Trail Orienteering Athlete of the Year: Ján Furucz

Ján Furucz, current world champion in PreO and silver medallist in TempO, has been chosen as the TrailO Athlete of 2018 as a result of his remarkable performances during last season. Furucz grew up in an orienteering family; his two brothers and his sister practised orienteering too, and his father was their coach while his mother took care of them. Nowadays, both he and his brother are part of the Slovakian TrailO team, which helps them support each other and constantly pull harder to improve.

A change in training
Last season Ján changed his way of preparing for competitions by increasing his training, and the results have been quite visible. “My ways of training are basically many competitions, walking with a map and reading terrain features, setting courses for competitions or training sessions, and a lot of training my concentration. I also analyse courses and solutions on the Internet.” For TempO, which is his favourite discipline, he also has a special routine. “My very special training is counting letters. In TempO we need to answer a letter and the speed when answering is very important; within a few seconds we have to solve what takes minutes for others. Absolute concentration and speed!”

After the training and the preparation, the World TrailO Championships (WTOC) started in Latvia, where Ján won PreO and reached second position in TempO, just 4 seconds away from the winner. Although his secret dream was winning the gold, he expected about 10th place in the individual competitions, as he is well aware of the high level that exists among the other competitors. However Ján’s dreams came true. “Just five minutes after finishing the PreO, Ivo Tisljar from the Croatian team came and told me: “You are world champion!” I did not believe it at first, then I was crying for a while. It was an amazing feeling that I wish to everyone. My secret dream has become a reality; unbelievable.” For Ján, that instant became the best moment of 2018.

Key is full concentration
After these splendid results for Ján in the individual competitions, the Slovakian team was 16th when it comes to the Relay. In his words, “The loss of concentration after the individual success and the tiredness after five days of competition might be some of the reasons for the 16th place in Relay, which was the worst-ever result from our team.” Referring to this, he reveals the secret of how to reach the top level: “Although you need to take part in as many competitions in different parts of the world as you can, and focus on reading terrain and maps, the key is to be fully concentrated.”

Nevertheless, competing at such a high level is not easy and although he loves TrailO, which he defines as “the pure form of orienteering, without the running,” it is a problem to combine it with a family daily routine. “I only had one holiday day with my family in 2018,” he says. However, he recognises that his biggest support are his wife and his children, who enjoy his successes with him despite the difficulties.

A longer version will be published in Orienteering World.

Text by Laura Garrido and Sara Ricoy

Photo by WTOC