European Youth Orienteering Championships: Youth report

Posted on | July 6, 2016 | Category: News

In connection with the European Youth Orienteering Championships, some young aspiring journalists from the Czech Republic got the chance to do some reporting. Jiri Krejcik interviewed the long distance winners Zuzanna Morawska and Daniel Vandas, posing interesting and insightful questions to the athletes. Anna Auermullerova showed a keen eye for photography, capturing the pictures of the gold medalists for this article.

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Zuzanna Morawska: Orienteering is all my life
With a great support from her own fans, Zuzanna Morawska took the gold medal in the W18 category at the long distance from this year’s European Youth Orienteering Championships in Poland, further confirming her title with a bronze medal in the relay race next day. How does the 17 year old Europe Champion evaluates her performance and what are her plans for the near future?

Congratulations for the gold and bronze medals, especially in such technically and physically demanding races. Was it easier of more tough for you to run in the home terrains of Poland?
I think it was harder, because I could feel some pressure of high expectations and I knew that whole my family, friends and supporters would be there. This was particularly motivating, but also stressing at the same time.

You are from the maritime area of Gdańsk, so you were raised in completely different types of terrain. Was it difficult to adapt and get used to these sub-Carpathian forests around Jarosław?
Not really, as I have been training for two years in terrains like this. And I can say that we have been training very hard. So I think I was prepared very well for this championship.

A question one can hardly avoid: When did you start with orienteering and how did your beginnings look like?
Actually, I have been doing orienteering from my early childhood, as all my family is doing this sport. My father also happened to be my first coach and I really appreciate how he taught me all the basics of orienteering. Even now, when I am trained by Agata Porzycz from my club UKS Azymut 45 Gdynia, my family remains very important for me. My father still gives me some advices and with my sisters and brother we support each other.

Your teammate Kinga Królik, the new European Champion in sprint distance, is also a great track runner. Does your training include some athletic features as well?
Not that much, I only run in the forest. That’s also why I am much more confident in the forest disciplines than on the sprint courses. Maybe I will put some more athletics into my training to become more versatile, but I am not sure yet.

You are still in your first year in W18 class, but you have already won the European title. Are you planning to start also at the JWOC in Switzerland this year or not?
Not this year. The girls in the current Polish junior team are stronger than me, but I would like to participate the next year in Finland.

So these are the plans for the next year. But where does Zuzanna Morawska see herself in a more distant future?
It is hard to predict the future for next four or five years. Definitely I am planning to start at my last EYOC in Slovakia and maybe at JWOC in Finland next year, and then we will see. I have no particular plans to the future, but I hope that it will remain connected with orienteering, as I can say that orienteering is all my life.

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Daniel Vandas: Advancing in small steps and enjoying orienteering
He was standing behind the finish line, shaking his head incredulously. “If I win this race, I will return the medal!” he shouted. His performance was far from perfect, but eventually turned out into a 7-minute victory, the largest margin in the EYOC history. How does Daniel Vandas, the new European Youth Champion in long distance, evaluate his great performance?

Congratulations to the gold medal from the long distance. Are you still planning to give it back to the organizers?
Not anymore. I went through my route choices on my way back to the event centre and I realized that it was not as bad race as I had thought at the finish. I can say that I am satisfied, but on the other hand my effort was far from masterful.
This is not your first European title, as you have also won the long distance two years ago in Strumica, Macedonia. Are these two victories somehow comparable?
Not at all. We thought that the terrain would be similar to the Macedonian one; it was completely different. In Macedonia, I won by a three-minute margin, but my performance was much better than this year. In Poland, all the competitors made mistakes and I was no exception in this. So I think the two victories are completely incomparable and I still cannot understand how it was possible to win by such a wide margin.

How come that you always win in such a spectacular way? Do you think that you have a special ability to prepare for the peak of the season, or is it just a coincidence?
I don’t mind, I’m just happy with that. But in any case, I must thank my new coach, Jan Potštejnský, who prepared me for the whole season and directed all the trainings towards this particular race.

This might be also an interesting question. As far as I know, you had a good chance to qualify also for this year’s JWOC, but you opted for not running the Czech selection race. Was it only a question of sport preferences, or have you declined for other reasons?
It was more about preferences of me and my coach. Last autumn, when we were planning my training for the oncoming season, we decided to aim solely at EYOC, as I am still eligible for the youth category. Maybe I did have a chance to qualify for the JWOC as well, but the selection race was too much close to EYOC, which could have ruined my final preparations. Was it a week before, maybe I would consider my participation. But I do not regret anything. I won the EYOC and I am happy with that!

At the moment, you are a double European Champion, but you have never won a single Czech title. Is this your plan for the autumn part of the season?
To be honest, it is not bad to have two European titles instead of the Czech ones. I will definitely try to break this curse of Czech champs this year, but it does not mean anything crucial for me.

It is quite interesting that you and your coach have chosen to progress in such small steps. Do you have any plans in a longer time horizon?
We have no long time goal such as, let’s say, winning the World Championships in eight years. Our cooperation is of a standard regular coaching and both of us do it mainly for fun. And if some good results come, we enjoy it even more.

Can you unveil some of your plans for the next year? You will be graduating in two years only, is it not the right time for a longer stay in Finland to get ready for the JWOC 2017?
For me, it will be a success even to get selected to the Czech team, because our generation is quite strong. A good result from Finland would be fantastic, but it will be very hard to succeed. For a guy from Central Europe, Finnish terrains resemble a kind of maze where you cannot run in a full speed without mistakes. A longer stay would do a great job and there are some possibilities indeed. Now is my turn to make the decision.

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