We are starting series of interviews with the best Bulgarian athletes who had participated in EYOC and young European athletes that will run next year in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria. We want to present them to you with some interesting stories like how they started orienteering or their expectations about EYOC 2018 terrains, next year goals and much more.
G.K.: How did you start with orienteering?
A.A.: I was 4 when I had my 1st competition. My parents introduced me to the sport.
G.K.: What is your favorite orienteering discipline and why?
A.A.: Middle distance is my favorite one because the runner has to be really precise with his navigation, and also should be able to control his pace when passing areas with different difficulty.
G.K.: When was your first EYOC and how did it go?
A.A.: 2008 in Switzerland was my 1st EYOC. Since I was one of the youngest on the team, I had to start early – breakfast at 5:15, bus leaving at 6:00 for the long distance, start minute 00:01. I got caught by an Italian runner and more or less we ran together, even though we were choosing different routes for the long legs. I ran mixed relay the next day. At the sprint, I was again one of the early starters, but the fort-like town of Solothurn was actually a fun place to run.
G.K.: What is your best result in EYOC competition?
A.A.: My best result was 1st place during EYOC 2011 in Jindřichův Hradec. At the sprint race, held in Třeboň, I had a slow start of the race, but I managed to pick up the pace and keep the concentration until the very end of the race. There was power outage, so all I could hear during the arena passage were chants, the run-in was crowded, like those Tour de France mountain passages, and the official results took quite long to be announced. I remember I just took my jacket and started anxiously running around in the allowed area and checking the official results every 4-5 minutes. Once the results were announced, the euphoria took over and I started jumping around. The opening ceremony and prize giving ceremony were held shortly after, and that is a day that I will be remembering for very long time.
G.K.: What is your worst result in EYOC – can you tell us few words about what did go wrong?
A.A.: I don’t look at my results as place, but rather as expectations I had before the race and performance during the race. I would say that the worst result I had was in 2012 in Meymac, France. At the sprint I was supposed to take a narrow passage between 2 olive areas, and having in mind that one of the olive areas was probably a driveway for a garage, I went through a door right next to the passage and into the olive and followed the fence, until the fence blocked my way. I couldn’t believe what I had done. When I got back to right way, I saw the runner starting 1 minute behind me (finished 3rd,) already exiting the control at least a 100 meters away from me. Soon after I got caught by another runner, who was having a really strong performance (would have been top 3, but mispunched the 1st control), and we ran together until the end.
G.K.: What do you think is the most important part of the preparation for EYOC?
A.A.: Apart from the mandatory running training, in my opinion, a lot of high pressure competitions help. Also having fun during trainings is really important.
G.K.: What do you think about the terrains planned for EYOC 2018 in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria?
A.A.: I have run many times on these terrains, and I can assure everyone that tough challenges await them. Narrow passages, passible and impassible walls, high cliffs, running on contour, route choices, all of that and more!
G.K.: What are you doing at the moment and can you share some of your goals?
A.A.: I am currently focusing on improving my performance and endurance during long distance races.
*If you want to nominate an young athlete from your country for an interview, please send us an email to grigor.vt(at)gmail.com with your nomitation, some basic information about their results and goals and why to include him or her in our series. Include their contact information (email or facebook profile) so we can send the questions to the chosen ones.