After the European titles of Sprint in 2012 and 2014, Jonas Leandersson finally reached the gold in the World Championships. Zenith of a successful career, thoroughly reviewed by the great Swedish champion.
How was your training time? Did you feel well prepared for the WOC? What goals had you drawn?
Jonas Leandersson (J. L.) - My training during the winter had gone really well, without any sickness or injuries. During the season I felt that my shape was better than ever. But I know from experience that it’s not only the physical shape that must be on top during the WOC. My focus this year was on the WOC-sprint in Forres. After last year’s race, in Venice, I felt that I could have performed even better on that specific day. My goal was to go to Scotland and fight for the medals, which meant aiming for the perfect race.
Would you like to talk about your amazing gold medal in Sprint? Did you expect it?
J. L. - I knew that my shape was good and that I had a really good opportunity to achieve a great result. But I also knew there were a lot of good guys in sprint who were aiming for the same thing, so I knew that anything could happen. The race was almost perfect and I took the time in the beginning of the race to grant a safe start. Then I pushed quite hard in the middle part of the race and the end of the race was all about giving it all. The gold medal means a lot to me. This was the goal of the year and the medal that I have been missing from previous seasons. So it feels unbelievable, but great, that my race was good enough for the gold.
And in the Relay and Sprint Mixed Relay? Are you happy with your results?
J. L. - The Sprint Mixed Relay went quite okay both for me and the team. We aimed for the medals and were in the fight all the way to the finish. The other teams were stronger in the end and we finished fifth, just some seconds away the medals. I think we can be satisfied with the race even though we aimed for more.
In the relay I did a really bad mistake at the sixth control. I went out with bad direction and decided to go around on the path instead. Then I took another bad decision when I went right on what I thought was another path. Some seconds later I realized that it was just a path made by runners who had been there before me. So I tried to recover my mistake by going through the white forest up to my control. Unfortunately I lost even more seconds when I didn’t know for sure where I came out on the open yellow area close to the control. A big mistake and after that I felt quite alone in the forest. I tried to push all the way to the finish but the terrain didn´t help with such easy orienteering. After the race I was really disappointed at myself and for not being able to give Olle [Boström] and Gustav [Bergman] a better position in the Relay.
What motivation do these results represent for the future?
J. L. - I’m not sure yet. Right now I just try to enjoy the moment and then I will begin the work towards next year’s WOC in Sweden. Hopefully it will give me the energy for the future to achieve new goals.
And what about the Swedish team? Overall, what results do you highlight?
J. L. - I think we did a great team performance in Scotland. The goal was to get six medals, including two gold medals and we achieved that. All medals are great in their own way. Annika [Billstam] defended her gold from last year. Jerker [Lysell] had a lot of problems during this year so he just went out there and showed what a great sprinter he is. Olle, with so many years of struggling with injuries, is back on top where he belongs. It feels great to have him back in the team and he really deserves this medal. Emma [Johansson], with a great season, brought that shape to WOC and performed two great races and got two medals.
How do you rate the WOC 2015 from a technical and organizational point of view?
J. L. - The terrain and the courses were really good this year, with different types of terrain and, thereby, different challenges. The sprint in Forres could have been more challenging with just a few extra fences. But even during the sprint in Forres, the technical performance was the key for the medals.
If I asked you a moment - the great achievement of the Championships -, what would be your choice?
J. L. - Annika Billstam going to the finish as the last starter in the middle distance final and defending her gold medal. That’s big! Also the Danish team during both of the relay did an impressive performance. Full speed from start to finish and the other teams just couldn't follow.
The season is approaching an end. What are the goals for what remains of the season?
J. L. - The goal is to finish the season in a good way first in Sweden and then in the World Cup.
[Photo: Svensk Orientering / facebook.com/svenskorientering]