Athlete of the Month
Name: Franciely Chiles
Date of Birth: 26th February 1992
Place of Birth: Santana do Livramento
Work: Brazilian Air Force, 3rd Sergeant
Hobbies: drinking cimarrón (a traditional beverage taken from the gauchos or vaqueros), spending time with with her fiancé, family, friends and pets, listening to music, watching movies and eating candy
Discipline: Foot Orienteering
Club: COSM – Clube de Orientação de Santa Maria
Career Highlights: Brazilian Champion in 2014 and 2016; South American Champion in 2014 (Middle Distance) and in 2016 (Sprint and Middle Distance); silver medallist in South American Championships in 2015 (Sprint) and in 2016 (Long Distance)
IOF World Ranking: 197th
Franciely Chiles discovered Orienteering a decade ago, and hasn’t stopped since then. Today, at the age of 24, she is a successful orienteer in her country, current South American Champion in Middle and Sprint distances and with two Brazilian Championships titles in the last three years. Despite this, she is aware of her limitations and doesn’t hide her great dream: “One day, to be able to compete at the same level as European athletes.”
Franciely de Siqueira Chiles was born on 26 February 1992, in the city of Santana do Livramento in the southernmost state of Brazil, Rio Grande do Sul. She was born in the peak of the summer and in the Carnival season, in a time of “batuque” and “pandeiro”. Maybe that’s why she’s such a special, communicative person who loves to laugh. But she is also a determined woman who likes simple things, and who cannot stay indifferent when it’s a matter of helping those in need. Today, at the age of 24 and with a degree in Public Management from the Federal University of Pampa, she is a 3rd Sergeant in the Brazilian Air Force, connected with the Armed Forces High Performance Athlete Program.
But let’s go back to 2006, a time when the Brazilian Orienteering Confederation was just 6 years old. Practically unknown in most of Brazil, Orienteering has always had one of its most active roots in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. The Confederation’s headquarters were located there for fifteen years, and cities such as Santa Maria or Porto Alegre were regular venues for important events. “Disseminating the Sport” was a major slogan, and Orienteering was reaching into schools. It was there that Franciely had her first contact with the sport in the classes of Dejair Barreto, a lover of Orienteering and mentor of a project in Escola Agrícola of Santana do Livramento. “It was fascinating, despite being quite complicated at first; I didn’t know anything about Orienteering and I had never heard of it, but my interest grew as I learnt more about the sport,” she recalls.
A wise decision
Orienteering is a demanding sport and Franciely knows it: “In the first training sessions, everything was difficult. Memorising the symbols, understanding the signs, knowing how to read the map and having notions of distance were aspects that I took a while to understand.” In this adaptive process there was an element that turned out to be more complicated than any other. Franciely recalls: “It took me a long time to understand the contour lines and what they represented on the terrain.” Her first races with map and compass were in the Gaúcho League, and her first experience wasn’t much different from that of many other young orienteers: “I remember being very nervous at the beginning of the course and I ended up getting lost; it took me a long time to finish the race but I didn’t give up,” she says.
Gradually, Franciely imposed herself on the competitive Gaúcho League and the results appeared naturally. It was at this point that the great decision was taken: “To see the satisfaction and pride in my mother’s face, her eyes gleaming with joy when I showed her my first medal: it was one of the happiest moments of my life. I was sure then that Orienteering was what I wanted to do with my life,” she says. And it seems that she wasn’t mistaken, otherwise we wouldn’t see her today, so committed to the sport, Orienteering being the subject of all conversations.
“Friends are the most important”
– How do you evaluate your evolution in Orienteering?
“I know that I have been able to get better, but I also know that I have a lot to improve. Each race is an opportunity to learn.”
– What qualities do you recognise in yourself as an orienteer? What are your weaknesses?
“The ability to focus on the race and being good at reading maps are my greatest qualities. My weaknesses and where I have to improve are interpreting the contours in very detailed terrain and finding the best routes on the long legs.”
– What is the best advice you have been given so far?
“Like any orienteer, I have had some really important advice. But the advice I bear in mind the most is what my fiancé, Cleber Baratto Vidal, gave me at the end of a frustrating course: “Although we keep them in our memory, victories and defeats are transient. Friends are the most important.”
Course of the Year 2016
The fact that Brazil is a huge country – it’s the fifth largest country in the world – makes national competitions very different from each other, not only in terms of vegetation and terrain, but also in climate conditions. Aware of this reality, Franciely has no doubt in saying that it is in the South where the best conditions for competition are found. And she explains why: “In addition to pleasanter weather, the areas are more interesting and detailed here.” From her point of view “this is the region most similar to Europe.”
Although her preference is the South, Franciely focuses her attention on a different region in choosing her Course of the Year 2016: “This year I ran several courses that I loved. But what stood out for me was the Long Distance stage of the third and final round of the Brazilian Orienteering Championships, held in Brasilia, in the Federal District. It was a really challenging course, with lots of detailed vegetation and high temperatures. I knew I would have to raise my focus to the maximum and take the best options and, despite some small mistakes, I managed to control myself,” she says.
Training and support
Franciely runs with a map whenever possible, but her main target is to enhance her physical shape. The athlete has always liked to run, but it was only in 2013 that she started to take training seriously, doing it in a regular and consistent way. This new attitude towards training and competition coincided with her entry into COSM – Clube de Orientação de Santa Maria – the first Orienteering club to be founded in Brazil 25 years ago – and Franciely speaks proudly of her club: “The club shows concern for the athletes and seeks to support them with training and with incentives to enter events. It is also the club with the most Elite athletes, thanks to a series of good Presidents, not least the current one, Vitor Ribeiro Dias.”
