Natalia Gemperle: historic victory on the way to WOC

Posted on | June 29, 2017 | Category: News

Last year Natalia Gemperle ended up with three medals at the Nokian Tyres World Orienteering Championships (WOC). This year she says she is much better prepared, and the Russian athlete has just been in the winning team in one of the big relays for the first time.

It was in the middle of June that Natalia Gemperle started out in second place on the last leg in the Venla Relay (linked with Jukola). 49 minutes later she was running together with her team-mates to the finish as the first team in the relay, in which 1,262 teams took part.
I’m really happy that we could win as a team! It gives me a good feeling before WOC, she smiles.

Natalia Gemperle (with the number bib) finishes to take victory in the Venla relay together with her team-mates Sara Eskilsson (left), Galina Vinogradova and Josefine Heikka. Photo: Erik Borg

Alfta-Ösa has been working hard for three years to win an international relay.
– We had set the highest possible aim for the competitions, and everybody has been working towards for that, she says.
Alfa-Ösa is in the middle of Sweden, not far away from the coast.
– Alfta is a small club but with a great atmosphere in the team. We are all friends and I feel strong support from all the members. Finally we got the victory, and I’m proud to win Venla with this club!
It is also the first time in the history of Venla that Russian girls are among the winners, the 26-year-old athlete tells. Earlier this year they were close to winning Tiomila.

Natalia Gemperle won three medals at WOC 2016. Photo: Malin Fuhr

Aims for 2017
WOC starts in Estonia on Friday with the qualification for the Sprint. In Strömstad in Sweden last year, Gemperle ran the last leg for the winning Russian team in the Relay, got silver on Long and bronze on Middle Distance.

What is your goal for WOC this year?
– I want to do my best in my orienteering. This is my main goal. The results will also depend on the performances of the others taking part.

How is your form, compared to that before Strömstad?
– It is difficult to compare; WOC this year is much earlier in the season. But the first World Cup round in Finland showed me that I’m going the right way.
What is for sure is that the Russian is much better prepared for the terrain in Estonia than she was for the challenges in Sweden. She had been in the Nordic terrain in Sweden very little before last year’s championships.
– I have been in Estonia ahead of WOC much more than was the case in Strömstad. I guess I am well prepared, but we will see if that is so in a few days’ time!

Ready for an intense week
Natalia will arrive in the Baltic state by car together with her husband Rolf Gemperle. Then it’s the start of a very intense week.
“I plan to take part in all individual races,” she says.
There are also a couple of relays. Natalia was the anchor in the forest relay one year ago, and also has a very good history with the Sprint Relay. She was in the winning team in that relay at the European Championships last year.

Text: Erik Borg





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