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Portugal O’Meeting: almost 1700 participants

With almost 1700 participants, the Portugal O’ Meeting 2014 is over. On the only Long Distance course of the event week, Simone Niggli and Thierry Gueorgiou were the first to start… and the first to finish!

The 19th edition of the Portugal O ‘Meeting, the most important event of the national regular calendar of Foot orienteering, came to the end. The organisation – of the CPOC – Clube Português de Orientação e Corrida and the Municipality of Gouveia – offered to the last day a Long Distance course, revisiting some of the most emblematic points of the previous days, in a perfect blend of technical complexity and physical capability.

The chasing start saw the leaders in Men Super Elite class and Women Elite class – respectively Thierry Gueorgiou (Kalevan Rasti) and Simone Niggli (OK Tisaren) – with comfortable advantages.  

“A very positive test”

In Men Super Elite class, Thierry Gueorgiou was the only athlete to finish the course faster than in one hour and twenty minutes, concluding the 13.9 km of his course in 1:19:47. The second position went to the Swiss Andreas Rüedlinger (Leksands OK), 2:21 behind Gueorgiou, while the third place went to the Czech Jan Petrzela (OK Kare), with the time of 1:22:12. With this result, Thierry Gueorgiou confirmed the lead and won the Portugal O’ Meeting for the fourth time (third consecutive). But it was an exciting race nevertheless, from the sensational rise of Andreas Rüedlinger from the 17th place to the 6th place in the end, to the “tumble” of the Swede Oskar Sjöberg (OK Linné), from the 4th position to a place outside the top-10.


In the end, Thierry Gueorgiou was very satisfied with his victory, “even though that the start field of the competition wasn’t stronger than previous editions.” For the multi-champion French, “the set of four races of the Portugal O’ Meeting ended up being a very positive test for the future, showing that I made very few mistakes and I’m in a good shape”. Talking about this last course, Thierry said: “It was what I was waiting for, a mixture of all the terrains of the preceding stages, which became very interesting with the more technical parts of the second and third days and many options on the longest legs.” For the moment, the balance “is very positive”, but “we are facing the European Championships and there are still many things to improve. From now on, my aim is to work even harder, still train a lot and I hope that all this work can be rewarded”, he concluded.

“Technical demanding terrain”

After finishing eight on the first day, Jan Prochazka managed to improve steadily on the overall table, reaching the final second position. Prochazka comments: “After the first course I was quite surprised with my result, but the young Swedish guys started really strong. I wasn’t so much in front of the results since the beginning, but after the two Middle Distances I got a clear second position and I said to myself that I could keep it.”

Asked about the best of the four stages, Jan chooses the second one, “nicer that the third stage, even if I stayed scared because of the problems with the readability of the map” and talk about this another experience in Portugal: “When I ran the Model Event, I didn’t expect too much, but in the end it was quite technical demanding terrain and I enjoyed it a lot. Last weekend, at the Mediterranean Championships, I felt like I had lost some speed, but the three first stages at POM showed that my speed is getting better and better. I’ll work on it during the next month and I hope to be ready to run fast in the European Championships, which I think it would be very important.”

Lisa Risby, surprisingly

In the Women Elite class, Simone Niggli (OK Tisaren) was again in focus, making a great course in the time of 1:14:46 to 10,5 km of distance. The Swedish Annika Billstam (OK Linné) achieved the second fastest time, spending 1.5 minutes more than the winner, while the third place went to the Finnish Riina Kuuselo (Tampereen Pyrintö), redeeming from the less successful results in the previous stages and ending 2:11 behind the winner. Overall the four stages, Simone Niggli was the winner,for the fifth consecutive time and the sixth time in general (Simone won her first POM at the beginning of her brilliant career, in 2002).

Winner of the Middle Distance WRE course on Monday, Maria Magnusson (Sävedalens AIK) knew how to keep the second position, finishing with a little more than ten minutes from the winner overall. The Junior World Champion of Long Distance, the very young Swedish Lisa Risby (OK Kare) also deserves the title of star of this edition of the Portugal O ‘Meeting, climbing five places in the final stage and getting an honourable third position overall. Second at POM 2013, the Swedish Annika Billstam was sensational in this last stage, finishing in the fourth final position.

