Who is Who
Augusto Almeida, POF President
How did the idea of applying for the WMOC just occur and when did Portugal start to work on it?
The idea was a suggestion by the usual participants Carlos Monteiro, Isabel Monteiro, Rui Antunes, Fernando Costa and others, in the summer of 2004. The enthusiasm of these athletes took the POF direction, in September of that year, to perform a first evaluation of its feasibility. The result showed us it would be an interesting challenge that would represent the need for another technological jump in orienteering and a unique opportunity to promote the sport in Portugal.
The IOF decision attributing the organisation to Portugal was received with surprise?
Yes and no. Yes, due to the strong competition disputing the application, and no because our application was clear, precise and objective in all the criteria requested by IOF and adding innovation either in promotion or the way of execution. Our initial work was well done and the following work has been of the same level. I believe that until the end it will be the same.
How many people and how many clubs are involved in the organisation and when did the work in the terrain start?
The Organising Committee has 350 persons. The club partners of POF involved in the organization are 8, but the elements of the Committee are originated from about 20 national clubs. The beginning of the work started in 2004 with the selection of possible areas, informal contacts with potential local partners and selection of the key staff.
The registered number of athletes is lower than the last two years. Do you have any explanation to this?
Our expectations, with our climate and security, were higher than the official 3500 registered. I don't have an adequate explanation, but I admit that it may be a reflection of several factors like economical international crisis, fear of flying of many athletes and peripheral location to the Nordic countries. In my opinion, the athletes that did not register will loose the opportunity to enjoy our sun, our pinewoods, our gastronomy and the friendship of Portuguese people.
Introducing the sprint in the WMOC represents more work to the organisation, but also higher challenge and bigger profit opportunity. What is the balance of the introduction of this new discipline?
Our initial proposal included the 3 disciplines (sprint, middle and long distances). After the negotiations with IOF, it was decided to include only the sprint, allowing the long distance to maintain the traditional model (2 qualifications and final). So, the solution arranged with IOF is well balanced with our proposal, and didn't represent more work. More profit is obviously a mistake because the athletes who participate in the 2 sprint competitions only have to pay 10€, what annuls that thesis. The introduction of the sprint, to us, has to do with the specificness of the discipline and the chance to reward good athletes in it.
What is the best Portugal has to offer in this WMOC: Terrain? Arena? Something surprisingly in another sector?
The best?! Portugal. We are working to have the best marks in all aspects like arenas, terrain, maps, logistics, reception, health, atmosphere, social promotion, etc. Above all we want that all the athletes to enjoy not only a good championship but also a spectacular stay in Portugal.
What will be the things that will bring happiness to the POF president in the closing ceremony of WMOC, in the beginning of the afternoon on the 5th July?
I am happy with the privilege that orienteering gave to me as leader in the last 6 years and the many friends I have met. It was possible to demonstrate that it is possible "to do" even with very limited financial support. It was possible to mobilise people to volunteer work. It was possible to realise many projects and support lots of initiatives and the results are starting to appear. On 5th July?! To see happy faces on the athletes and to see our staff exhaust but smiling.
Leiria's pine wood, and specifically the area of Marinha Grande, was already the location of one World Cup competition in 2000 and of World Schools Orienteering Championship in 2002. Why was this region chosen again, when there is terrain also with interesting challenges in the north and Alentejo?
The principal reason is the technical quality of Leiria's pine wood that has excellent conditions to hold these championships (masters), either the plants covering the soil and the type of soil. Other important factors to the choice were the availability of volunteer technical workers in the region, the fact of being central in terms of national territory, the wealth region patrimony, the proximity of the beaches, the extensive hotel chain, the interest of the councils and regional institutions. North and south will have also its one opportunity soon since its unequivocal technical value justifies it. The World MTBOC'10 will be held in Barroso and Alto Tâmega region, well to the north.
