No less than 88 WOC medals have been won by runners representing one of the clubs from Østfold. We will present all of them in the build-up to WOC 2019. Number 24 is Kajsa Nilsson.
Name: Kajsa Nilsson
Civil status/children: In partnership with Thor Nielsen-Moe, two bonus children
Clubs represented: FK Göingarna and Halden SK
WOC-medals: Sprint bronze 2006, relay silvers 2006 and 2009.
WOC participations: 2006 & 2009
Other merits: Relay gold and middle bronze at JWOC 2000. Won 10mila in 2009.
Boating at the archipelagos of Hvaler, here with her partner Thor Nielsen-Moe.
What do you do today?
I teach at a junior high school in Halden (Rødsberg).
Best WOC memory?
Without doubt the sprint in Århus in 2006. I was carried on by the cheering of 5000 people in all kinds of languages and sounds up towards the last control, an incredible feeling!
Worst WOC Memory?
Injuries have been framing my entire career, self-inflicted and deserved I should say as well. They’ve been my worst setbacks, but also my source of motivation. I’ve ran to WOC’s, both with great medal possibilities. At my first WOC I got to choose how many and which races I would run, at my second I only got one chance but had a great deal of saying in which race to choose. Since I reckon myself a team relay runner, the choice fell upon the relay. A choice that I’m happy with even to this day where we were 5 seconds from the gold medals. I felt that I could have done well in the sprint and deserved a chance since I was probably top two of the Swedes in the discipline. Instead the management went for a more experienced runner that no one else in the team had competed with for years. I hid in the forest during the race, as I felt the opportunity of a lifetime slipped.
What is WOC to you?
To me it’s the fight for the medals, and I still think so after I’ve retired. It’s a stage for the very best, for good and for bad… A lot of work has been put into the preparations, and all kinds of emotions are flowing. At WOC you encounter the highest emotional peaks and the lowest as well…
Funniest WOC banquet memory?
My best social moment wasn’t a banquet as such, but a game of football between the Swedish and the Swiss runners in Silkeborg during a pre-camp before WOC 2006. The Swedes often used football for restitution and recreation between training sessions, and this year the Swiss team stayed close to us. We often started playing with the ball together, but this time we settled upon a real match. Both teams were psyched for the match, and serious tactic meetings were held on both sides. We had warrior paintings in our faces and played the national anthems ahead of the match. I think we won 2-0 after goals from Annika Billstam and Anna Mårsell, with a clean sheet from goalie Emma Engstrand. Simone Niggli and Vroni Salmi played well for the opponent though. None of the Swedish girls I mentioned wanted to take part, but they were enthusiastic to say the least after the match. Billan’s (Annika Billstam) cheering after her goal will never be forgotten.
Can you tell us a bit about how your relationship with the sport has evolved since the beginning?
I quitted my elite career abrupt in 2010 when the body said stop, and no experts were able to say how long it would take to come back at the top of my game. Halden Skiklubb is still my first and biggest orienteering family, and I’ve been doing some coaching as well as attend at least one training every week. My partner Thor is not an orienteer, which also leads to that my life is not just orienteering anymore – as I also promised myself the day I lay off my elite running. But as many have said once an orienteer, always an orienteer.
What have you learned from your commitment to orienteering that you will bring on later in life?
As an individual athlete in a sport with barely any money involved you early learn how to prioritise and the amount of hard work you’ll have to put in. You need to be a good communicator towards both your self and your surroundings. I peeked after orienteering had become somewhat less important to how I felt about my life in general. Harmony and balance are essentials, both to become a good orienteer, teacher, cohabitant and neighbour.
How hard have you worked to become as good as possible, and which difficulties have you encountered?
I have to say that from my early teens and throughout my career I went all in to become the very best. Good wasn’t good enough, I wanted to be the best. In there lies my weakness as well. I simply pushed too hard at times and was unstoppable to the point where injuries got the upper hand of me. I don’t regret anything today, even thought some sensibility maybe could have brought me all the way to the top. My madness brought me really close, and when I look back today it is good enough for me.
Do you stay fit?
I don’t spend a lot of time staying in shape, but I enjoy the privilege of training whenever I want to. My body still flows from all the investments from my earlier training. The only session I never skip is the Friday football with my colleagues at work.
Have you found anything as meaningful after your career?
During my last season I started teaching, and it means the world to me. I would never have traded the WOC gold medal that I never won with what I do today. Even though nothing beats the feeling of standing at the WOC starting line and know that you are a potential winner.
What is your view on Østfold hosting WOC 2019?
Very cool and inspiring for the Nordic runners to have a WOC where they get use of everything they’ve learned ever since childhood. Athletes of all sports dream of world championships at home territory. I’m positive that the conditions will be fair, and that’s the most important aspect of a WOC.
Will you attend or contribute at WOC 2019?
Even though it’s the last week of the school holidays the teachers are back at work during the WOC week, and I will not miss that. But the days I’m not working I will contribute
What does it take to become a world champion in Østfold 2019?
Given that you’ve put in the right effort physically and technically during the last year remember that normal is enough. And enjoy the moment!
What do you recommend WOC visitors to experience in Østfold?
The sea and archipelagos! I’m with a boating man and today I’m more at Hvaler than in the forests.
What do you like best about Østfold?
That it’s close to the sea, Sweden, the mountains, the forest and big cities all at once!