Athlete of the Month – August 2015

DSC_1028 Name: Maja Alm
Country: DenmarkClub: OK Pan Århus, Denmark
Date of Birth: June 10th 1988
Discipline: Foot orienteering
Career Highlights: Gold at sprint relay, sprint and relay at the World Orienteering Championships in 2015.
IOF World Ranking: 12th  in Middle and Long, 1st in Sprint

Maja’s Golden WOC

Danish orienteering in general and especially Maja Alm had their biggest success ever in Scotland. Maja Alm left the World Orienteering Championships with three gold medals.

“Being a world champion has been a dream since I was a little girl, so it is unreal that my big dream finally has come true”, she says.

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She had three silver medals and one bronze from earlier WOCs, and felt that it should be hard to get a gold.

I had almost accepted that I might never win a gold medal. And now I have three, its surrealistic. It was really hard to realize it when it all happened during the week, but now with a lot of people from everywhere sending greetings it definitely has become real.”

Sprint success

That it should be all about the Danes was clear after the first medal race in WOC, the sprint relay. The Danish team was unbeatable and especially Emma Klingenberg on the first leg and Maja Alm on the last one both made impressive legs.

The victory in the sprint relay was a defining moment for the Danish team: “We finally won and managed to be World Champions”, Maja says.

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For Maja it was really hard to start in the sprint final the day after the gold in the sprint relay. It required a lot of mental work. She wasn´t sure if she would be able to make it. But she definitely did. The sprint was one of Maja´s best races ever and the winning margin was huge, 39,8 seconds to Nadiya Volynska in second place.

“I ran carefully and had control all the time. There were no mistakes at all during the race”, she said at the finish.

Sprint has always been her best discipline and she won a bronze medal in Venice 2014 and silver in Lausanne 2012.

The importance of Team 

She also managed to stay focused at the relay even if the mental work was getting harder and harder during the WOC.
“I am really proud of the whole team and all the Danish results. We managed to do the hard and necessary mental work before every single competition”, she says.

That Danish team had an amazing flow during this championship. Maja tells us about a nice atmosphere, both among the runners and the leaders. And about being on tour with her teammates as nice and really inspiring.

“It is an important reason for our success”.

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Maja was definitely in her best shape ever during WOC and she is also more satisfied with her preparations than ever.
The whole team has been improving lots of things in our preparations. Lots of small things that make a big difference in the end. Our three months before WOC went really well. We spent three weeks in Scotland in July, competing against each other every single day. During these weeks I really had to focus on beating the other girls in the team. It was good to see that all of us were in really good shape during the championship.”

Recharging for new challenges 

After WOC Maja spent three weeks in the US with her boyfriend, relaxing and enjoying not competing and training.
We ran once in a while and we ate a lot of fast food.”

Maja loves being serious and going all in when it comes to preparations for a Championship. Doing everything it takes for success. But she also loves the other way of living; “being just normal” and not thinking seriously about everything.  The weeks travelling gave her new energy for training back home in Århus.

Maja and all the runners in the national team live in Århus and do a lot of training together. Orienteering is now a part of the top level-sports program in Denmark and with that comes a lot of opportunities. The runners and the team can use national experts within medicine, physiology and psychology. In collaboration with the experts they have changed the way the runners are training and that has affected everyone. A result of that is that Maja has been training harder than before, with more intensity than what’s normal among orienteers.

The end of the season is coming up and Maja will take part the World Cup final. She is in the 19th position before the final races in Switzerland (long and middle distance 2-3/10 and sprint relay 4/10). Denmark is leading the Sprint Relay World Cup with one victory and one second-place so far.

WOC was my biggest goal this year so I will probably not have the same speed in the world cup final. But I will run and of course and I hope we will win the Sprint Relay.”

She has not yet won any Danish championship this year. “Being a world champion without a title in Denmark sounds bad. So I am hoping to get a Danish title as well.”

Three gold medals in the same Championships is hard to beat. Almost impossible. Maja has been thinking about her upcoming goals, but she is still enjoying the success in Scotland.

“I guess it never will be greater. Maybe I should stop at the top, and start doing something else. But I can’t, I love to run too much. I am really looking forward to next year and WOC in Sweden. I think it will be really big and challenging.”

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Previous Athletes of the Month

2015

2014

January 2014 Hans Jørgen Kvåle (NOR)
February 2014 Daisy Kudre (EST)
March 2014 Andreu Blanes Reig (ESP)
April 2014 Martin Fredholm (SWE)
May 2014 Susanna Laurila (FIN)
June 2014 Catherine Taylor (GBR)
July 2014 Soren Bobach (DEN)
August 2014 Martin Jullum (NOR)
September 2014 Emily Benham (GBR)
October 2014 Svetlana Mironova (RUS)
November 2014 Tim Robertson (NZL)
December 2014 Hana Hancikova (CZE)

2013

January 2013 Staffan Tunis (FIN)
February 2013 Jerker Lysell (SWE)
March 2013 Stanimir Belomazhev (BUL)
April 2013 Davide Machado (POR)
May 2013 Evaldas Butrimas (LTU)
June 2013 Minna Kauppi (FIN)
July 2013 Oleksandr Kratov (UKR)
August 2013 Cecilia Thomasson (SWE)
September 2013 Jana Kostova (CZE)
October 2013 Mårten Boström (FIN)
November 2013 Tatiana Rvacheva (RUS)
December 2013 Olga Vinogradova (RUS)

2012

January 2012 Alison Crocker (USA)
February 2012 Morihiro Horie (JPN)
March 2012 Polina Malchikova (RUS)
April 2012 Ionut Zinca (ROU)
May 2012 Tobias Breitschädel (AUT)
June 2012 Ivo Tišljar (CRO)
July 2012 Matthias Kyburz (SUI)
August 2012 Marika Hara (FIN)
September 2012 Lizzie Ingham (NZL)
October 2012 Tonis Erm (EST)
November 2012 Marit Wiksell (SWE)
December 2012 Tatiana Ryabkina (RUS)

2011

February 2011 Olga Novikova (KAZ)
March 2011 Olli-Markus Taivainen (FIN)
April 2011 Emily Benham (GBR)
May 2011 Søren Saxtorph (DEN)
June 2011 Tove Alexandersson (SWE)
July 2011 Olav Lundanes (NOR)
August 2011 Thierry Gueorgiou (FRA)
September 2011 Erik Skovgaard Knudsen (DEN)
October 2011 Lauri Kontkanen (FIN)
November 2011 Annika Billstam (SWE)
December 2011 Anna Füzy (HUN)

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