quarta-feira, 28 de dezembro de 2011


The winner of the portuguese ranking in 2009/2010, Miguel Reis e Silva, stay this year by the 14th position. But his title of Middle Distance at the Portuguese Championships and the best result achieved by a portuguese athlete presents in the World Championships WOC 2011 shows that we can count on him at any moment. The Orientovar spoke to him and shows his balance of an entire season.

Orientovar - The 2011 season has brought a new calendar, according to the civil year. Was this change good?

Miguel Reis e Silva - In my opinion, the change wasn’t good. We wanted to do as the others, but we forgot that we have different conditions from other countries, in this case, better conditions. The international calendar is suited to the nordic countries climatic conditions and there was a conflict between the typical season of the best world athletes and our weather that allows competitions from October to January and forbidden them in August. If we take a deep look, even the international calendar is strange. In athletics, the World Champs are in August and the season ends in August. In Thriatlon the World Champs are in October and the season ends in October. In Orienteering, the World Champs are in July but the season ends in October.

It seems obvious that the World Champs are out of place and moved to the 3 sunny months of the nordic countries, resulting in the relative death of Orienteering during 6 months a year. If you ask me if this has any sense, I’ll tell you “yes”, once these countries are the main power of orienteering and where the majority of the athletes live. The point is that we had the chance of keep working while the others were sleeping and we decided to also kill orienteering for 6 months a year. Many of the best national athletes kept resting in August, facing the rest of the season as preparation to the next one. Probably, that’s also what I’ll do in the next seasons. Resuming it all: we won the “developed country” sticker for following the international calendar but we lost nice competitions and organizations that we had in a part of the year where we have favorable climatic conditions. Furthermore, as would anyone expect, we still don’t have races in Portugal during July/August.

I faced this season as a transition period

Orientovar - Your performance in the Sprint race of the WOC 2011 ended being the highest moment of our participation in France. How do you recall that race?

Miguel Reis e Silva - I didn’t have enough free time to stay in France during all the period of competitions and, at the same time, I wanted to participate in this event. After the selection races, came the possibility of participating in the Sprint race, paying my own expenses and I grabbed this opportunity. It was, mainly, an important moment to the future. My preparation was atypical in every ways. I wasn’t trained enough in map reading, I was mentally tired and I arrived in France 12 hours before the beginning of my race. I was aware of this handicap and I tried to compensate with an intense mental training. Its results surprised me and now I have an important tool to the future. I also have to mention the support of my club, CPOC – Clube Português de Orientação e Corrida, without which my participation in this event would have been impossible.

Orientovar - Orienteering is, literally, a sport full of unexpected obstacles. This season we noticed that you were far from the first places. Injuries? Studies? Which was the reason for this?

Miguel Reis e Silva - Study was, without any doubt, the main obstacle in this season. In the end of the course there is this exam which result is the base of the distribution of the students by specialty. It’s an old-fashioned exam that prizes memorization in spite of logic and this model is expected to be finished in two years. In the beginning of the season I made this exam my priority. Not because I wanted a specialty that required an high grade but for the important concept consolidation that we benefit from all this study. I started training only once a day, I participated in less events and, as it was expected, I lowered my performance. I faced this season as a transition period, with different goals that also fill me personally. Seeing things by this side, the obtained results were clearly better than what I expected.

The Portuguese Federation can’t keep waiting still for the support of the government and has to become active

Orientovar - I hope that Jan Kocbach won’t mind, but taking the World of O idea, which was the best race of the season in Portugal?

Miguel Reis e Silva - Easy answer: The long distance of the Arraiolos International Meeting. Why?
First, because it was one of the rare long distances done in Portugal, in the true meaning of the word. And second, the map has quality and a huge dimension (17.7 km2!) that helps avoiding passing many times in the same place. I doubt that we will find a race with this technical quality in the next months. Stays the memories and the map for future trainings. I quitted the race due to intense pain in a knee injury that I made on the Portugal O’Meeting of the weekend before. I was sadder for abdicating the pleasure that the map was giving me rather than for the weight of the quitting itself.

