Who is Who
Peo Bengtsson

Peo Bengtsson, M75, SWE


[Picture: Peo Bengtsson in International Cantanhede O-Trophy, Portugal, after Day 1 race WRE in Palheirão Sul, on Feb 9th 2008, talking with Lina Persson, who ran the long-distance for Sweden national team at WOC in Ukraine last year.]

What is your date of birth and where do you live?
I was born 18th of August 1933, the same birthday as the well-known film-director Roman Polanski. I was born and I live at Kristianstad (about 130 km ENE. of Copenhagen), and I think I could never get such a passion for orienteering somewhere else in the world, as we have about 5 very different and wonderful terrain-types for orienteering here. Göran Andersson (born 1953 and specialist in training - he has been national-team-chief for Great Britain, Sweden and Norway) and Jörgen Olsson (born 1971, WOC-participant 1999-2004, O-Ringen-winner 1995 and many other successes) have also started their first orienteering-steps here at Kristianstad.

How did you discover orienteering and for how long have you practiced it?
I discovered orienteering when I was about 15 years old in 1948. There were many reasons. I read about the sport in newspapers and magazines, my father liked maps and navigation after them, I was in YMCA boy scouts, etc. We had scout-championship at Kristianstad in the spring of 1949, and I became the winner. YMCA in Kristianstad had also an orienteering-section, and I begin to run training-competitions and more serious competitions and was sometimes successful.
I have run orienteering during all years since I began, almost 60 years.

Do you remember your first races, the maps and the atmosphere among the orienteers at that time?
We used ordinary official maps in the scale of 1:50 000. There were no contour-lines; instead we hade "backstreck", so hills and slopes were drawn in black. The youngest class was 16 and under, and the oldest class 50 and older, sometimes 56 and older. I remember the atmosphere as similar of today, we ran in shorts, and we became very dirty, so for us it was important to wash our dirty legs in streams and lakes.

Which events have been the best for you? Try to select no more than half a dozen.
It is very difficult for me to remember some special events, but I try:
1. In the spring of 1951 (I was 17 1/2 years) I was selected to run for my district Skåne against our neighbour-district Blekinge in a Junior-match for boys 20 years and younger. The selections were very hard - only 10 boys were allowed to compete, and I was the second youngest. I was happy to win, 6 minutes before the second participant.
2. In 1961 I was third in the Swedish Night-orienteering-championships, I think such competitions at that time were much harder than today.
3. In 1963 I organized my second Europe-tour to Denmark, West Germany and Switzerland with at least one competition a day during 2 weeks. On the day after our arrival home to Sweden there was a very big Sunday-competition (also with many elite-runners) at Ulricehamn - the very first one with code-numbers - and I became the winner.
4. In 1969 I won Spartacus Cup in Hungary in M21E as 36 years old.
5. In 1999 I won WMOC in Denmark in M65 with more than 300 participants.
6. In 2006 I won WMOC in Austria in M70 with about 250 participants.

Can you indicate other highlights of your sporting career?
In 1957 I was selected as a reserve to run Swedish championship in M21 for the first time, and I became 13th among about 90 participants in night-orienteering.
I have also been 6th in 1962 and 3rd in 1964 in Swedish night-orienteering-championships, 8th in classic distance in 1964, and been selected for Nordic Championship in 1963.
I have been Swedish Veteran-champion in 1999 (M65) and 2003 (M70).
I had many difficulties to win O-Ringen 5-days, I started as the first one on the 5th day 1965, 1979 and 1983, but I became "only" 3rd, 2nd and 2nd. In 2003 I started as 3rd but I won for the first time.
And I won Portugal 'O' Meeting in February 2007 (M70), but there I got a very long injury, so the whole 2007-season was almost destroyed.

You are known as a special organizer of orienteering events and tours. Can you remember how did you start this adventure?
There was an orienteering-leader - Baron "RAK" Lagerfeldt - in Sweden, and he started to organize media-competitions - also with Swedish club-teams as participants - in "new" orienteering-countries, such as West-Germany, England, Scotland, Belgium and France about 1959-1965. I tried to convince the SOFT (Swedish Orienteering Federation) to do the same with national teams in other countries, but I got no response. So I had to do something myself, I got some orienteering-addresses in Denmark, Switzerland and Germany from RAK and SOFT, I wrote to those addresses and "ordered" competitions on special dates, so it became a tour, and we tried to have at least one competition a day. We travelled in private cars during the summer-vacation. In the first tour in 1961 I got about 15 participants, in the second tour in 1963 I got about 75 participants. In 1965 I planned the third tour, but there were so many difficulties, so I cancelled that tour. Instead Sivar Nordström and myself started the first O-Ringen 5-days with 165 competitors in my district Skåne - the most southern-situated Swedish district.

