quinta-feira, 5 de janeiro de 2012


Coming to Brazil, and at first Rio de Janeiro, felt as a big adventure for us – living in a small country as Sweden. Of course we wondered how it would be possible to practice a sport as orienteering in the area of a multi-million-city as Rio de Janeiro. That was actually one of the reasons that we chose to go to Brazil – that we were interested in seeing how our sport is developing all over the world. As elite orienteers, we are ambassadors of our sport, and it’s important for us to know whats happening in all ways with the orienteering – all over the world, to be able to take stand in lots of question that the IOF has, concerning changing programs of the World Championships, etc…

Ronaldo Andre Castelo dos Santos de Almeida and his wife Thaiane Cavalcanti Couto, have been so friendly and kind, having us to stay with them during our two weeks here.

Besides just having a view of the ”ordinary” Brazilian life, we’ve had the opportunity to know a little about both a life in the Navy and in a Brazilian orienteering club – Elite CO.

To really understand how life as an orienteer in Brazil is, we’d have to stay longer and it would be interesting to see how other clubs are having trainings!

After participating in some trainings, and also competitions (South American Championships in Santana do Livramento), we can say that the biggest improvement of the orienteering in these areas are to have really good maps, drawn with a European standard. This we say because the athletes have to get used to running with this European style drawings if they want to be prepared when they come to Europe and big competitions there. Standards in norms (ISOM/ISSOM) has to be followed very notoriously and also it might be good to have help with choosing which areas that are the best to do really good maps in.

If the Brazilian (and South American) orienteers want to improve and compete with the rest of the world, they need to be able to keep a high speed during their orienteering courses. In Europe it can be average competition speed around 5-7km/h and what we’ve seen it is not possible to do that in the green areas that you’ve mostly mapped! Of course a lot of speed training can be done outside the forest, but to be able to read a map in high speed you also have to practice orienteering in high speed. Right now it’s probably just sprints that give your athletes that opportunity?!?

We do see that the quality of the best Brazilian runners are really good in the kind of terrain that we’ve met here in Brazil. (better for men than women) If the world orienteering elite would compete here, your best runners would probably do well (top 10 at least) but it’s hard to have the same results in Europe, without really good practice. Once again, map standards are important and it would be good with having good mapmakers and really think of which areas that are best to be mapped.

To get lots of international runners to come to your competitions, it’s also important to be able to give a confirmation of that the map and terrain will be good and that the competitions will be fare. A top international athlete travels a lot during the year and therefore it’s important to know that the training they are expecting is as good as it says. Of course it’s good to have new challenges and to meet different kinds of terrains, but more speed orienteering is to prefer. This should probably be the facts even fore beginners and with more ”white” terrain maybe more people could be interested in trying to learn. But mostly if you wan’t to get people interested in coming to Brazil, it’s good to be able to show attractive photos and map samples of the areas. Specially to elder orienteers and the World Masters.

Considering the quite young sport that orienteering in Brazil actually are, it’s impressive to see what a good job that’s done. In the competitions it really felt as if all people were happy to be orienteers and the long travels to get there must be good proof of that! Hopefully the Brazilian Federation and also the military and the clubs, will continue to keep up with development of the orienteeringsport in Europe, to have more orienteers also interested in coming to Brazil to compete and have training camps.

If you want more Europeans to come to your competitions it should be a good information on your websites about how to get there, with examples of possible traveling plans (fly to…or …train/bus from …to… etc.) Then the orienteers will feel that it’s more easy and possible to arrange on their own.

In arranging competitions you have worked out good base skills and start and finish procedures are working just fine. Maybe information in advance and start lists, etc., can improve a little but otherwise good. We saw very nice arenas but one thing that might be good to consider is how to do with having controls into the arena and people crossing everywhere…of course it is not a big problem but in bigger competitions (WRE for example) it’s more a common standard in Europe that no athlete should have seen a lot of controls or parts of the course before their start. This is due to fairness and especially in sprints it is good to mark what areas that are ok to run for warmups and be sure that these areas are not to be used during the competitions. Of course it’s nice with having controls close to the arena, and to see people passing, but it could be done just in the ”boarder” of the arena area.

