Athlete of the Month

emily
Name: Emily Kemp
Country: Canada
Date of Birth: January 18th 1992
Discipline: Foot orienteering
Career Highlights: World Orienteering Championships – Middle Distance 11th (2014), Junior World Orienteering Championships – 3rd (1992)
IOF World Ranking: 32nd

Our Athlete of June 2015, Canadian Emily Kemp started orienteering at the age of 8, when his dad brought the whole family to the sport.

“As a family we already did quite a lot of outdoor activities such as camping, rock climbing, hiking, and canoeing. When we discovered orienteering it was a great way to learn something new as a family and was a real challenge! I competed a lot in cross country and track during elementary school but I always loved orienteering more”, Emily says.

Emily is the star of the Canadian orienteering with a bronze medal from the Junior World Orienteering Championships 2012 and an 11th place at the World Championships Middle Distance in 2014.

emilykemp_WOC2014Long
Photo: WorldofO.com, athlete profile

The whole Kemp family is involved in orienteering. When asked what was the moment when she realised she could become one of the bests, Emily says: “When I was 12 we travelled 4000 km to compete in my first Canadian Orienteering Championships in Whitehorse, Yukon. Instead of running in my age category my dad put me in W16 so that I would get lost and have to figure out how to read the map. It was a real adventure out in the woods and I ended up placing 3rd overall. That experience made me realize that I thrived in competition and embraced the challenge of the sport of orienteering: running and thinking at the same time. My first Junior World Championships in 2008 was also quite an important experience and I believe that it was there that I really got inspired to train hard and aim to be among the top athletes.”

“When I was younger and competing at JWOC everybody was my idol! Everyone was so much taller and stronger and faster. My dad and I would take the bus to the Middle A Final quarantine and just sit there with stars in our eyes as the entire Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, etc teams would file onto the bus with their coaches. Since then I’ve discovered that I also have my place amongst the elites but I’m still always inspired by the top women who are just such amazing and powerful athletes.”

Lives in Europe

The 23-year-old orienteer has been living in Europe for the past 5 years, in order to develop as an orienteer. “At 18 it was a big, huge, really scary deal moving all the way across the ocean; I remember saying goodbye to my family, walking through the security gates with a one way ticket to France and thinking “what on earth have I gotten myself into”? Thankfully, France has become my second home and I haven’t regretted the decision since. I’m not sure how many people know the story of how I came to St. Etienne, but in brief Thierry was on vacation in North America and while I was already researching universities in Europe he invited me to train with le Pôle”, she told in an interview to the Portuguese Orienteering Blog.

emilykemp_WOC2013LongQual 2

Photo: WorldofO.com, athlete profile

Since last autumn, Emily lives in Turku, Finland. “I arrived in Turku last September just in time to experience my first Scandinavian winter. The Finnish people love the outdoors and embrace the four seasons, always adapting to get the best possible experience both training and competing. It has been quite amazing to be living in one of the best countries for orienteering. In Canada we always had to travel quite far to competitions whereas in France and Finland there were always competitions quite close by.”

Besides training orienteering, Emily studies at the Åbo Akademi University a Master’s degree in Analytical Chemistry. “Really all I do at the moment is split my time between training, racing, and studying. I do, however, quite enjoy creating scrapbooks for the trips that I take with my family and I competed in my first (and not my last) triathlon last summer.

On average I train between 8 and 16 hours per week depending on the time of year. Since moving to Turku, Finland my favourite trainings have been any of the orienteering trainings since the terrain here is just so beautiful! We have weekly trainings with the clubs around Turku where I usually run the longest course so I can race against the boys which is a tough challenge! The mountain biking is also really fantastic in the area and it can’t get any better than having a local athlete to take me to all the best trails.”

emilykemp_WOC2013LongQual
Photo: WorldofO.com, athlete profile

“I know that I am a stronger orienteer when the terrain is physically tough and technically complex since it really keeps me on my toes. It’s then that I feel the elation of racing through the forest and flowing through the terrain spiking the controls. I have a harder time staying concentrated when the terrain is less interesting and there’s a lot of just running involved. I realized, though, that that’s a different sort of challenge within the sport and am working on improving for those sorts of races.”

Future in Canada?

“The orienteers in Canada are really putting their heart and soul into the sport”, Emily says, and continues: “They are trying to get the sport more recognized and introducing it to new participants. Geographically, Canada is a big country with lots of great terrain. Canadian orienteers are super enthusiastic and I believe we will grow the sport and do great things. It’s just a matter of taking baby steps and working towards common goals.”

We asked Emily where she thinks she is in 10 years. “Oh boy! That is a tough question! 10 years ago I never would have imagined that I would be living in Europe so who knows where I’ll be 10 years from now! I will definitely return to Canada one day to be back with my family (don’t worry Mom!).”

Currently, Emily’s next big goal is the World Championships in Inverness, Scotland, in August. “I feel like I have improved quite a lot this past year physically and technically as well as mentally when it comes to orienteering so I really hope that I will do some of my best performances in Scotland. My aim is to get the most out of the opportunities I have here in Finland and to see where that takes me. ”

emilykemp_WOC2014Middle
Photo: WorldofO.com, athlete profile

Athletes’ questions

And finally the question from Baptiste Fuchs, our Athlete of May:

I know that you have lived in France and you currently live in Finland. The dream of French orienteers is to be able to head for Finland and Sweden to continue improving. Are there many differences in the way that French athletes and Finnish athletes train? Are the training conditions for high-level athletes the same in both countries? What are the positive (or negative) differences between Finland and France in terms of improvement in Orienteering?

“I had the opportunity to train with le Pole France in St Etienne and now with the training group here in Turku so in the respect of organized training they are quite similar. We definitely do many more night trainings in Finland during the winter which for me is quite positive! In France there were quite frequently these high volume training camps where we would train sometimes three times in one day. I had a really hard time saying no to a training which usually resulted in injury and fatigue. In Finland those types of intense training periods are less common which has worked out better for me since I can still do everything but avoid injury! It has also been really amazing to live so close to such spectacular terrain around Turku as well as to experience the culture of being part of a Finnish club with a club house and everything! By living in Finland I am constantly inspired and reminded of why I am in Europe and the goals that I have set out for myself. I am incredibly grateful for my 4 years training in France and have many, many fond memories.”

 

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Previous Athletes of the Month

2015

January 2015 Andrey Lamov (RUS)
February 2015 Michael Johansson (SWE)
March 2015 Tove Alexandersson (SWE)
April 2015 Hanka Dolezalova (CZE)
May 2015 Baptiste Fuchs (FRA)

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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