The World Wide Orienteering Promotion (WWOP) started in 1984 with you and Jörgen Mårtensson. How many countries did you visit promoting orienteering?
Until now I have running orienteering in 89 countries, I cannot see in how many of those I have promoted orienteering, perhaps 50 % (?). In a "new" orienteering-country I try to find people with the real interest for orienteering, so they can find reasons to continue to develop our sport still more. In the beginning I also tried to get help from Swedish Embassies, but later I have found this way more complicated.

You have, of course, many interesting stories in this long odyssey around the world...
One memory: In 1981-1982 I organized the second tour around the world to France, India, Thailand, Hong Kong, Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, Canada and USA, with about 30 participants, among them 5 world-class-runners as Öyvin Thon and Brit Volden from Norway, Annichen Kringstad and Jörgen Mårtensson from Sweden and Ruth Humbel from Switzerland.. We organized a competition in a park in New Delhi. Also male embassy-secretaries from Norway, Switzerland and Sweden participated. All controls except 3 were stolen. One competitor looked for a control in a clearing, he found no flag, but there was a cuddling couple, so he asked in Swedish: "Have you seen a control?", "No, we haven't", answered the cuddling man in Scanian-Swedish dialect.

What are your next projects concerning the WWOP: new countries or fortify orienteering where it is already implanted?
Of course I try to find new countries for orienteering, but we must also develop the less developed. And IOF must try very hard, so orienteering becomes an Olympic discipline and becomes more well-known in our whole world. Now the best Olympic possibilities must be for ski-orienteering in the Winter Olympic Games.

Do you feel that orienteering is developing in the right sense? How can orienteering still grow?
Orienteering is now developing in the right way, as I see, but the sport is not so well-known everywhere in the world. If an Olympic competition was shown in TV, I think that almost everybody in the world will be informed about orienteering, so we also will get black people to orienteering, as an example.

In 1985, O-Ringen beat the record of participants, with 23 000 people. In the last ten years, participants were between 12 000 and 15 000. Is orienteering decreasing in Scandinavia? Or is it the result of the appearance of new multi-day competitions in different countries?
Orienteering is now decreasing in Scandinavia, but I think that Finland is very good in developing, there is orienteering on TV (and therefore also more publicity), weekdays-competitions in the summer-evenings, etc. Of course also more and more multi-day-competitions in other countries make less participants in O-Ringen in Sweden.

Your travel around the world also had a stop in Portugal. Do you remember the first time you did orienteering in this country? Someone said to me that you had to make the map by yourself. Is it true? Where was the map? And how many people were with you in this experience?
During a travel with a military Hercules flight between Sweden and Argentina in 1973 we had 5 stops with accommodations, the first of those in Lisboa. I remember I was out jogging in the nice forest near our hotel between Cascais and Lisboa. In the first world-tour in 1977-1978 we had a very short stop for petrol, also in Lisboa. Later many Finnish runners had their winter-training on the Algarve-coasts. There were also Finnish orienteers, so a map was made at Albufeira. I visited that map in 1983, when the Sweden national team had a running-training-camp there. During that week I also met 2 Portugal orienteers in Lisboa, one of them had participated in O-Ringen 1977, and the other one had participated in Jan Kjellström Trophy in Great Britain. Nov.-Dec.
In 1986 myself and 3 other mappers made maps outside Barcelona, Madrid, Lisboa and Trafalgar, and WWOP sponsored. Just earlier I hade met Camilo de Mendonça - a navy officer in Lisboa - and Camilo had the right passion and position to develop Portuguese orienteering. WWOP also continued to sponsor Portugal-mapping with about 5 mapping-teams, so orienteering-competitions could be organized regularly.
So the rumour as you have heard is completely wrong.

How many times have you competed in Portugal? And which event did you enjoy the most?
I think I have competed at least 15-20 times in Portugal. I think I enjoyed very much a competition during the 34th autumn east tour near Marinha Grande.

