Athlete of the Year 2016: Tove Alexandersson

Posted on | December 19, 2016 | Category: News

Photo: Stina Loman, Skogssport

2016 was the peak of Tove Alexandersson’s orienteering career so far, which before this season was packed with merits, yet no gold medal at a World or European Championships (WOC, EOC). She crushed that history, becoming both World Champion and European Champion in long and middle distance. In addition, she spent the winter winning the world cup in SkiO overall and two gold medals in the European SkiO Championships.

Tove Alexandersson had many goals during the 2016 season, but they all led up to the World Championships on Swedish home ground in Strömstad-Tanum and only with one thing in mind:

– I really wanted to win, she says very earnestly, in a voice that tells everything about the many times she previously had started at a WOC race as favourite, but at best made it into second.

As one of very few athletes, 24-year-old Tove Alexandersson competes on top level in both FootO and SkiO. In SkiO, she is five times World Champion and four times European Champion. The overall world cup was missing though. Tove’s winning instinct was not satisfied with that, and now that the SkiO and FootO did not overlap as in previous years, 2016 would be the year for an overall SkiO world cup victory.

It went as Tove wanted it, achieving her goal for the SkiO season 20 points ahead of Mariya Kechkina from Russia. In addition, the European SkiO Championships led to medals in all five distances: gold in sprint and relay, silver in middle, and bronze in long and sprint relay.

– Satisfying, as Tove describes the results.


A sign of what it could lead to

Just after the European SkiO Championships were over, Tove’s focus went immediately from skiing to running. At the EOC long distance in May, she got a feeling for what the orienteering season could lead to:

– Standing at the starting line at EOC long distance, I felt stronger than I had for many years. I was fresh and injury free. I had a fantastic feeling and it was amazing to win, Tove says about her first gold medal at EOC.

Only three days later, her good shape continued, crushing the opponents at the EOC middle distance with a two-minute win.

Photo: Stina Loman, Skogssport

Mission completed – two times gold

Starting the WOC middle distance she was as prepared as anyone could be. Even though Tove did not stick exactly to her plan for the race, she could happily make the classic Scandinavian roll at the finish line. And at last; her fourth medal at a WOC middle was the kind Tove likes the most. Gold.

Two days later at the WOC long distance, the challenge was different but the goal the same. At the speaker control, she heard she was only three seconds behind:

– I am so proud that I could keep my concentration after the spectator control where I heard the speaker saying I was three seconds behind. It was a fantastic moment to run over the finish line knowing I was World Champion in both middle and long, she says with a big smile.


A winner’s instinct that cannot be satisfied

In the last two years, Tove has had convincing overall victories in the FootO world cup. Even though the long 2016 season had begun to take its toll, Tove managed to secure her third win in a row in the last world cup round in Switzerland.

No wonder Tove describes 2016 as the best season in her career so far. Though it does have moments she would change if she could:

– At the EOC relay I went out in second position on the last leg and if I had not run to the wrong control at one point, we [the Swedish relay team] would have had victory within reach. I really fret about that, she says.

The mistake at the EOC relay touches a sore point for Tove Alexandersson, still missing victories in relays as part of the Swedish team. The missing WOC relay title will not affect her preparations for next year though. It is the middle and long distances that are in her heart. Possessing the World Champion title in both, she is considering taking up the sprint again at WOC 2017 in Estonia.

Before thinking too much about WOC 2017, she has a SkiO season ahead during which she needs to defend two European Champion titles in Imatra, Finland, and two World Champion titles in Krasnoyarsk, Russia. As always, only one thing is on her mind. To win.

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