|Canadian junior/senior team members Emily Ross, Emily Kemp, and Carol Ross pose with Thierry Gueorgiou at the 2011 Portugal O meeting|
For the past 2 years, Emily Kemp has been training with the French elite orienteering program, Le Pole while attending university in St. Etienne. Orienteering Canada (OC) caught up with ten time World Orienteering Champion, Thierry Gueorgiou (TG), to get the Frenchman’s thoughts on Emily Kemp’s historic run for Canadian orienteering.
OC: Thierry, were you following the JWOC long race online?
TG: Of course, I heard about Emily's bronze as I was following the race live. This is simply sensational. I am also very proud of her and can easily imagine how great it is for all North America orienteer’s community. After the race, I quickly went on attackpoint to read the comments and it (reminded) me so much the wave of enthusiasm in French orienteering after my first gold medal at WOC in 2003. I really hope it is just the beginning of a long story and the promise of something even greater!
OC: What were your thoughts when you first heard about Emily's bronze medal?
TG: That was fantastic news, of course. I got a boost of positive emotions after her race. Many times this winter, I had thought what her level was and what kind of result she could get at JWOC. A top 6 would have been realistic with a great performance on the day. So, she surprised me once again and I sincerely hope it is just the beginning. She is the living proof that no hill is too high when you have an unstoppable will.
OC: How do you think she will do in the middle distance final on Thursday?
TG: Well, now, it is going to be even harder. Of course, she got the proof that she can perform extremely well and probably a shorter distance can suit her better with her knee problem of the last 2 weeks. But, the difficulty is to start all over again from a blank sheet (of) paper. In the last hours, she got a boost of emotions through her whole body; everybody has been so enthusiastic around her. This is, of course, very normal in such situation. Naturally, you lose some hunger. Now, she has to calm down, forget what has happened, and keep working. That (is) the most difficult situation in orienteering, to put everything behind and keep performing races after races in a (J)WOC week. This is what we call consistency and it requires a lot of experience. She will be able to celebrate those results the whole summer if she wants but right now the most important thing is to keep the focus on what’s ahead. But I tell it again, her long result had nothing to do with luck. So, she has the potential to stand on the top again at the middle distance, but it will be all in the mind and attitude
OC: When you were visiting us in Canada you asked about good young Canadian orienteers that might be interested in training in France and that of course led to Emily joining the French National Team training group. How much has she developed with your group in the two years and did you expect Emily to do so well?
TG: Yes, when I visited North America in 2009, I got impressed by this little girl who was completing the men’s elite course with a nice style. It is easy to say that her first steps in France were an adventure. But with her enthusiasm and passion for life she jumped over every giant hurdle. She is so much appreciated by everyone here and probably the best advertisement in France for Canada! In a wider perspective, I would say she had already a talent and knowledge when she arrived in France but she needed to be more professional in her approach of orienteering. She still has a lot to learn, but she has already got quite many pieces of the winning puzzle!
OC: Do you have advice for other young Canadian orienteers?
TG: As I said, Emily is the living proof that attitude and will are more important than anything else. Nothing can stop a person with the right mental attitude from achieving their goal; nothing on earth can help a person with the wrong mental attitude. Of course, the challenge is big when you live in North America, because of small economical support for orienteering (despite some sensational terrains), but if you manage to break all those brick walls on your way, you’ll be even stronger and be a hard break for your competitors! One of my goals when I was younger was that no Scandinavian runners would ever laugh when he will see “France” in a start list. And I sincerely hope that in some years, a Canadian in a podium in an international race will not surprise anyone anymore!