Portugal received the IOF congress in 1998 and organised one World Cup in 2000, the CISM in 2001 and World Schools Orienteering Championship in 2002. Six years later a new cycle of international exposition starts: WMOC in 2008 and WOC MTB in 2010. What is the reason for this new projection of Portuguese orienteering and in what degree is Portugal prepared to assure the success of these two great events?
The past was important and should deserve all our respect. From the cited events I was part of the organisation of the World Cup and of CISM. This new cycle, if we can call it, is the normal development of the work that has been done in the sport either by new orienteering clubs and new technical staff, either with strategically restructuring of the federation that, fortunately, is subscribed by overwhelming majority of national orienteers. I do not have any doubt on the success of both championships (WMOC'08 and WMTBOC'10) and I dare to bet in the future we will be able to organise other new events (JWOC? European Championships?).
You are the third POF president. Camilo Mendonça created the federation in 1990 and established the competition bases (with the major support of Cândido de Oliveira in the north and Francisco Pereira in the south); and Higino Esteves (1994-2002) introduced orienteering in the schools and registered Portugal in the world board of sport, becoming himself part of the IOF Council. Do you agree with this appreciation? In summary, what facts do you point to as the most important in the Portuguese orienteering history during your predecessors?
The POF in a few months will be 18 years old! My vision of the development achieved is close to the development of a young boy. Camilo and Higino were both very important and their place in the history of the sport in the country is assured. Their collaborators were also very important.
Since your arrival to the Presidency of POF (2002), what were your main challenges and in what measure have they been achieved? What is your target to the end of the present mandate (2008)? What are the important marks that you think, from these two mandates, will stay to the Portuguese orienteering history?
The challenges were many and not all of them pleasant. I think that with the commitment of all my friends integrating the directing body, the social body and the technical body, and the important agreement of the clubs, it was possible to realise most of our goals (transparent management, youth support, club support, media coverage, financial clearance, cartography, formation, re-equipment, etc.). My mandate will end in November (it was decided to finish one year early to conform with sport base law and to allow the future team to have time to prepare for MTBO'10) and without another target than leaving the sport in a sustainable position to our successors. Marks?! We did not have the intention of leaving marks... history will say.
In 1992, at a time in which Portuguese orienteering was still mainly practised by the militaries, the Captain Augusto Almeida made the bases for the future Ori-Estarreja, that would be several years the biggest Portuguese club. Looking back, how do you see that time and the course that the sport followed?
As referred before, the Portuguese orienteering is young, this year is 18 years old. The first reason of Ori-Estarreja were my children Mafalda and António and its friends... to give them the opportunity of a healthy life style, a group of reliable friends and an adequate social and environmental conscience. Luckily everything was right, either in the 8 years running the club either in the next ones, even with the normal highs and lows I am happy by the results achieved and for whom hundreds (thousands?) of dedicated people contributed individually and collectively.
Today, beside associations with a small number but with great organisation capacity (.COM for example) and competitive (ADFA for example), the Portuguese orienteering is dominated by 4 big clubs: Ori-Estarreja (since 1992), GD 4Caminhos (since 1998), COC (since 2002) and CPOC (since 2002). Do you agree with this reading? Do you think that the organization on the club level is stabilised?
The retrospective is more or less correct if we look at the global. But if we read the facts in a more particular way, this is not so correct (even in the past with CIMO and AAMafra) since we have excellent "phenomenon" like SRSPG (Gafanhoeira), OriMarão and CAMadeira. In the last 6 years 60 new clubs were affiliated and they will continue to appear and the events that were around 30 are now more than 100 per year. In my opinion, the fundamental is the good will (alma mater) to lead the projects and, with the development, the future will be certainly enticing.
What is the reading of the "disappearing" of Lebres do Sado club, that were the responsible by forming three of the best Portuguese juniors (Romão, Fortunato and Fábio)? And what do you think about the phenomenon that is emerging in Gafanhoeira, guided by two elite champions, working with young people in a Portuguese region (interior Alentejo) usually forgotten?
