Name: Olli Ojanaho

Date of birth: 25 February 1997

Lives in: Helsinki, Finland

Club: Helsingin Suunnistajat

Best results: 3 x gold + 2 x bronze at JWOC, 6 x gold + 2 x silver + 1 x bronze at EYOC

Photo by Roland Güdel

Photo by Roland Güdel

Olli Ojanaho is already the most successful junior orienteer in Finland of all the time with three JWOC gold medals and six gold medals from EYOC. This summer he has a last chance to fight for the JWOC medals. He hopes he can run fast and have stable races in the tricky and interesting terrains of Tampere. He has spent half of his winter training in different kind of terrains abroad. At the end of March, the boy from northern Finland has moved to Helsinki and he is excited about his new training possibilities and will orienteer more than ever in the spring and during the summer.


How have your winter and early spring been?

 In early winter I had some weeks without any training because of two wisdom teeth operations and one illness but after that it has been ok. I spent my Christmas holiday in Alicante with my family and then was in Gran Canaria with the junior national team, in late January / early February, there I unfortunately missed the second week of the camp due to an annoying food poisoning. Then I was also some 2,5 weeks in Portugal a few weeks ago where I got to train in new terrains for me and some 3-4 different terrain types. All in all the preparations have been medium.

Olli Ojanaho has lived all his life in Rovaniemi, in Lapland but now he has moved south to Helsinki. How have living in northern Finland affected your orienteering career?

The orienteering season in northern Finland isn’t too long and there are not so many competitions. Usually we have snow from November to May. So when I was a kid I started my orienteering season in May and the season was over in September. I played ice hockey and did ski orienteering and cross-country skiing during the long winter. In the past few years, I have started travelling to competitions and training camps in southern Finland and other countries. It has meant a lot of travelling because although it’s just a short flight of one hour to Helsinki, it’s nearly always impossible to get a Rovaniemi-Helsinki flight just before a flight to some training camp or competition or a Helsinki-Rovaniemi flight just after a training camp respectively. So I have often needed to sleep one extra night in the Helsinki area, but thanks to my cousins and the Raitanen family it has never been a problem!

What plans do you have for the spring and summer?

I guess I will stay in Finland until JWOC, apart from 10mila. Moving from home and living in a bigger city is a new situation for me. I’m excited but also aware of the fact that there will be more things I must take care of. When it comes to trainings, I will surely be able to do more orienteering than ever.

Can you tell something about your trainings?

The most important sessions for me during the spring season are definitely all the races and faster sessions with map. These are also my favourite trainings. I’m excited about my new training surroundings in Helsinki.

Can you give two example weeks of your trainings?

Date ../../2016 Morning Afternoon Evening Date ../../2017 Morning Afternoon Evening
12/09 Rollerskiing 80min 23/01 Rest day
13/09 Rollerskiing 90min 24/01 Rest day Travel to Helsinki
14/09 Mobility and core strength exercises 55min tempo in terrain 25/01 Travel to Gran Canaria Easy run 53min
15/09 Rollerskiing 65min Cycling 60min Travel to Oulu 26/01 Easy orienteering 30min + some running Core strength + some running
16/09 Easy run 30min Travel to Vaasa Easy run 30min on sprint map 27/01 8 x 1k tempo Easy orienteering 45min + some running
17/09 Finnish Champs sprint, qualification Finnish Champs sprint, final 28/01 Cycling 110min Easy / moderate running 95min
18/09 Finnish Champs relay Travel to Oulu Travel to Rovaniemi 29/01 O-intervals tempo 45min total time Sprint orienteering 15min + running 10min tempo


You are already a three time JWOC champion. What was your key for success in JWOC 2015?

Maybe I did slightly better races technically than the other guys, although I missed quite a lot in both middle and long distance. But the terrains were challenging for us juniors and that time perfect races weren’t needed.

What are you expecting for JWOC 2017? What goals do you have for this summer?

I expect that it will be the biggest JWOC maybe ever! I get goosebumps when I think how many spectators it can be here in Finland as well as how tricky and interesting terrains & courses are waiting for the competitors. I hope I can run fast and do stable races at JWOC, but the whole season is important for me – I want to run well in every race and improve both my technique and physical capacity.

Do you feel confident in the terrains of Tampere? How much have you been training in Tampere?

I haven’t run many races in the Tampere region, probably less than 5 during my life plus some sprint races. Last autumn I did some ten sessions in relevant terrains for JWOC. I think that the terrains are a bit different compared to those in southern Finland – the surface is often pretty rough in Tampere. Last autumn I felt quite confident in the training terrains but I also found some things I can do a lot better.

What do you think, which are the most important qualities you need if you want success in Tampere JWOC?

Good running speed and technical skills will both be needed. The mental side is also important in order to get the best out of your capacity.

Do you focus more on some special distance or are all the races equally important?

I will train many more sessions in forest compared to sprint during the spring and summer as my future goal is in the forest disciplines. But I also enjoy the sprint as a part of the JWOC week and will definitely do my best each day.

In Tampere, the Fin5 Orienteering Week will also be organized during the JWOC week. Why should orienteers come to Fin5 this year?

Fin5 is a good way to enjoy Teisko and Pispala without missing the chance to follow the JWOC races. Cheer for the junior runners from all over the world, feel the unique JWOC atmosphere and test your skills in the same terrains!

Thank you Olli for the interview and good luck to the summer!