The Clinics, at the O-Ringen, are a landmark of orienteering education. How did you get the idea to start the Clinics and what was the main objective of this project?
Already in 1966 we found it necessary with some training and education for foreign participants before the O-Ringen 5-days-competition, so they could compete in O-Ringen in a more successful way. And "new" orienteers get more interest for future orienteering, if they are more succesful. And it was also very good for publicity. For each year we have tried to improve this training and education, after about 20 years it was called "Clinics" and later "O-Ringen Clinics". IOF was also helping the O-Ringen-club (a club with the Swedish national team runners) with that organization from 1984 to 1996, but the O-Ringen club was still the most economic sponsor, as IOF always has had difficulties with economic. In 1995 O-Ringen 5-days was organized near Kristianstad, and my daughter Britt-Mari Bengtsson was the leader for O-Ringen Clinics. In spite of IOF we had a very good program with many different lectures about orienteering and worthful exercises, so the participants were very thankful. After that I was program-leader for the clinics 1997-2004, and all the speakers there participated also without economic compensation. After 2003 the O-Ringen club doesn't exist longer, so IOF and SOFT are from 2005 the leaders of "O-Ringen Academy", and it seems, as the participants are decreasing.

How did you select speakers to Clinics? Can you remember any important people who have attended there?
We tried to find the best ones, and if they are also O-Ringen-participants, they are also "cheap", because they pay their own travels to and from O-Ringen. Peter Snell - 3 Olympic Gold Medals 1960 and 1964 in 800m and 1500m running, Anders Gärderud - one Olympic Gold Medal 1976 in steeplechase-running 3000m, Kent Olsson - WOC-winner and WOC-2nd twice 1987 and 1991, and Göran Andersson - national team-chief for Great Britain, Sweden and Norway.

After all these experiences, what do you still enjoy in orienteering?
I enjoy most how different orienteering can be with sprint, middle, long and ultra-long and relay distances, night-orienteering, individual and mass-start with spreading methods and very different terrain-types. And of course I enjoy the competitions against other competitors, when I use my whole body including my brain, and also course-setting, mapping, organization, cooperation with others, orienteering as a spectator sport (also in TV), etc.

You have made many friends in different countries through orienteering. Are any special friends you would like to mention for us?
Tom Andrews from Australia (I learnt a lot from him about marketing, when I was an instructor in Australia 1975), Camilo de Mendonça from Portugal and Miguel Borrero from Spain (they made a fantastic development-work in their countries from 1986 and during 5-10 years), Lorena Kleinmann from Argentina (very worthful since about 5 years in the whole Latin-America) and Tatiana Kalenderoglu and other clever orienteering-leaders in Turkey from about 2000. Those and many others whose I remember and admire.

What do you feel about the way that you are seen by younger orienteers?
In orienteering we are very good friends, independent of age and speed, I co-operate a lot with younger orienteers (all orienteers must also be leaders) when I organize travels, especially O-Ringen autumn-east-tours, which have been organized 40 times since 1966.

Do you have orienteers in your family?
All my family including my daughter and son and my 2 granddaughters do orienteering a lot, and they also like it very much. My daughter Britt-Mari won O-Ringen 5-days in W12 in 1974 and became Swedish Junior-champion in night-orienteering in 1981, my granddaughter Frida Nilsson became 5th in Swedish championship in W-16 in 2007.

What kind of training did you do when you were younger? And now, what do you do to maintain your performance?
When I was in my best years I ran a lot of orienteering-competitions, interval training, fast other running, long-distance-skiing and strength training in gym. As an old veteran I run so many orienteering-competitions and long-distance-skiing as I can, I do bicycling, strength training and slow jogging (I have difficulties with the motivation for only running).

Do you have any special care with what you eat and drink?
I eat and drink everything which tastes very good.

What was your job before leading WWOP?
I was an officer (artillery-major) until I was about 44 years, when I retired. I have also education to sport-teacher (when I was 35), after 44 I have only been occupied with orienteering, but I don´t call it a job, it is a passion.

What are your hobbies besides orienteering?
Looking at TV and reading books.

What do you expect from WMOC 2008?
As I am the youngest in my new-age-group (M75) at WMOC in Portugal, and the terrain is the same as one of my favourite-terrain-types, I hope to run fast and right and perhaps get one or two victories.

Can you give any message to other participants?
I hope they also can take part in the first Europe Championships for Veterans, organized by my club Pan-Kristianstad 1-5 September, 2008. The terrain-types are different and excellent, and we have both middle-distance and long-distance. Myself is one of the course-setters.

(Interview by Manuel Dias. Questions and answers by e-mail. Received on 2008, Jan 18th.)


