MTB Orienteering Athlete of the Year: Martina Tichovska

The Czech athlete Martina Tichovska has been the clear queen of MTBO in 2018. She won five medals at the World MTBO Championships, one in each race: two gold medals in Long Distance and the Relay plus three silver medals, from Middle Distance, Mass Start and Sprint. But, how has she reached the top level in MTBO? We have been talking with her to discover what she has done to become the best MTBO athlete of the year.

More nervous than in the past
Going back some months, we start talking about last August, the month she became world champion in Austria. “I had some clear goals before the World Championships, I was aiming for a medal, but I really did not expect a medal in each race,” she says about her thoughts during the summer. However, she recognises having been more anxious than ever. “I was more nervous before the competition than in previous years. After some successes in recent years I knew I was one of the favourites in the races,” she adds.

But the Czech did not disappoint the public, winning five medals in all. Winning the gold medal in Long Distance was the best memory from 2018, she says; Tichovska was just five seconds faster than the silver medalist, Antonia Haga from Finland. The other gold medal was with the Czech team in the Relay, which was the best result ever for her country in a women’s relay. “We were really close to the medal in past years, but it seemed impossible to succeed in a really strong field,” she adds about their victory.

Essential to have experience
Not many people know that Martina started with FootO with her family, and she even competed in JWOC in 2004. However she became bored with FootO and decided to try MTBO, thanks to her boy friend. Now after several years she is at the top in MTBO. Talking about how to reach such a good level, she says: “You must not give up after early failures. O-sports are about experience and you have to grow up. Some can do this really fast and others need more time.”

But training is also an essential part of being successful, so she prepares very thoroughly for every championship with her coach Barbora Chudíková, a medallist in the SkiO World Championships. She talks about her daily training. “It consists of 4 or 5 minutes of intensive fast sections (a cross-country circuit, or hills on a road bike) with 5 times repetition. It works for me really well, and I often come back satisfied with my training. It is important to relax before the competition as well. If I feel tired during the training, and I am not able to do my session at the right intensity and speed, than I prefer to go home. Feelings are really important in my training.”

A longer version will be published in Orienteering World.

Text by Laura Garrido and Sara Ricoy

Photo by Rainer Burmann