Thursday, July 11, 2013

WOC in Finland...Then and Now

Grant Bluett, Troy de Haas, Rob Walt, Tommy Q...ring a bell?

Back in 2001, WOC was every two years, teams were larger, there was no live GPS tracking and there were four runners in the relay....yes it was only 12 years ago! Today on our rest day for that little bit of inspiration for the two big races that remain we take a look back at Australia's equal best ever result in a WOC men's relay, 6th place! We profile the four runners in the Australian team back in WOC 2001 in Tampere, Finland. This report has been compiled this week by the current team from contacting the guys from around the world where they currently live. (except Tom, cause he is here!)  Thanks to the four of them for sharing their thoughts on their experiences on WOC 2001!

WOC 2001  relay arena...I think.

WOC 2001 Then and Now!

First Leg : Grant Bluett
Age: 40
Grant....then winning World Games and now as as father! 
Hometown then: Sandviken, Sweden
Hometown now: Canberra, Australia
Training hours (per week) then: 12 hours +
Training hours (per week) now: 3 hours (more in summer)
Weight then: 70kg
Weight now: 80kg+
Thoughts about your race during the WOC Relay in 2001 when the team came 6th?
I remember really struggling to keep up in the first part of the race. Then towards the end feeling that I could run as fast as I wanted to. When I made a small mistake, I could catch back up to the leaders in no time. Then I ran away from the pack in the last section of the race. I was very happy to punch the last control first and soak up the atmosphere of the big crowd in the finish chute.I didn't really realise that Jani Lakanen was about to pass me before the change to TDH before it was too late...
How do you feel when you reflect back to the WOC Relay 6th place in 2001?
Great memories! Was such a great feeling to share a result like that with my mates. All four of us spent a lot of time together back then. Training, racing and lots of hanging out doing nothing (recovering...). Tom and TDH are a bit hard to hang out with these days as they live a bit far away, but its great Rob is basically part of the family these days.

Second Leg: Troy de Haas
Age: 34
Troy then competing for Turun Suunnistajat

Hometown then: Turku, Finland
Hometown now: Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong
Training hours (per week) then: 10-18 hours
Training hours (per week) now: 7 hours
Weight then: 63
Weight now: 69
Thoughts about your race during the WOC Relay in 2001 when the team came 6th?
It all happened very fast and seemed surreal at the time. None of the men's team ran particularly well during the week (couple of us cracked top 20) so we did not have high expectations going into the relay. All I remember is Grant running down the finish chute with team Sweden and Finland he just got pipped at the line by Jani Lakanen (Finland) and there I was thrown into the deep end, I could either choose to sink or swim!
Grant handed over my map and off I went, it all came very naturally after running at the front of the race at Jukola earlier that same year
(where we went on to win with Turun Suunnistajat) so running amongst world-class runners was comfortable. At a few stages during my race I hit the lead and broke away as I was so focused on my own race I did not notice at the time and handed over to Rob Walter in second place just a few seconds behind team Sweden and 30 seconds ahead of Finland. Apparently whilst a nervous Rob was warming up and waiting for the change over team Finland runner Juha Peltola (home country favourite) whispered to Rob that he was "going to kill him out there!". Which was not what Rob needed going out in front of the Finns in 2nd place all whilst on live TV. Both himself and Tom handled the pressure extremely well and managed to hold our position and record Australia's equal best performance ever in the men's relay at WOC which still stands today?!
Troy now as a travel agent to the world's cycling elite!
How do you feel when you reflect back to the WOC Relay 6th place in 2001?
Looking back it was not only a huge achievement for us as individuals but Orienteering in Australia. It was probably the first time Australian orienteers were recognized and respected to be competitive on the world stage of orienteering. We had all come from the other side of the world, committed to living in Scandinavia and being semi-professional at our sport and the rewards paid off. We had seriously challenged the Scandinavians at their own sport and in their own backyard.
I am very proud of the boys looking back and we will share this special experience and this bond for life.

