 of them belonging to the world top100. It’s with all this Elite athletes that 37 portuguese runners will beat-up themselves, with the eyes on names like Raquel Costa, Mariana Moreira, Joana Costa, Manuel Horta or Joaquim Sousa, the last one the World Vice-Champion Masters (M40) of Sprint.

Some advice

POM 2012 is not limited to competitive edge, and "to heat the engines", the participants will have at their disposal today, between 9.30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., the Model Events at Sra. do Crasto and Sr. dos Caminhos maps, the same maps that will test the competitors in the next four days. The 11 control points available in each of the maps are of free choice and will offer the possibility to the athletes to familiarize themselves with the terrain and the types of cartography. By late afternoon, on Sunday, will take place the prize giving ceremony of the Trail-O and Night Sprint races, while the awards ceremony of the WRE event will take place early in the afternoon of Monday, at 2.30 p.m., at the Arena of Sr. dos Caminhos. Also on Monday, by 16:30, the Viseu City Hall Auditorium open to all interested to a lecture given by renowned coaches of the French and Swiss teams, Kenneth Buch and Matthias Niggli respectively, and, because everything has an end, POM 2012 will close on Tuesday, at 2.00 p.m., with the Prize Giving Ceremony to be held once again at the Arena of Sr. dos Caminhos.

There are some advice that are worth being mentioned, brought here by Antonio Amador, the Event Director. The weather forecast seems to guarantee that we will have sunny days, so that all tasks are facilitated. But it is important that the athletes are aware and comply with certain instructions of the organization so that everything is even easier. A big number of athletes will only arrive on the day of the first stage, by which the organization calls, whom you are able, to passing through the Event Center (installed in the Viseu’s Pavilhão Multiusos) during today, "relieving"  the Secretariat on the day of the first race. It is recalled that all athletes must use the POM 2012 bib. Each Team Leader can get it in the Event Centre. Only athletes with POM's official bib correctly placed on the equipment are allowed to start the race. One of the most difficult is the parking in the first two days, so it is essential that everyone can go to the place as soon as possible and follow the instructions of the elements that are coordinating this area. The space is limited and the cars are more than 1.5 km away from the Arena, so you need to have the time it takes to travel that distance. Note that all normal infrastructure of an event of this magnitude can be found in the Arenas of all races. The organization appeals to all athletes, even if not registered, to do everything possible to attend the Sunday afternoon activities, with the race of Trail-O in the Fontelo's Park and especially with the demonstration of Adapted Orienteering Activity, in the City Park – Aquilino Ribeiro, which holds the Awards Ceremony of the Night Sprint and Trail-O races, at 5.30 p.m. Everything is ready for a great 2012 POM!

All information at http://www.pom.pt/en/

Joaquim Margarido

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