Anna Nilsson Simkovics visited Ireland for the Autumn of 2019 spending a semester at Maynooth University. During her stay, she took part in orienteering, hill-running and indoor track competitions (as well as her studies)!
Anna is a member of the Austrian orienteering team. She placed 39th in WOC long distance in 2019 and was 33rd in WOC sprint in 2015. Previously she was a bronze medallist at the World Games.
Here Anna tells us how she fitted right in to the Irish Orienteering community!
I had never been to Ireland before, I didn’t know any Irish orienteers, I didn’t know the Irish language, nor had I ever been orienteering in Ireland. During my three-month exchange for my Geography studies at Maynooth University all of this changed.
Looking back, I’m so happy that I decided to take the opportunity to go abroad and experience another orienteering paradise.
In love with the sport; I immediately looked up where to go orienteering, and my first race was a long distance in the Dublin Mountains organized by Three Rock Orienteering Club.
Although I struggled a bit with my navigation, getting my first impression of Ireland's landscape and being welcomed with tea and cookies in the finish made me happy. The friendly atmosphere is something I appreciate a lot about orienteering in Ireland.
At the World Cup in China in October I met Niall who made me get in contact with rest of the Irish national team runners. Exchange students often end up hanging out together and leave the country with no connection to it, something I didn’t want to happen to me. I opened my horizons, saw the opportunities and spent the weekdays with my colleagues from university and the weekends with Irish orienteers. Somehow, I also managed to study and to learn Irish!
At The Dublin Sprint Weekend, organized by UCD Orienteering Club, I got to know Anton, the ambitious coach and development officer of Irish orienteering. He invited me to the seniors’ physical camp and kick-off for the Sprint World Championships 2020 in Denmark. It was a tough camp and what I saw in the Irish athletes shows big potential. Fast runners, fun people and a team which I believe can reach higher than they think.
Back home in Vienna I am already looking forward to my next visit to Ireland.
Go raibh maith agat to all the friendly and helpful people and friends I met and made me feel so welcomed!
If you ever feel like coming to Austria for orienteering, I can highly recommend the Vienna Orienteering Challenge held in June each year.
Anna Nilsson Simkovics
Austrian National Team Athlete