Gueorgiou and Alexandersson: Orienteering Achievement of 2017!

Posted on | December 17, 2017 | Category: Arena, FootO, News

Thierry Gueorgiou (France) and Tove Alexandersson (Sweden) have been awarded with “The Orienteering Achievement of 2017″ titles in the men’s and women’s class, respectively! The vote has been decided by the big international readership of – nearly 4000 unique votes from around 60 different countries have been delivered. Read interviews with the winners below the results.

Gueorgiou won the award for his fantastic gold medal at World Championships middle distance in Estonia. Having announced his retirement well in advance, Gueorgiou had one very last chance to live up to the old “King of Middle” naming from the old days – 6 years after his last middle distance title. And Gueorgiou did it!  Gueorgiou got three times as many votes as the runner up – winning the award ahead of Daniel Hubmann (Switzerland) and Yannick Michiels (Belgium).

In the women’s class it was tighter for the top positions, with less than 60 votes separating Tove Alexandersson and Maja Alm (Denmark). Alexandersson took both individual forest gold medals at WOC for the second year in a row – and topped it up with running Sweden into WOC relay gold. Amazing results, amazing stability!

Big thanks go to all voters and to the event sponsors  Five + Five days of Vasto (Italy), EKG Swiss 5 Days/EOC 2018 (Switzerland), Cerkno Cup 2018 (Slovenia), Sprint Scotland 2018 (Scotland), Antalya Orienteering Festival (Turkey), Portugal O-Meeting 2018 (Portugal), Andalucia O-Meeting 2018 (Spain), OOCup (France) and Lipica Open (Slovenia).


In the Men’s class Thierry Gueorgiou won with 38(!) % of the votes ahead of Daniel Hubmann with 12 % and Yannick Michiels with 10 %. In the Womens’ class Tove Alexandersson won with 25 % of the votes ahead of Maja Alm with 22 % and Simona Aebersold with 17 % of the votes. The fascinating stories behind each nomination can be read at the poll page for men and women, respectively.

Interview Thierry Gueorgiou – Achievement of the Year 2017

Q: Congratulations on being awarded “The Orienteering Achievement of  2017″! More than three times the votes of the next on the list shows how impressed everybody is by the way you managed to round of your career. In your opinion, was this year’s WOC middle victory the greatest orienteering achievement in your career, or are there others you would put higher up on the list? Surely there are many to pick from …

It is hard to say really, because every race has its own story, and haven´t had much time to reflect after WOC this year, which in many ways was a good thing. But I would mention the WOC 2004 in Sweden, when I won the middle distance there. It was kind of important to show (mostly to myself) that I could win back-to-back, and I had understood what were the key ingredients of the winning recipe. Also I like to remember the WOC 2012, and my fourth place in the middle distance as one of my best achievement, as I was only able to run the last week before the World Championships, after a stress fracture in the spring. And finally, I would say that my best race ever in World Championships was may be in 2013 in the WOC relay, it got unnoticed, because we ended up something like 8th, but it was a good one ; )

Q: You didn’t look that strong early in the season – when did you start really believing that you could win the WOC middle?

Well, this was a special season in the way that I knew very early it was the very last one. There would be no second chance, and I knew there would be only one race which would really matter. Everything else was, more or less, just preparation, and it gave very uneven results. Like at Portugal O´meeting, or the World Cup races in Finland for example. I wanted to do well of course, but my mind was somewhere else. The only time I got stressed was when I travelled back from the World Cup races, I was out of energy, mostly because I was a bit over trained, and had low iron values. But from there, I knew I was, finally, in the period I enjoy the most, the last 7 weeks before championships. I dropped a bit of weight, focused on myself, and I find back my master speed. Two, three weeks before WOC, I had again the feeling that I had it in my hands.

Q: What did you manage to do differently in 2017 to climb to the top of the podium at WOC middle compared to the previous years? Was the difference physically? Mentally? Terrain? Luck? 

I have not a clear answer to this question I have asked to myself many many times. This year, I tried to be super relaxed, I knew like whatever would happen at WOC, it would be the best year of my life anyway with the birth of Léon. But I think I never lost the faith during all those years. I mean I had always been a gold medal contender, it was not like if I was out of the game, or outclassed. Every years, I was close, sometime super close to make it. That were facts, not self-persuasion.

Q: Compared to your golden middle distance years from 2003 – 2011 where you won nearly every middle distance you focused on, and often with quite big margins, you struggled more after 2011. Do you think that is because the others got better, and maybe even learned from you, or because your own level went down? Maybe you even have some test results supporting this?

I think it is probably a mix of things, but I will never say that it was easier to win in those early years than nowadays, as there were true orienteering genius like the Finn Pasi Ikonen, or the Norwegian Jörgen Rostrup at that time. My “own theory” is that I changed my focus a bit, and instead of the combo Sprint-Middle at WOC, I went for the Middle-Long. I nearly stopped running sprint seriously after 2008/2009, and in some ways it affected my results in middle distance. I think my sprint routines were helping me in middle distance, and I was more efficient. But that was not only for the worst as I started to enjoy the feeling of being able to run a bit longer, and became successful in long distance thereafter.

Q: You are famous for your “Full speed – no mistakes” technique. Is this still your preferred way of thinking, or did you change your way of looking at technique since then?

