As a male reserve at home I watched the WOC in Switzerland intensely. It was nice to see Minna performing her best level and taking gold in middle distance. It was also nice to see Finnish younger generation aged 22-28 to perform well in individual races. In the men's distances a new guy was the best Finn in every individual race: Tuomo Mäkelä 6th in sprint, Hannu Airila 11th in middle and Fredric Portin 14th in long. Of course, well is not enough, if positions are outside ten, but for these athletes it sure can be a good result. The best result they've ever made in top level.
In Finland we have used to wait medals from our representatives in WOC, but for male athletes it's not normal anymore. The position in top 6, like Mäkelä did in sprint, was very good. The same kind of direction is shown in Junior WOC, where the medals are very rare nowadays. There are surely many things that we have tried to do about this in Finland, but the reasons are already in the children aged 10-15, who don't move enough. Orienteering is endurance sport, where you need map reading and motorical skills. A lot of endurance basic is done already 5-15 years of age. And same time you can learn the basics of orienteering skills.
WOC 2012 gave me contradictory feelings, because the guys concerning my selection to WOC didn't do their standard level performances. Especially Jarkko Huovila and Olli-Markus Taivainen didn't have the kind of WOC they were expected. I could follow the individual races with coolness, although I felt I should have been there running for better results. Anyway, I couldn't show that in selection races, so the best were running there. But, because in orienteering you can't be sure of the level of the performance otherwise than comparing to the rivals, you don't know, if many Finns could have performed better or not. I just hope that we don't feel or think that our level in Finland is something like 35th position in WOC.
In the relay I just couldn't follow the race relaxed. Actually I felt furious. How can they run so bad, I was asking myself. I was also asking, why and how the team was selected like this. It seems that in Finland the WOC-relay is the last and least important race, where you just put the runners in some kind of order after individual performances during the WOC-week. Hopefully, this was the last time we do like this, because it's important to make the relay more important much before the WOC.
How can we do better in WOC-relay? Anyway, it's very rare that the Finns perform better than expected in WOC (or olympics). We are maybe too analytical and too realistical to be able to break the walls and run through the grey stones. For us it's just to avoid mistakes. Where is that attitude "with full speed and no mistakes". And I would add to it that we always fight for victory. It's realistic for Minna to say that I'm in WOC to win, but it should be in the dreams of every top athelete to train for the victory and do the very best to achieve the realism of the victory.
The National Sprint project has been successful in Finland and Mäkelä's 6th place in Lausanne was the best result from that and it was also the best result for Finnish men when taking into account the relay too! What is this telling? For me it tells that we need the same kind of projects for forest distances as we've had in the sprint. Especially the relay project, but also a long distance project among the National Team.
If we just train without focus, we end up in a WOC without focus. The results we have seen now in Switzerland. Next year we want better results in Vuokatti for sure. I enter myself to long distance and relay project, because I've been there to win these distances and I have a clue what is needed for victory.
I also know that when aging you become softer and the importance of fighting for medals is not anymore the greatest value in your life. When playing with your kid and watching your baby to cry and smile, you understand the deeper meaning of life, in your heart. It's possible to find that meaning also in the trip of training life towards WOC-medals during next year and thanks to the Finnish men worst performance ever in WOC-relay I found again my fighting spirit.
My next goal is in NORT (1.-8.9.). I know that I can fight for the top positions in sprint and middle distance too, when I'm in my best. Actually I believe I'm guite good when counting both sprint and middle, even though the specialists can be a little bit better. I've always been in my best in tournaments like O-weeks: Kainuu 2012, Swiss-O-week 2011 and even O-ringen 2009 (I was fighting surprisingly for 3rd place and ended 5th). NORT final is in Vuokatti, so it would be wonderful to be there in the end of this "training season" before the project Vuokatti 2013 :-)