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WOC 2017: Time to suit up again

Markus Puusepp grew up in Vöru, a team mate of Sixten Sild who won bronze at the classic distance at WOC in Czechoslovakia in 1991. 15 years later Markus, Timo Sild, son of Sixten, and Mihkel Järveoja won gold at the relay in the Junior World Championship in Druskininkai, Lithuania. That was the first international gold to Estonia in an orienteering discipline.
– Me and the Estonian understood that we were able to be the very best, says Puusepp who is from Vöru, in the south east corner for Estonia.

11 years after the golden relay, it is time for the first WOC in Estonia. The event director of it is Mr. Puusepp. There are just six weeks left until the championships start on 30 June.
– I’m feeling quite good, he smiles. – It’s good to see that things are really happening and it’s not just planning.
Since November 2014, he has been working with WOC almost full time.

The last thing
For many orienteers in Estonia, it will be a dream come true this summer.
– A World Championships in orienteering is something we haven’t organised yet.
Some people had the idea to go for it. At a meeting in Pölva, south east Estonia, the decision was taken in July 2013, and Estonia applied to organise the championships.
– I didn’t sleep that well the night before the meeting, Markus tells.
He really wanted to take part and was ready to take a big responsibility. In fact, the biggest of all.
He had suited up forthe meeting and during the meeting he said some words that changed his daily life and has a big influence on international orienteering:
– I can be the Event Director.

More than a runner
Markus was more of a cross country skier in young childhood, but then he tried orienteering and understood that his talent and possibilities were even greater in orienteering. So, orienteering became number one. He has been, and is still, a very eager picker of controls. At JWOC in Druskininkai, he also won a bronze on the long distance. His talent and also results are more than good, but he has always done more than just taken part.
– I have always loved to organize competitions, Markus smiles.
So, as the Event Director of WOC 2017 he can both organise and work with the sport at heart.

Timo Sild, son of Sixten Sild, Mihkel Järveoja and anchor Markus Puusepp won gold in the Relay at JWOC in 2006.

The big heart
On senior level, Markus worked hard and placed 33rd in the long distance at WOC in 2009, but the very last step wasn’t taken on senior level. His heart stopped him. It wasn’t possible to push like he wanted. After 2010, he stopped going for the international top, but he is still training and doing well.
At the middle in the Estonian Championship in May he finished as number six.
– Can the WOC Event Director also be an athlete this year?
– No, for sure I will not be that, the 31-year-old smiles.
Even though Markus has trained well, as the national championships showed, there is still a step up to the top, and there is also a big reason that he can’t take part.
– I have also been involved in making the maps and working with the courses.

The greenest ever
Besides the roads, it’s often open pine forest to be seen in Estonia, but there is also much more to see, or rather not so see.
– I think it will be the greenest WOC so far, but it will be technical and interesting courses. We have been looking for the fine and challenging terrains, but it will of course be important to have the energy to work hard and not give up during the course.

The organisers
The host city of WOC in 2017 is Tartu, where the sprint will be held, and all the races are in the South Eastern part of Estonia. About 450–500 people will be involved in organising it. Most of them are from four clubs, but not at all of them.
– There are volunteers from all over the world. People from 15–20 nations will take part in organising.

15 hours live broadcast
For orienteering in Estonia, WOC has raised the interest from the media and the public a lot. From being seen as most as a sport for recreational purpose, it’s now becoming seen as a sport on top level and among the hardest of challenges.
Estonian TV will broadcast all the five finals. In total, it will be 15 hours TV. The Event Director has especially big expectations for the sprint relay.

For the Estonian athletes, the championships have been the big, big goal for a long time.
– What they can do? The hope is a medal.

Suiting up again
Now it’s just a few weeks until it really starts. The fruit of years of work will be seen and Puusepp is ready to suit up again.
WOC can soon start!

Text and photo by Erik Borg


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