Ahah, still more efficient than the “No speed, Full mistakes” technique, or I have miss out something those last years?! No, seriously, it is very theoretical, and basically my philosophy is that you should find the best answer to the problem set by the course setter. And, of course, it is a very individual answer. You need to find out your own style and understand the terrain as well. Nowadays, I am a big believer of the “situational awareness”. Meaning like you should always try to be aware of what´s happening along the course, and try to make fit your level of focus to the difficulty, instead of trying to apply the advice I have never been able to understand – “focus from start to finish!”

Q: Can you name three key persons who were important for your big achievement in 2017?

There are a lot of people who has made it possible, as even if we are doing an individual sport, I have always seen it as a teamwork. I have already mentioned our son Léon, even though he was still in the belly of his mother, Annika. Then, I will mention the whole French team, with both the staff and the runners. During WOC, at no time, they made me feel it was my last one, it felt like a family and for sure, it helped a lot in the process.

Q: What is the most fun you have had during orienteering the past year?

Clearly, ABOM in Portugal, in the beginning of March, near Aguiar da Beira. The terrain was epic and it is to meet this kind of challenge I have been training and preparing those last years. I had wished it would have happened more often at World Championships or on World Cup races, but, yeah, when you have the opportunity, you should not miss it!

Q: Can you remember any leg which you felt that you executed in a (near) perfect way in 2017? Can you take us through that leg?

I will pick one leg of the course I just mentioned for different reasons. First, because the terrain was challenging, both because of the density of information, and the green stuffs were you can really get stuck for a bit of time. And secondly, because the mapping style was great, and the map was readable even at 1/15.000° scale.

The leg I picked is 4th to 5th  (see full GPS-tracking here). There aren´t 300 different options for that leg, the rough idea is just to find a nice line in the terrain, using the fast bare rocks and avoiding the greens. It starts with a full effort in a steep climb, but the second part of the leg is the most interesting where you need to keep up the pace by using the biggest rock pillars from distance, and surf the fastest parts. It makes a difference if you manage to do it well.

Q: What do your days look like now? Do you still manage to train and keep a good level, or is all focus on your job as coach for the Swedish team and family? 

I wish the days would be a lot longer to be honest, as there is a lot to do, both at home and at work. For sure, the life is different nowadays, but I still can feel I have the same countdown in my mind with the WOC as main focus. I really want the Swedish runners to be the best prepared, and it is what motivated me constantly, even though I know too well that coaches make no difference! ; ) When it comes to my own competition desire, it seems it also died in Estonian forests. But I am still training quite well as I want to be able to follow our runners in the forest, as it is a lot easier to help them if I see them live in action.

Q: Any final words to your fans out there?

You always gave me so much energy, and you made it very special for me. Without you, it would not have been the same, I am so thankful!

Q: … and how is your book doing? (You don’t have to answer that one:)

Ahah, it is definitively in my to-do list, but seems like this list is kind of exploding at the moment.

Interview Tove Alexandersson – Achievement of the Year 2017

Q: Congratulations on being awarded “The Orienteering Achievement of 2017″. You had a fantastic season last year where you dominated the forest disciplines – now you managed to do the same this year again. Did you think this would be possible going into the season?

Thank you! Yes, my two last seasons have both been fantastic! I always want to improve and be better, so of course I wanted this season to be a little bit better than last year, even if I knew that it would be hard. That was the dream but it’s a lot of hard work to be done, and then you have to do everything right on the right day!

Q: Last season you skipped the sprint discipline completely, and said “I wanted to be as good as possible in the forest races and felt that it was a risk to also run the sprint. It was safer to just focus on the forest”  in the Achievement-of-the-Year- interview. This year you focused more on sprint and even ran WOC sprint (although illness after the qualification kept you from running the final). Were you confident that you could win in the forest even when running sprint this season? Will you continue focusing on sprint next season?

I had no problem with the preparations for both sprint and forest. I felt in very good shape both for the sprint and forest before the championship but the hardest thing is to run many important races in a week. So for me it’s more a question about how many races I can perform in. And I will focus on sprint also next year and hopefully I will be able to add one more race to my woc-program!

Q: What are your main improvements compared to the 2016 season? Are you faster, stronger, better o-technical, better mentally – or just keeping the status quo?

Not any big improvements but it feels like I have been a little bit better in everything, physically, o-technical and mentally.

Q: Which of your performances do you value highest in the 2017 season?

I don’t like to compare, but if I must choose one today, I will probably value another one higher tomorrow because it’s so hard to choose. But two of the races I have had the best feeling during the race and after are 10-mila and the middle distance in WOC.

Q: What is the most fun you have had during orienteering the past year?

It’s also so hard to say, I have so many good memories from this season. But I choose the WOC middle distance. It was the best course of the year and my best performance. I really enjoyed everything that day, before the start, during the race, after the race.

Q: Do you plan do to anything differently in your training for the upcoming season?  Can you give an example of one of the key trainings which will help you to win more gold medals at WOC in Latvia next season?

I always do some small changes but I have nothing big to next season. I haven’t started with any key trainings for WOC yet. For the moment I have focus on building a good base for both skiing and running.

Q: Can you remember any leg which you felt that you executed in a (near) perfect way in 2017? Can you take us through that leg?

I wanted to choose a really long, challenging leg but I can’t remember any I’m totally satisfied with. So it’s a goal for next year!

Q: Any final words to your fans out there?

Thanks for all your support during the year!


Text and photos by Jan Kocbach,

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