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Thursday, 1 August 2013

Interview with Matt Ogden

Matt, good to see you, whats new?

Hej! I have realised the soul destroying nature of fourth year engineering but other than that everything is going good!

So your year as a reigning world champ has finished (though it will always be there in the record books), how do you think you have handled the attention that has come with this?

It was a sad moment watching the Junior World Champs this year (apart from seeing Nick and Tim smash it) and being relieved of the 'world-champion' status, replaced with the less exciting 'former' status. I think I handled the attention quite well. In fact I really enjoyed the attention and sharing my training and experiences. Training can be quite a personal and inward process so the only chance to really share and talk about it on a large scale is when you get it right, so in that respect it was satisfying. The attention was also a constant reminder of Thursday 12th July 2012. The resurfacing of all those emotions is a quite special feeling.

In retrospect, what strengths, circumstances or values led to your success at JWOC, what put you up there in that top 1% fighting for the win?

I think the question answers itself. In the two JWOC's before my last I learnt how to fight. It is one thing to be good at orienteering, but to be able to fight during a race is a skill you acquire through experience. Its an ability I think Lizzie is quite good at too. But this ability to fight derives from confidence; if you are confident in your physical, technical and mental abilities then you have the capacity to fight. So I think one circumstance that had which enabled me to fight for the medal was the fact that I had never really 'failed' at a JWOC. I made the A-final in the middle three years in a row and I never really had a really bad race so I could say I was quite confident going into the final individual race in 2012.

Matt punching during the World Cup at Parliament

What makes you different Matt, from the Juniors that have gone before? (and not just that you won)?

Someone had to get it right eventually. I am just fortunate that I am a recipient of a wealth of knowledge from the guys older than me. James Bradshaw, Ross Morrison, Michael Adams, Rob Garden, You (Jamie) just to name a few. But I think two key things have been hugely important in my development as an orienteer. The first is that I live 10 minutes from the largest map in NZ, Woodhill. This has meant I have been able to do a lot more technical training than most juniors before me (however this is now being surpassed by Nick who will unleash next year at JWOC). The second is a guy called Gene Beveridge. We have a tendency to kill ourselves in nearly every session and we both have a huge passion for technical training, ergo; a lot of very high quality training. 

Apart from waiting for the dedicated talent to emerge and perform, what can NZ orienteering do to ensure more success at a Junior level?

I think the most important factor in the development of juniors is the communication between the elite and junior levels. There is a lot of opportunities for juniors now days to improve their orienteering such as the junior camp, various training days (in Auckland at least) and a bucket load of competitions. With a more developed senior group I think it would be possible to develop a mentoring programme between elites and juniors, say assigning one elite runner to observe and contribute to the development of a group of juniors. We are trying to do this in my club, Northwest, and we are now seeing the results, Kayla, Alice, Cameron e.t.c

How have you found your first year at senior level? You had good results in the NZ world cup in January...

It has been quiet, no big European competitions because of engineering. The world cup was a fun event but I wished more of it was in the forest. The slump was a bit of a joke to be honest, never before has orienteering been more like a running race. The sprint was extremely technical and I was definitely not prepared. I did not find out about the massive spur/government house gates until I had sprinted to the control before the defining leg of the race. It was funny to see that I had the fastest split on the short leg before the long leg and then one of the slowest times for the long leg itself. My first year of senior is not over, I am extremely excited to race everyone after they have come back from Europe. There is going to be some epic battles in the competitions towards the end of the year (will anyone manage to take down the hahnbeatable?)

How are you managing to maintain your motivation? What areas of improvement have you been focusing on this year?

The trick is motivational triggers, finding little things to keep you going all the time. This blog has re-inspired me of late. Others have been joining a club in Sweden, learning to mountain bike and being smashed by Garden. But nothing beats the satisfying feeling of training well; the more training you do the more motivation you have to train. That it is why is important to focus a lot on conditioning and injury prevention so that you dont stop training. I have been focusing on my running this year and maintaining a stable training regime. The latter has been quite challenging because of university.

Matt, in winter training.

What are your plans from here? Last time I spoke to you, there were plans to head to Sweden?

Firstly my studies, but I will run the Aussie Middle and Relay Champs later this year. Then next year, probably March or just after Nationals, I will head to Sweden to start focusing on my training and becoming the best orienteer I can be.

Some people might think you are giving up a lot to pursue your orienteering, what would you say to them?

They can ask me some other time when I haven't just spent 12 hours at university. Orienteering is like a religion with merits. It challenges you, gives you a break from the rest of life, sets up some amazing international connections and is a pretty accurate metaphorical representation of life. In orienteering you focus on simplification, minimising mistakes or risk and always know where you are going - In life you focus on the bigger things (simplification), you always think about risk management and you should always have a plan on where you are going. 

You know that other single orienteers that have headed to Europe have never come back. I'm thinking Alistair Landels, Michal Glowacki, can you imagine that scenario?

This interview has been quite lengthy so ill make this brief. Ill always come back; In life you must always give back to what has given you so much.

Thanks Matt, there is plenty of wisdom in these answers for us all to mull over. You are a credit to your family, friends, club and sport. Train well.

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