Andreu Blanes' seventh place in the WOC Sprint final, last Summer, is the best result ever for a Spanish athlete in the World Orienteering Championships. He is our invited today and talks about an extraordinary achievement that he wants to see as “one more step” towards “a true dream”. This and much more to read in the first Interview of the year on the Portuguese Orienteering Blog.
This is the last minute of 2015, you are looking back to the past season and there's a moment that comes to your mind immediately. Which one it is?
Andreu Blanes (A. B.) - Not one but two moments come to my mind when looking back to the past year. The first is, undoubtedly, the WOC sprint. I had trained hard and I knew I could do well, but I didn't know how well it could be. That moment I knew that I'm able to fight for a WOC medal and the whole year's work has served to take another step towards a true dream. The second moment is the Spanish Championship, in April, where I lost the chance of running the WOC's forest distances and I made a big mistake in the Sprint that almost make me stop and let the season in white (I was dragging an injury in the adductor since January). But I decided to play all my cards in Scotland and fight for a good result in the Sprint, taking advantage of the fact that I wouldn't run in the forest.
Has it been the best season of your career so far?
A. B. - Taking into account the results only, I should say yes, it was my best season so far. But if I look to the improvement I did, I would like to think that it was just one more step and I'll continue improving season after season. Maybe the jump has been bigger last year, but the goal is to continue looking forward to getting even better and going as far as possible.
What is missing to turn your seventh place into a WOC podium position, making your dream come true?
A. B. - The only thing missing is time and work. This year, as I said, I could confirm that I'm on the right track. It gives me a lot of confidence and motivation and I will continue struggling in this same direction.
How disappointed you were of not being included in the Orienteering Achievement of the Year 2015's final poll?
A. B. - It wasn't a disappointment at all. The finalists' results were better than mine. Maybe if you come from South (Spain and Portugal), it's very difficult to reach the medals because no one has done it before, but I take it as that “it wasn't the moment yet.”
To talk about Olli Ojanaho – the Orienteering Achievement's male winner -, Tim Robertson, Simona Aebersold or Sara Hagström is talking about youngsters looking for conquer the World of Orientering soon. I would like to know your opinion.
A. B. - I see young people coming forward, but they are perhaps not as close to the “old” as a few years ago, where people like Bergman, Kyburz, Boström, Leandersson and others were fighting for medals in the early years (all born in the 90's). But this is not normal and you have to go step by step. My generation (91) is fighting and we have several WOC and EOC top 10 results. I was very pleased to see Lucas Basset leaving just two seconds to the gold in the Middle Distance; he beat me in the JWOC when I was second and is now winning WOC medals, which means that we were pretty good juniors, but we had to wait a few years until make the leap to the elite. Perhaps it was the reason why I gave my vote to Lucas. It's difficult to compare achievements in different classes, but Olli and Tim are athletes that soon will be fighting for medals in WOC.
Have you already start the preparation of the new season? How are you designing the winter period?
A. B. - This season has started well, soft, the WOC is very late and a really long season is waiting us, but it's time to start what really matters and face it seriously. I'll see you in the Portugal O' Meeting, that's for sure; it is a “must” every year and I'll be there this time too.
What are your personal goals for 2016?
A. B. - I want to keep improving step by step this season. Last year was perhaps the “appearance” and I hope 2016 will be the “confirmation” year.
In the beginning of a new year, I ask you to make a wish for all orienteers around the world.
A. B. - I wish you to stay healthy, that's what really matters. If you have good health, you'll find happiness at any forest.