Major interpreter of the Spanish “fury”, Andreu Blanes spent a few days in Portugal where he achieved a very motivating set of results. The Portuguese Orienteering Blog met him, listening to his thoughts on the present moment and the main steps looking forward to the Estonian mission.
It's not the first time you win a Sprint race in Aguiar da Beira, is it? Does this distance have any special meaning for you?
Andreu Blanes (A. B.) - The Sprint is my favourite distance to run, or rather, my best distance, and the one I've been practising more for the World Orienteering Championshops, so it has a very special meaning to me.
Does this course meet your demands for a good sprint race?
A. B. - It's a typical portuguese town, with narrow streets, great concentration of controls, some faster areas and I think it's a fine place for a Sprint race.
Where did the secret towards your victory lie?
A. B. - I believe it was the speed. I'm in great shape, the legs performed the way I expected them to (laughs), and I was able to run quickly, keep a cool head and make the best options.
How do you rate yourself at this moment, after these events here in Portugal?
A. B. - I feel really well. In the beginning of the season, a few mates and I moved to Madrid and practised intensely, so we were curious as to know how our bodies would respond to these high-skill, competitive environments. But it looks as though we are fit, feelings are great and we evaluate our performances and results in a very positive manner. On the other hand, these Portuguese terrains are very different from the ones I'm used to back home, and it's great to achieve results so close to the ones achieved by the best in the world.
Did moving to Madrid implicate any kind of change to your training method?
A. B. - Yes, there was a great deal of changes. Antonio Martinez and I didn't have a coach anymore, so now we're working according to our own plan. I believe we already know enough to do so, and we're also practising more, so that is the biggest difference in relation to the last years.
At the end of the Costa Calida Trophy it was possible to see José Enrique Barcia, President of the Spanish Orienteering Federation, meet the Spanish Elite group and give them his full support. How do you assess this new president's dynamic? Are there any changes that begin to be noticed?
A. B. - Yes, president Barcia has a different way of thinking as opposed to our last president, but he's been in charge for too little time, so there really isn't much to say as of now. But he's someone with fresh perspectives and who seems open minded about our ideas, so I believe his work will be very profitable.
What are the most important steps in your preparation?
A. B. - In a month we'll have the Spanish Orienteering Championships, which are always a very exciting and important moment. After that, I will focus only on the WOC. Of course, the big Relays with my Swedish team will always be very important moments, but the main goal is to perform well in the World Championships.
You talked about the big Relays and, if I can recall correctly, one of your finest achievements last season was the Tiomila victory. How do you evaluate 2016?
A. B. - Well, my goals for the season were probably too ambitious, mostly because I performed very well in 2015 and so the first impression I got of the season was kind of disappointing. But looking back on it now, I realize it didn't go as badly as I previously thought, and there was that definitely special moment when we won Tiomila, which is something I will never forget. As for the WOC, I won't say that I did a bad job, but whoever scores a 7th place in 2015 and ends up in 14th place can't be truly pleased. The truth is I made a wrong option which cost me some places in the standings, but this is Orienteering and we should all learn from our mistakes.
You've said WOC is your main goal for 2017 and I'm sure you'll bet on the Sprint again in Estonia.
A. B. - Yes, that definitely is my main goal, but I also wish to run the Middle Distance. I won't tell you which results I'm going for, but I'm sure you can guess them (laughs).
So, you goal is to achieve a WOC medal.
A. B. - Yes, a WOC medal is the next step. I finished in 7th place in 2015, less than a second away from reaching the podium and 5 seconds away from the medals, so I'll see if I can take that big step this year.
To conclude, I'd ask you to leave a word to the Portuguese organizations.
A. B. - You do awesome work and what you're able to create in these events is terrific, and something we definitely need in Orienteering in order to attract more public. I must thank you for your great job, especially for the Elite athletes.