Unfortunately Lebres disappeared because it was not possible to ensure the (excellent) technical staff a minimum of conditions to continue their work. I was as sad as they. As said, the SRSPGafanhoeira is one of the excellent examples that it is possible to live a passion. Tiago and Raquel are in my heart for their generosity, courage and dedication.
How many clubs and orienteers exist at present in Portugal? And what is the annual budget of POF?
At present we have about 85 clubs in activity that handle more than 2500 participants with a valid license. There are still 30 clubs with low activity and about 1000 athletes that don't renew their license regularly. The annual budget of POF is about 300.000€ (except this year that is much superior related with the organisation of WMOC'08).
Luís Sérgio, Mário Duarte, Alexandre Reis, Daniel Pires, Kátia Almeida and Alice Silva, in the past, Marco Póvoa, Tiago Aires, Joaquim Sousa, Maria Sá and Raquel Costa, in the last years, are some of the names more representative of Portuguese elite in foot orienteering. However, the only national athlete ranked in "World of O" is Marco Póvoa in 233rd place. What is missing from Portugal to obtain a great result at international level?
Financial support, since only the frequent and continued participation allow the technical development and needed experience to achieve the expected results. But I should repeat that our strategy had other priorities (young people, formation, credibility, equipment, mediatisation, etc.). Not in the very far future, if actual premises hold or improve, results will appear either in foot orienteering or in MTBO.
One week after WMOC, starts the WOC in Olomouc, Czech Republic. What are your expectation concerning Portuguese results?
Until today what is asked to the athletes is dignity, commitment and fair play. To all World and European events of 2008 and 2009 the same is true. To 2010... maybe something more is possible to ask!
Apparently, the youngest classes include some good promises: Diogo Miguel was the 2007 European Champion of Sprint in M18 and Vera Alvarez was, in 2008, the World Schools Orienteering Champion in Middle Distance. And we have had solid results also with Joana Costa, Mariana Moreira, Tiago Romão, Jorge Fortunato and David Sayanda. What the POF President expects from these and eventually other names in the next years?
Sincerely I expect that they form themselves as citizens and academically at the highest level. If they manage, by dedication and hard work, good sport results too, all the better. The POF strategy is defined by support that is given to the young and, either the cited ones or any of the other young participants, can only bring more participants, more technical development and... results.
Has Portugal any plan for Portuguese young traineeship abroad?
At federative level, no. There are a few projects of clubs that POF may support if presented with the necessary planning and fundament.
When we look to Portuguese maps from 8 or 10 years back, we find, together with Armando Rodrigues, mostly foreign names: Alexander Shirinian, Vladimir Pantsir, Victor Dobretsov, Leonid Malankov, Valentin Pravilo. Today, practically all the maps are made by national cartographers, with distinction for the 4 undertaken for the WMOC'08 maps: Rui Antunes, Luís Sérgio, Alexandre Reis and Tiago Aires. Do you want to comment on this evolution?
I think that is the expected result of the formation provided and the experience obtained, were the cited names have a significant contribute on the development of our cartography. Of course the federative strategy gave a big contribute with the planning and regulation of the activity, which allowed the appearance of professional cartographers.
Since its first edition in 1996, Portugal "O" Meeting always attracted some of the stars of world orienteering, but this phenomenon was specially evident in the last years, with the presence of several national teams sending their athletes to compete in a time of the year (February) that most part of north and central Europe is still under strict winter. And also the training camps, mostly COC and Estarreja but likewise in Alentejo, bring to Portugal many of the international elite figures. How do you judge this flux of athletes and the growing recognition of Portuguese organisations and the quality of our terrain and maps?
I would say that is the natural result of the sport evolution, allied to the natural conditions and country security, and to the very good work by our clubs. In all this process/path, the most important were the persons (managers and technical staff) and their love of the sport.
I finish, congratulating everyone, many times anonymously, who have contributed to the development of orienteering in Portugal. Thank your for being athletes of the world's greatest sport.
(Interview by Manuel Dias. Questions and answers by e-mail. Received on 2008 May 19th. Translation by Ricardo Serra and Mariett Matias, revised by Norman Jones.)
[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