In addition to the club’s support, Franciely is supported by Loja Orientista, and she is part of the Armed Forces High Performance Athlete Program, without which it would be very difficult to continue to compete: “This is where I find the support of dedicated professionals: the Nutritionist, the Physiotherapist, the Psychologist. It’s also an incentive for the growth of Orienteering, as many athletes dedicate themselves and train hard, dreaming of the possibility of entering the Program. From my viewpoint, the evolution of Orienteering over the years owes a lot to this program,” she says.
Repeating the achievement of 2014, Franciely has become Brazilian Orienteering Champion again this season. This is a title that the athlete considers to be “the result of great dedication and training, both physical and technical.” She also says that “the title was strongly contested, especially by Letícia Saltori, and it was only decided on the last stage.” In fact, it was not only in the Women’s Elite that the fight kept alive throughout the Championships. Also in the Men’s Elite there was a battle going on until the end, and this competitiveness fills the athlete with satisfaction: “I believe this competitiveness will help our country to get better results,” she predicts.
Two other highlights of the season took place in Chile and Brazil, where the South American Orienteering Championship and the CISM World Military Orienteering Championships respectively took place. Two major events, with very different vegetation and weather, something that Franciely clearly values: “It was great to be able to participate in both events. Chile organised an international event for the first time, and in the World Military Championships it was possible to race alongside the best in the world,” Franciely says. And she adds: “I knew I would find it difficult, but I did my best and I’m very proud of my performances.” It is in fact in Valparaiso, Chile, that Franciely places the happiest moment of her Orienteering career so far: “I ran calmly and I had an almost perfect race,” she says.
Orienteering in Brazil
Looking at the state of Brazilian Orienteering, where the impact of a little peaceful change in its governing body has been overcome, Franciely says: “The Brazilian Orienteering Confederation is doing a good job, looking for a way to better support the athletes. The Technical Commission is composed of former Elite athletes who have already competed in Europe, so our sport is improving even more with their expertise,” she says. Franciely adds that “the great difficulties are inevitably financial, and many young orienteers don’t have any support.”
The fact that Orienteering is little-known in Brazil, with just a few events being broadcast, doesn’t help in attracting potential sponsors. But Franciely sees in each adversity a challenge to overcome, and knows that Brazil won’t give up, even in its role in Regional development: “Brazil’s role is very important, mainly because it’s an Orienteering pioneer in South America. We have given and will continue to give South American countries our support in running competitions, mapmaking and training,” she says.
Daniel Hubmann and Simone Niggli the greatest influences
Speaking of her big role models, Franciely Chiles doesn’t hesitate in naming Daniel Hubmann and Simone Niggli. She bases her admiration for these two Orienteering stars in “their ability to recover and their determination”. Franciely explains: “Daniel went through injury and yet returned at the highest level, and Simone after pregnancy was soon running and, more impressive still, winning everything there was to be won.”
– In recent times, what news has caught your attention the most?
“It was, of course, the news that the Brazilian Orienteering Confederation is trying to attract support to present their application for the organisation of the World Orienteering Championships in 2021. Being able to organize WOC 2021 would be great for Brazil, especially because of the media impact, enabling us to attract new people and contribute to the growth of the sport in our country. The Confederation elected the South region of Brazil to carry out WOC and, as I said before, this is the best region for the practice of Orienteering. The European athletes can stay calm, because I know there will be plenty of dedication and professionalism in the organising team.”
Thinking of 2017
Thinking about the season that is starting now, Franciely speaks of a year full of great events. “For the next season I intend to present myself in the best physical shape ever. I’m planning to participate in the Brazilian Orienteering Championships and in The World Games, and I hope to be able to qualify for the CISM – Military World Championships in Finland,” she says.
– Imagine that you had entered a six-month programme to prepare for the World Championships in a country of your choice. Where would you go, and who would you like to see in your training group?
“I would like to go to Sweden. I think the maps are perfect, very technical, very difficult. I wish I could take Cleber with me because he’s a precious help in training, always supporting me and helping me to improve. As for the training group, I would like to count on Simone Niggli; she is an inspiration to me, and it would be the opportunity to meet her in person.”
Franciely leaves some advice to all young orienteers that are starting out now: “We all have difficult times but we must never give up. Always believe in yourself and in your ability to turn your dreams into reality. Prevail, insist and never give up.” Finally, she shares her greatest wish, that “one day I am able to compete at the same level as the European athletes,” she concludes.
Text: Joaquim Margarido
Previous Athletes of the Month
November 2016 Veronika Kubínová (CZE)
October 2016 Sabine Hauswirth (SUI)
September 2016 Lauri Malsroos (EST)
August 2016 Natalia Gemperle (RUS)
July 2016 Pavel Kurfürst (CZE)
June 2016 Maja Rothweiler (SUI)
May 2016 Lucas Basset (FRA)
April 2016 Marika Teini (FIN)
March 2016 Inês Domingues (POR)
February 2016 Lars Moholdt (NOR)
January 2016 Stefania Corradini (ITA)
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)
June 2015 Emily Kemp (CAN)
July 2015 Olli Ojanaho (FIN)
August 2015 Maja Alm (DEN)
September 2015 Anton Foliforov (RUS)
October 2015 Daniel Hubmann (SUI)
November 2015 Gaëlle Barlet (FRA)
December 2015 Ulrik Nordberg (SWE)
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)
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)
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)
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)