[2008-06-20] Carlos Monteiro, WMOC Event Director

[2008-06-20] Dieter Wolf, M55, SUI

[2008-06-19] Timo Teinila, WMOC speaker

[2008-06-19] Jorge Simões, WMOC Event Director assistant

[2008-06-18] Blair Trewin, M35, AUS

[2008-06-18] Mariett Matias, WMOC Media responsible

[2008-06-17] David May, WMOC Senior Event Advisor

[2008-06-16] Gottfried Tobler, M60, AUT

[2008-06-16] Tuulikki Salmenkylä, W45, FIN

[2008-06-16] Arvo Majoinen, M80, FIN

[2008-06-14] Fernando Costa, WMOC Marketing responsible

[2008-06-13] Sarah Dunn, W40, GBR

[2008-06-12] Santos Sousa, WMOC planner

[2008-06-11] Sigurd Daehli, M55, NOR

[2008-06-10] Alexandre Reis, WMOC mapper and planner

[2008-06-09] Nick Duca, M40, CAN

[2008-06-07] Tiago Aires, WMOC mapper and planner

[2008-06-06] Irina Stepanova, W55, RUS

[2008-06-05] Luís Sérgio, WMOC mapper

[2008-06-04] Ari Kattainen, M50, FIN

[2008-06-03] Rui Antunes, WMOC Mapping coordinator

[2008-06-02] Jon Musgrave, M45, GBR

[2008-05-31] Jacinto Eleutério, WMOC Course coordinator

[2008-05-30] Rune Carlsson, M70, SWE

[2008-05-29] Åke Jacobson, IOF President

[2008-05-29] Augusto Almeida, POF President

[2008-05-28] Jurate Uleviciene, W55, LIT

[2008-05-26] Vladimir Ioffe, M70, ISR

[2008-05-23] José Fernandes, M45, POR

[2008-05-21] Ezio Paris, M55, ITA

[2008-05-19] Gabriella Györffy, W40, HUN

[2008-05-16] Alberto Minguez, M40, ESP

[2008-05-14] Tomas Zdrahal, M55, CZE

[2008-05-12] Paulo Becker, M45, BRA

[2008-05-09] Ingrid Roll, W70, NOR

[2008-05-07] Jerzy Parzewski, M55, POL

[2008-05-05] Hugh Moore, M60, AUS

[2008-05-02] Martin Checkley, M55, GBR

[2008-04-30] Etienne Bousser, M60, FRA

[2008-04-28] Andreas Grote, M40, SUI

[2008-04-24] Liudmila Labutina, W65, RUS

[2008-04-22] Freddy Sillien, M60, BEL

[2008-04-17] Tomislav Kaniski, M35, CRO

[2008-04-14] Eero Tuuteri, M85, FIN

[2008-04-10] Lena Nordahl, W80, SWE

[2008-04-07] Albano João, M45, POR

[2008-04-03] Tom A. Karlsen, M55, NOR

[2008-03-31] Kayoko Sakai, W55, JPN

[2008-03-27] Finn Arildsen, M45, DEN

[2008-03-24] Anne Nurmi, W45, FIN

[2008-03-20] Peo Bengtsson, M75, SWE

[2008-03-17] Alida Abola, W50, LAT

[2008-03-13] Matti Railimo, M60, FIN

[2008-03-10] Cornelia Eckardt, W35, GER

[2008-03-06] Joaquim Sousa, M35, POR

[2008-03-03] Birgitta Olsson, W75, SWE

[2008-02-20] J. Salmenkylä, M75, FIN

[2008-02-18] Torid Kvaal, W65, NOR

[2008-02-15] Mykola Bozhko, M55, UKR

[2008-02-13] Pavlina Brautigam, W45, USA

[2008-02-11] Ferran Santoyo, M35, ESP

[2008-02-08] Sole Nieminen, W80, FIN

[2008-02-06] Stefano Galletti, M40, ITA

[2008-02-04] Gillian Ingham, W50, NZL

[2008-02-01] Jörgen Mårtensson, M45, SWE

[2008-01-30] Tom Hiltebrand, M50, SUI

[2008-01-28] Baiba Ozola, W40, LAT

[2008-01-25] Eddie Harwood, M55, GBR

[2008-01-23] Marje Viirmann, W45, EST

[2008-01-21] Alexander Afonyushkin, M40, RUS

[2008-01-18] Paulina Majova, W55, SVK

[2008-01-16] Björn Linnersjö, M65, SWE

[2008-01-15] Lillian Røss, W85, NOR

[2008-01-10] Tapio Peippo, M55, FIN

[2008-01-07] Elizabeth Brown, W90, GBR

[2008-01-04] Erkki Luntamo, M90, FIN

 
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