“Always worth to coming to the Portugal O’ Meeting”

Like Thierry Gueorgiou, also Simone Niggli expressed her satisfaction at the end of the event: “Of course, I’m very happy and glad with this overall victory and I think that I did three good races and one very bad. Otherwise, I was stable all the week and at the weekend, and it was another nice experience in very surprising and demanding terrains, so it is always worth to coming to the Portugal O’ Meeting.” Simone also takes a brief look at the “very bad” course: “The problem was that I just not read the map carefully enough. I should have done it very slowly and read every boulder on the map. The terrain was something unexpected and I didn’t react on the right way, but things happen and I’m happy because I did a good race again today.”


How did the athlete react when looking at the map on the long distance and realising that part of the course went in the terrains she had had so big troubles in, that is the next question. The athlete gives a laugh and answers: “Yes, when I saw it I was a bit… how to say… I didn’t fear it but it came to my mind and I wanted to do it better. I think it was a very fair course and even though it was a 1:15000 map scale, you’re able to read the map and the controls were right set, so you could really find them without it being a matter of luck. Perhaps I did my best race today, no big mistakes and… yeah, I’m very happy.” Are we going to see you continue to win the Portugal O’ Meeting in the next five years? (laughs) “We’ll see. I think that my shape will be worse and worse every year, but I have a lot of experience and I hope to come back again in the next years.”

“This is what I love!”

 For Maria Magnusson, to run to the victory meant to recover from an advantage of 6:05 to Simone Niggli. Impossible task? The athlete answers: “My focus was never on Simone, actually. I just focused on trying to do a good course. I felt my body very tired, but I was really full focused on the two Middle Distances and I was mentally very tired too. I didn’t make really big mistakes, I took it quite easy but I’m still happy. It wasn’t my best course, but still a controlled course.”

To choose the best one of the four stages is really easy: “Yesterday, of course (laughs). But I liked the second stage as well. I think they were really good Middle Distances, technically demanding, a top game. Every Middle Distance race should be like these, and I really hope that orienteering stays technically demanding because I’m a little bit worried about the future. I can see more and more Sprint competitions, more and more easy running.” To compete at the Portugal O’ Meeting wasn’t in Maria’s plans since the beginning: “My first plans were Slovenia, but since the test races for the European Championships were here, I came here instead. I expected a technical training camp, and this was, actually, much better than I expected. The competitions were so technical and so good, it was really nice. If POM is up here again I’ll surely return. This is what I love!”

Overall Results

Men Super Elite

1. Thierry Gueorgiou (Kalevan Rasti) 3:16:26

2. Jan Prochazka (Kalevan Rasti) 3:33:26 (+17:00)

3. Hannu Airila (Kalevan Rasti) 3:35:31 (+19:05)

4. Olli-Markus Taivanen (Pellon Ponsi) 3:39:45 (+23:19)

5. Jakob Lööf (MOKS) 3:41:14 (+24:48)

6. Andreas Rüedlinger (Leksands OK) 3:41:36 (+25:10)

7. Jan Petrzela (OK Kare) 3:41:54 (+25:28)

8. Andreu Blanes (Colivenc) 3:42:59 (+26:33)

9. Rassmus Andersson (OK Linné) 3:43:44 (+27:18)

10. Lauri Sild (Hiidenkiertäjät) 3:48:58 (+32:32)


Women Elite

1. Simone Niggli (OK Tisaren) 3:25:58

2. Maria Magnusson (Sävedalens AIK) 3:36:15 (+10:17)

3. Lisa Risby (OK Kare) 3:43:45 (+17:47)

4. Annika Billstam (OK Linné) 3:43:55 (+17:57)

5. Karoliina Sundberg (Lynx) 3:43:57 (+17:59)

6. Ulrika Uotila (Koovee) 3:44:12 (+18:14)

7. Outi Ojanen (Kangasala SK) 3:44:17 (+18:19)

8. Riina Kuuselo (Tampereen Pyrintö) 3:44:36 (+18:38)

9. Kristin Lofgren (Varegg) 3:51:57 (+25:59)

10. Anna Nähri (IFK Göteborg) 3:54:48 (+28:50)


All the information at


Text and photos: Joaquim Margarido


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