Orientovar - How do you evaluate the actual moment of Portuguese Orienteering? Are you worried with the participant number fall?

Miguel Reis e Silva - Actually, I think that we are well, but we could be better. In athletics there have been many cancelled races due to lack of funds and, until now, we are keeping going without fails. However, before the actual economic state of Portugal it is clear that we will face more difficulties in a near future. It’s a descendent spiral: the price of the fuel rises, the number of entries falls, the clubs get thinner, the support to the athletes vanishes and, consequently, the number of athletes falls. The Portuguese Federation can’t keep waiting still for the support of the government and has to become active. In my way of seeing things, the only way to mitigate this problem is by learning how to promote and sell the image of the federation, which, nowadays, isn’t a priority. Those are the rules of our society and we have to know how to play with them. It was one of the few points with which I agreed in the last direction program.

If the brand Nike makes an awful map of Lisbon’s downtown and gathers dozens of people every week, why can’t the Federation do better with the outstanding map of the same region that it owns for decades? Why there aren’t nowadays those old races that used to take part in Lisbon’s heart that consisted in mass-starts of hundreds of people. We have to understand nowadays society and play with the rules. If by paying 1000 € for Orienteering appearing in a juvenile soap opera we can get 800 kids doing our sport, then let it be!

The more races that there are, the better

Orientovar - A new season is approaching, and POM 2012 is starting to capture attention in the headlines. Then there is this new Relay circuit and Urban circuit. What do you think about these circuits? It may be a good strategy to capture new participants or will it bring higher falls in participations?

Miguel Reis e Silva - For me, the more races that there are, the better; and I don’t think that a rise in the number of competitions will disperse the athletes. These two circuits were essential to fill some calendar gaps with less activity and the bet in the two kind of races that give a better show seems adequate.

I remember when Park races appeared, there was one of this kind every weekend. Then, they finished. I know that I may seem suspect, but I think that Sprint distances have to be a bet of our Federation for two reasons: It’s the kind of race that spreads Orienteering to a higher number of people with a lesser cost; and, It’s the kind of race where the athletes from developing countries in Orienteering (as us) have more chances of getting good results outside of their own countries.

Mountain running is a great Orienteering complement

Orientovar - Which Miguel Reis e Silva will we have in 2012?

Miguel Reis e Silva - Today, on the 20th December, it’s the day zero of my season, after two weeks of intense travelling in Asia without training and a tough gastroenteritis that both made me loose 6 kg. It was an unexpected and late pause but life isn’t resumed to Orienteering and to keep going in a long-term I have to have some pauses. This will be my first season as a non-student and I think that my life quality will improve substantially. Just the fact of having free weekends and to arrive at home at the end of the day without that black cloud forcing me to go study, is enough.

The physical goals for which I’m going to work are (may not be reached right this year):
- In the 5 km track, going under 15 minutes (17 seconds better than my PB) and 10 km road, going under 31 minutes (40 seconds better than my PB). Both are achievable if the physical train keeps going without injuries, but only in some months from now. Mountain running – representing the national team. I started mountain running this season and I was the first outsider the national team for the World Champs and I want more. Mountain running is a great Orienteering complement and gives me a great pleasure. About Orienteering, I consider it difficult to draw concrete goals due to the complexity of the sport itself. At the national level, I don’t have goals, beside enjoying the good maps that we have and the nice athmosphere that we have among our athletes (I’m now missing a lot coming back to this environment).

I can only say with confidence that my biggest goal is to reach high levels of performance compatible with results of international relevance; or giving the jump as Gernot Kerschbaumer, who I admire, has done this season. If not this year, then next year or the other year. In my only participation in a World Champs I was able to get a Final A place which has given me some motivation. The future belongs to God.

Orientovar - In this end of the year, do you want to say anything to portuguese Orienteering?

Miguel Reis e Silva - That we shall be able to enjoy this wonderful country that we have! (and we, orienteerers, know it better than anyone).



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