Arranging a sprint should be done with the thinking of high speed and not too hidden controls. With a good map it is always possible to make it tricky anyway and the course-setter should also vary the legs length and have at least one longer leg with good route choices (600-700m). To make it even more difficult it can be a map exchange – to let the runner have no opportunity to know how the last part of the course will be, until he/she changes the map. It is not necessary to do that in the arena, it can be done at one control along the course.

The area of the sprint in South American Championships was very good for sprint, but the green should not be used to put controls into, more to have route choices. Most controls here were put visibly and that was good! It is also very important that the map is really good and follow the standards.

Middle distance can also have at least one longer leg with route choices. It is very good to vary the length of the legs all along the course, to make the runner not to know what’s happening next, because of having all concentration put into each leg, one at a time. It should also be possible with winning times more around 35-40minutes, so if it’s a slow area the courses should be shorter. 
If using a ”butterfly”or the same controls more than once, it’s also good if it’s used to spread the runners, as a forking but in the end everyone has been running the same controls anyway. If one runner has been catching another, they can have different loops in different order, and therefore both runners need to do their own orienteering most part of the course. Even more important in long distances probably.

In relays it might be considered to have one shorter leg for one of the team members, if you’d think that it would get more teams to start. Maybe not in the D21 or H21, but for younger and elder runners.

In Sweden the clubs are usually organizing 1-3 trainings/week for their athletes. Sometimes in different groups (kids/youngsters/juniors/elite/elder) but mostly at the same times, so that all people in the club meet each other at the clubhouse or at the parking of a technical training. At least one technical training and probably also running intervals together and during winter also a common long run in the weekend.

All club trainings are during afternoon/night and for elite runners who want to do daytime training it’s usually organized by the universities or orienteering schools. Just a few clubs have a trainer/coach to put out controls during daytime, but sometimes there are also daytime trainings organized by the athletes themselves (for example driving together to an ”old” training or putting out flags themselves and running loops).

Economy is always hard, to provide elite activity and support the elite athletes. In clubs there are big variations with having sponsors and often it depends on which cities the clubs are from and what companies there are in the areas. Runners can also have their personal sponsors and logotypes on their dresses, even if the club has other sponsors, but it is usually important that the sponsor-brands are not ”fighting” on the market.

To give back to the sponsor the club/athlete must find a way to help the sponsor to improve its business. Sometimes it’s enough with showing the logotype but sometimes also making a work as helping with salesmen (if the sponsor are selling at big competitions), making some events for the company and spreading positive information of course.

Clubs are usually making a spring training camp every year and they are then going to some south European country (since Sweden is cold and snow can stay until april in northern Sweden). Besides that the clubs do travels to competitions in Sweden during the whole year, with elite competitions called Silva League as biggest events. In every region there are local competitions almost every weekend, and they are good to use as ”competition-trainings” and it’s good for training that they are close to home. Elite athletes train 10-14 sessions every week and then it is not so much time to do travels. The good thing with traveling in Sweden is though that there are good maps in many places and it’s possible to stop during a trip and do a technical training before you continue your travel. No competition takes more than one day of traveling to reach (mostly 3-6 hours by car). Before bigger competitions and relays there is common to go some days in advance and prepare yourself with technical trainings in nearby maps. The organizers often have maps with courses to sell, with controls put out in the forest, some weeks before the biggest competitions.

We are very happy that the Elite CO invited us to come to Brazil and join them, and it has been an interesting and very developing trip for us. Hopefully we will find it interesting to come back for competitions the following years and even more we hope to see the Brazilian team to be able to send their best runners to the international competitions in Europe.

As we don’t speak Portuguese, we’ve noticed that the language is of big importance, and we give the advice to orienteers who want to come to Europe that they should learn English before they go. If they can communicate in English, there are very good opportunities to join clubs and to develop orienteering skills in Europe.

About my performances in Brazil, for me it was very good to come here and face a new terrain. I’ve had some problems earlier in adapting new technical thinking very fast but this time I just needed 2 training sessions close to Rio de Janeiro + the model event, to decide what details and tactics to use in my navigation. It was difficult in the green areas but I found the fences and my compass very useful. Also to stay calm and really look carefully to both left and right when came close to the flags.

The sprint was held in a nice area but maybe a bit too green in the beginning of the course. I had some trouble in the beginning of the qualification but otherwise I made good races although the competition weekend.

It was a very good practice for me, with testing my rutines, and a nice break with technical orienteering during my winter!


Lena Eliasson (and David Andersson)

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