Who is Who
Erkki Luntamo, M90, FIN
First interview only could be to Erkki Luntamo, 93 years old, Finland.
We don't need to introduce Erkki. He is the oldest man doing orienteering. Everybody knows his special vigour in spite of his age. In the last WMOC events where he had been, he always won golden medals: Lithuania 2001 and Norway 2003, in M85, Italy 2004, Austria 2006 and Finland 2007, in M90.
Last orienteer whom I personally saw with similar age was Karl-Viktor Ahokainen in O-ringen 1997, but Erkki's popularity is an incomparable phenomenon.
To this interview we have had the special cooperation of Tuulikki Salmenkyla, who has translated questions from English to Finnish and answers from Finnish to English. She also has add some intelligent notes, like this one:
Erkki Luntamo was invited by the President, on Dec 6th, to the independence day gala which is the festive occasion of the year especially in the 90th year of Finland's independence and the rumour is that he wasn't the first one in fatigue in the heat of the dance floor (translator's note).
Follow questions and answers:
How did you discover orienteering?
My eldest brother, an army sergeant at the time, taught me the basics (map symbols, direction technique with the compass, route selection etc.).
Do you remember your first races? Can you tell us something about the maps and the atmosphere among the orienteers at that time?
My first race was the championship of the temperance organization of southwestern Finland in the spring of 1931. The map was Russian in the scale of 1:42.000. It was an exciting experience for a first timer who only had a strong aspiration to finish the race. (A lot of the early maps used for orienteering were made by Russians in the late 19th and early 20th century - Translator's note)
Which have been the events from which you have the best memories?
- A) I was filled with joy when I won the Rauma district championship while I was at the teachers' training college in 1936.
- B) It was magnificent to win the 1st Division championship in the officers' class on 30th August in 1943 during the 2nd World War.
- C) I was equally exalted to be 2nd in the officers' class in the championship of the Maasela brigade on the 26th of September in 1943. The winner was the brightest star of orienteering of the time Olli Veijola (also the 1st chairman of the Finnish orienteering federation).
- D) The most exciting experience took place on the 30th July and 1st of August in 1944 when being the commander of the front-line company I had to reach the target unspotted in hostile territory. 12 kilometers on marshland and in foggy weather in strict obedience of the compass took 30 hours. Having reached the target I was wounded but the target was also destroyed.
- E) The first Finnish championship in H50 on 8th of September in 1966. This was the 2nd time I participated in the Finnish championship races.
- F) The first WMOC victory in H 80 in 1994. It was extremely important in giving me the confidence to participate in the later WMOCs.
Can you remember any funny episode from a big event?
It was most delightful and fantastic to run the finishing line at the WMOC in Austria in 2006 in H90 with the spectator cheers welcoming me. It was fantastic as I beat the Norwegian winner of H85 by 40 seconds [same course].
What do you enjoy most in orienteering?
It is a discipline taking place in nature and in which brains and legs need to cooperate well.
Have you made any special friendship in this sport?
I have many orienteering friends, both male and female. Maybe the strongest relationship has been formed in the past years with a spry and youthful female orienteer.
What do you feel about the way that you are seen by younger orienteers?
It is delightful to see how the younger relate to an old veteran. It is always a pleasure to be greeted by the young and often even to shake hands with them in the event centre. It is also a warming experience to be saluted by people who have read about my success in the papers.
Do you have orienteers in your family?
All my four sons practised orienteering on the district level when they were young. But it was long ago since they last were orienteering. ("They quit when they felt that they were too old to continue", the father has been witnessed to say. Translator's note)
What does your family think about your activity?
Even though I have participated in many races over the years (still 33 this year), neither my wife nor children have ever hindered me to do so. I do, however, remember my wife having said in 1966 "I assume that you will let it be now as you won the Finnish championship". This of course was only a note.
What is the secret for your sporting long life?
Healthy lifestyle and continuous exercise in various ways.
What kind of training did you do when you were younger? And now, what do you do to maintain your performance?
I did not really do any training. But as a teacher I always did everything with the children in the sports classes. But now that I am retired I have to run, ski, swim, do gymnastics.
Do you have any special care with what you eat? Which is your favourite food? And what do you never eat or drink?
I am omnivorous and not very pedantic about my nutrition. I drink one cup of coffee on a daily basis and never have any alcohol. I have always been a teetotaler.
What was your job before retiring? And how did you coordinate your professional and sporting life?
I was a teacher in the elementary school. The weekends I spent competing. During summer vacations I participated in the orienteering events of several days.
Now, what are your hobbies besides orienteering?
I have many hobbies: skiing, ski-orienteering, volleyball, temperance work, war veteran and guild activities, male chorus, Lions activity, civil defence, earlier also different board activities.
What do you expect from WMOC 2008?
I expect a faultless performance from myself. I am confident that the competition organization will be magnificent.
Can you give any message to the other participants?
Exercise diligently before the WMOC to be well prepared for the competition. That way you can savour only pleasant memories from Portugal.
What is your date of birth?
I was born on the 25th of November in 1914 in Kuusisto in southwestern Finland. I guess I will be the eldest participant again.
I wish to pass my joyful regards to all of you!
(Interview by Manuel Dias. Questions and answers by e-mail. Received on 2007 Dec. 18th.)
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[2008-06-18] Blair Trewin, M35, AUS
[2008-06-18] Mariett Matias, WMOC Media responsible
[2008-06-17] David May, WMOC Senior Event Advisor
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[2008-06-12] Santos Sousa, WMOC planner
[2008-06-11] Sigurd Daehli, M55, NOR
[2008-06-10] Alexandre Reis, WMOC mapper and planner
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[2008-05-31] Jacinto Eleutério, WMOC Course coordinator
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[2008-03-06] Joaquim Sousa, M35, POR
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[2008-02-20] J. Salmenkylä, M75, FIN
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[2008-01-21] Alexander Afonyushkin, M40, RUS
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[2008-01-16] Björn Linnersjö, M65, SWE
[2008-01-15] Lillian Røss, W85, NOR
[2008-01-10] Tapio Peippo, M55, FIN
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[2008-01-04] Erkki Luntamo, M90, FIN