In August after O-Ringen new challenges awaits one of the absolute best orienteers though all times. How do he view his last elite season and how will he take on the new job as technical coach?
We met up with Thierry Gueorgiou who after this season will begin as a technical coach for the Swedish national team. Since it is his last season as an elite runner it is the last chance to see him in the role at WOC and what is planned to be the final race, O-Ringen. In August, he steps into his new role. It's an impressive career that after O-Ringen will continue to create opportunities for others to develop and win big championships.
You are doing your last elite season, what do you aim to experience and achieve?
Of course, I have quite high expectations if we only talk about results and achievements, as I always had during my entire career. But I can feel that this year is a bit different in the way that I want to enjoy it fully. I have always seen all this as a chance, a life where my biggest passion – orienteering, has become my job. This chapter of my life is coming to a true close now, but I still have those 4 last months to savour it all.
What are your thoughts about upcoming 10MILA, which leg will you run?
Well, I am pretty excited about this 10MILA. Partly because the terrain will be challenging and different from the ones we have usually when 10mila is organized around Stockholm. But most of all, I feel excited to have a chance to run another time with the KR-gang (Kalevan Rasti). We all aged, but I still can feel that we have a super strong team. Not too many team can possibly start with 6 relay World champion in their line-up, and if we play smart, we might have the chance to experience another nice Sunday morning in Sweden as a team. I guess it is still a little bit too early to know about the leg I am going to run as a lot of things can happen in the coming weeks. The spring is always a critical period, you know, when it comes to injury and sickness as it is the transition between highly loaded training months and the competition season. The most important for me at the moment is simply to focus on trainings to offer solution instead of problem to our coaches.
Will it be last chance to see you at O-Ringen Värmland 2017 as a runner or will you continue with such competitions in the future?
Well, no one knows really! My main priority for the future is to become successful as a coach, as it is going to be the next chapter of my life. Of course, I will keep training on a regular basis as I want to be able to follow the runners in action, and also because I can´t imagine my life without physical activities. This said, I have no idea if I will still find it fun to compete while not being perfectly prepared. But, I must also say that I have already checked carefully the homepage of O-Ringen 2018 at Höga Kusten, and I already know it will be pretty hard to stay away from that competition as the terrains look really exciting up there!
How do you value the different orienteering achievements you have reached so far?
This is an interesting question, because we compare completely different things. Of course, I will always value my first WOC gold medal from 2003 in Switzerland on top of the pile, because it somehow changed my life. Even though the second one, right after in 2004, in Sweden, had a bigger meaning, as it was clearly the proof I had understood what were the ingredients of the success, and it wasn´t a matter of luck. But if I look back now, I will always say that the real focus of an elite orienteer is, and will always be, World Championships, but there are races which created, at least the same if not more, range of emotions. And, for me, the feelings I experienced when I crossed Jukola and O´ringen finishes as a winner is something I will never forget.
What is your best memory from O-Ringen?
Always the last stage. You know you have to finish the job, you are deadly tired, but you keep lying to yourself while keeping a positive talk and attitude. That day is clearly the most intense. Your first thought when you wake up is something like “I will never make it to the start”, but then you enter in your pre-race routines, and quickly everything is in control again. And if you have been doing your job properly, the last 5 minutes of the race are pure enjoyment, because you know nothing can stop you anymore, and you let the emotions fill your body literally. Unique.
Has it always been orienteering for you or have you been doing other sports than orienteering?
There is only one other sport that I have played with consistency when I was younger, it was handball. But quickly, orienteering has been my only focus. And, yeah, it is something I think I would have really enjoyed, and somehow regret a bit – to play a team sport.
What do you think are the keys to your success as an orienteer?
Hard to say. Clearly, the orienteering technique has always been my biggest strength and also where my self-confidence comes from. I have always said that when you stand on the start line of a World championships race, it is a lot more comfortable if you don´t have to think about what you have to do, that all the process has become more or less so natural, that you just have to turn on the “autopilot” mode. But in fact, the most important factor has probably been that I have never been able to enjoy my success more than 5 minutes without thinking about the next race. That´s why I have to make sure to keep being busy after my elite career stop.
What are you looking forward to when you in August start as technical coach for the Swedish national team?
Well, I couldn´t have dreamed for a better place to start coaching really, and I am thankful to all those persons who made it possible. Of course, I still have to prove I am good enough for the task, and the biggest mistake I could do would be to only rely on my past experiences. I will meet people with the same desire to succeed as me, and I will have to gain their respect, not because of my previous achievements, but because of the quality of my work and the way I will understand them. Really exciting, and this is something which makes me very motivated.
Lots of young orienteers have you as an idol, which one can see by the number of autographs you sign after stage five at O-Ringen, do you have any role models?
Not anymore really. When I was a teenager, I was much inspired by the Swede Kent Olsson and the Norwegian Petter Thoresen. Somehow, I tried hard to follow in their footsteps. Nowadays, I try to get inspiration mostly from other sport/sportsman, and for example I try to understand what makes a Roger Federer and Zinedine Zidane still successful in the respective stages of their career.
Looking back at your career, if you were to give one advice to young orienteers, what would that be?
“Don´t expect it to be easy, it isn´t for any of us!” By saying this, I just want to make them aware that there will be probably more downs than ups in their sport´s career, and what will make them successful, or not, is that ability to deal with those moments where you are close to give-up – a step back is often the opportunity to gain more experience. And, yeah, don´t celebrate your wins too much either, there is always a next race, and that´s always the most important one!
Living in Uppsala what is your favorite area there and what makes it stand out?
It is hard to not answer Lunsen, as it is a paradise for an orienteer, and typically the type of terrain you can use hundreds of times and still be challenged. But, my favourite runs are along the lake Ekoln, toward Morga fornborg. The view there is always lovely and peaceful.
Remember to book you training maps and come well prepared to O-Ringen Värmland 2017. You will find all available maps here.