Third Leg: Rob Walter
Age: 37
Rob then competing for Australia and now as a father in Canberra

Hometown then: Canberra, Australia
Hometown now: Canberra, Australia
Training hours (per week) then: 10-12 hours
Training hours (per week) now: 3-5 hours
Weight then: 76kg
Weight now: 81kg
Thoughts about your race during the WOC Relay in 2001 when the team came 6th?
Tom Q and I drove out to the race a bit later as we were running 3rd and 4th legs, we were listening on the radio and it was great to hear us going so well, we got there in time to see Grant storm up the finish in the equal lead with home favourites Finland.
Just before I was about to start the Finish 3rd leg runner came up to me and said "I'm going to kill you" I was too shocked to say anything back, but its fair to say I was pretty nervous even before that point.
Troy came back in the equal lead with Finland and running to the start I was that pumped that I trod on the Finnish runners heels I was so close behind him.
Unfortunately I made a small mistake, 45seconds or so, at the first control and that was the last I saw of Finland. The Swedish team caught me here and I battled with them for most of the rest of the race. I did a lot of small mistakes but was running very hard and in good shape which saved me a bit. From memory I came back around 5th place with quite a few teams around me, partly disappointed but also very excited we were in with a shot at the podium.

How do you feel when you reflect back to the WOC Relay 6th place in 2001?
Of all the races I did this is one of those that I think back to most. I was very new to running a relay in a high pressure situation and with the experience I have now I think I would have been a lot cooler heading out to the first control which could have changed the whole race for me.
I have also thought of a stack a things I would say back to the Finnish guy if I hadn't been so shocked at his comments at the time.
To run with Tom, Grant and Troy who are great mates and finish on the podium at the world champs was one of the best experiences I have had in orienteering but at the same I think about how much better it might have been if I had had a really good race like the other guys did.

Fourth Leg: Tom Quayle
Age: 37
Stylish Tom then posing for the cameras!

Hometown then: Sundsvall, Sweden
Hometown now: Örnsköldsvik, Sweden
Training hours (per week) then: 10 hours +
Training hours (per week) now: 1 hour
Weight then: 66kg
Weight now: 76kg
Thoughts about your race during the WOC Relay in 2001 when the team came 6th?
Got a good start after getting sent out in a great spot by Grant, Troy and Rob. Ran really hard through the spectator control and knew we were in for a good result. Started feeling the nerves on the final loop and made a mistake in a difficult section and was really relieved to find out I hadn't lost any places there. 

Tom now as WOC team coach...still posing for the cameras...some things don't change!
How do you feel when you reflect back to the WOC Relay 6th place in 2001?
My strongest memory is how nervous I was before the start, listening to the guys going really well and trying to control my nerves was a real struggle, I just felt sick. I was so impressed with how the other guys ran and they inspired me.The coaches were also really good and did their best to help us. I am happy to have been a part of a great result together with such good friends.

The team will certainly be taking some inspiration from those interviews into the next set of races this week! Thanks boys!

In other news...the team had a very relaxing day with various restful things happening throughout, from a few laps in the heated indoor pool for Wendy and Aislinn to a few hills intervals for Felicity and Wendy (again). Watch out for Wendy at Aus Champs! 
But the highlight was our supporters afternoon tea. This allowed us to thank the supporters who are here all week competing in their own spectators races and providing great support for the team out at the WOC races! 
Elin, our Swedish physio also arranged a special competition which fits into our overall in-house team competition (more about this later) for the team and supporters which provided endless entertainment. I'll let the pictures and video speak for themselves! 

The boys organised everything....

Simon even baked kanelbulle

To be honest.. the girls baked and made everything and it was delicious!

The team and supporters enjoying the lakeside setting

The final game...catch a biscuit from your forehead in your mouth with no hands....who won? Watch the video!

The action continues tomorrow with the middle qualification. In action and their start times we have: 
Jasmine Neve 16.13 AEST
Vanessa Round 16.19 AEST
Hanny Allston 16.43 AEST

Bryan Keely 17.25 AEST
Lachlan Dow 17.47 AEST
Simon Uppill 18.19 AEST 

Cheer them on live here

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