Interview with International Orienteering federation President Leho Haldna

On 25th of August the International Orienteering federation President Leho Haldna visited the Orienteering World Cup Round 3 Relay in Cēsis, Latvia. He shared his impressions not only on the World Cup’s terrain, but also the Estonian Orienteering federation’s experience on organizing the most important orienteering event of the year – the World Championships.

What are your first thoughts here on World Cup in Latvia?

I did not have much time to follow World Cup, because yesterday I was in MTBO Championships in Vilnius, Lithuania. So all I have seen are the middle distance results and today the whole relay. But my first thoughts are that it all looks nice. Personally I have been in this area in the past myself, so I know the forest well. There is camping down near the river, you can take the canoe there, so I know the place. The terrain is very nice here, but it is quite hilly unlike the terrain in Estonia.

Have you participated in the orienteering events here?

Yes. I represent the orienteering club in Võru, and we have had the team events with Finnish club and Cēsis “Meridians”  here. Every year we have competitions between these clubs and every third year it takes place in Cēsis. Meaning, that I have been here a few times more than 20 years ago. I remember that we have used this place as well in our competitions. It is nice terrain, it has been used a lot for orienteering.

This summer the World Orienteering Championships took place in Estonia. What are your main conclusions after the event?

From participants point of view it was a good event. And I’m very pleased with the TV broadcast. I think, it was the best we have so far if you take all the races together. It is small things that makes TV broadcast good, and those small things were working greatly. For example, split times. Camera is showing that somebody is punching. Timing has to stop immediately. Usually people don’t know how expensive that is in reality and how much people have to work to make it happen. It is not easy, but it all worked out well.

I think Estonian Orienteering federation happy, and I believe Latvian Orienteering federation will also be happy next year after the Championships. In Estonia not many people know about orientieering, but the TV broadcast made it more recognizable. I think in Latvia it will be the same.

It is very important to spread our sport. Because now in International Orienteering federation we have started a new strategic period, and one of the key issues is visibility. Meaning that our sport has to be visible in different levels. One is the Championships, but it is also imporant in the level of national orienteering federations and in the level of orienteering clubs. Because we know that it is a very big fight between different sport organisations – we have limited number of kids who will choose to pratice orienteering or basketball, or volleyball, or football. We have to make our sport attractive and visible. It is very important.

What are your suggestions for Latvian Orienteering federation the next year?

The biggest challenge for having a good event is the live TV. It is completely different level of challenges when you have live TV. The courses are not the problem, the maps usally are no problem too, but live TV is completely different ambition level. But of course, it is a very big cost. Time keeping, tracking, TV cables – they all have to work. And you only have one chance, so everything has to be working smoothly. Estonian Orienteering federation outsourced all of the resources, taking the best specialists in the world. And it all worked well, because all elements were tested out many times. TV teams had worked togehter before, they had a huge experience and knowledge how to do it. It is very hard to reach the quality at first time, so what I suggest is to pay the attention to the quality of live TV broadcast.

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