March Athlete Interview with Sam Woolford

Brodie Nankervis2022 Archive, Athlete Profiles, High Performance

Last month Brodie sat down with Sam Woolford, up and coming junior talent from NSW. Sam placed 4th in the 2021 NOL season, helping the NSW stingers to a 2nd place in the junior men competition. Sam has had a strong start to the 2022 season, with 8th and 5th in the individual races and a convincing win in the forest relay.

Hey Sam, first up tell us about your races at Melbourne Sprint Weekend, how did they go?

Great. Overall I am happy with how I orienteered. The first race I used as a warmup for the NOL, so I only took it at about 90%. I was a bit sloppy on the first afternoon, and made lots of little <20s mistakes, which added up to a less than ideal =8th placing. I had a better run on Sunday morning, although I was a bit annoyed to miss a gap in a wall just as I sighted the previous starter ahead of me, and I ended up trailing him by 10 seconds or so at the finish. I was quite happy with 5th though, and within 1 minute of the winner’s time. In the forest relay I actually started trailing the NSW B team by 1:43. I had a relatively clean first loop, with only a small mistake on the control immediately before the spectator. I caught the B team runner at the map flip control, then in trying to shake him off made a couple of little errors, but the terrain was mostly very fast and I got ahead on the split control. I still managed to make mistakes on 3 or 4 of the remaining controls, which was annoying, but held on to 1st into the finish. On Monday, in the Qualification race, I was in heat 2, which turned out to be the fastest heat, so when I finished my result actually looked better than it was, but it was still easily enough to second-seed me into quarterfinal 3. I knew that this was going to be my last race of the weekend, because the timing of flights home meant that I wasn’t going to be able to get to the afternoon’s semis and finals. Before the start, I made the unusual decision to not bother checking any control numbers, so as to minimise time spent unfolding my map. This paid off, and I was very happy to finish my weekend with a win in the quarterfinal, and also recording the second fastest time on course, only 5 seconds behind Aston Key.


Congratulations on a great weekend of racing, it would have been interested to see how you went in the semi finals of the knockout! So whereabouts are you at the moment? What are you doing outside of orienteering?

I am doing my year 12 at school, and I also play piano and compose music, with aspirations to become a professional pianist, so schoolwork and piano practice takes up a lot of my time.

Sounds very busy! But still managing to balance training well. How did you first get into orienteering? What has been the most important thing in helping you get to where you are now?

My first orienteering event was an ONSW promotional series around Coffs Harbour, and I went to all 6 score events with my mum. My parents had orienteered prior to living in Coffs Harbour, but stopped when they moved, and I was only 3 at the time and too young to remember. Following the ONSW series, my parents became some of the founding members of Bush n Beach orienteering club, and so I have that to thank for getting me into orienteering. Probably the most important thing that has got me to where I am now is my mum’s willingness to travel a lot for orienteering, as we don’t have a lot of events in Coffs Harbour.

Great to hear you have a supportive family, seems to have helped a lot to get you where you are now! Alright, lets move into some quickfire questions:

Which is your favourite terrain? Do you have a favourite map?

Tough question. I like terrain that is runnable, because I think that I am generally a better runner than navigator. For the interest factor, I would say that I most enjoyed orienteering on Crooked Straight and Wiela/Bunyip Reach in South Australia, although that may also be due to my having good races there. Overall though I will say that my favourite map is Belanglo state forest, in the NSW southern highlands.

Any international events that are on your wish list?

In the short term, JWOC, and I think it would be great to go to any international event, but specifically I think it would be super fun to go to one of the big relays like Jukola.

Go to breakfast before racing?

I don’t like to change up what I eat before a race, so I have my usual breakfast of a bowl of cereal and a couple of slices of toast.

Favourite training session.

Hill intervals, because I always feel sore afterwards. I like the feeling of sore muscles because it (possibly irrationally) makes me feel like I have achieved something with my training.

Metal spikes or rubber dobs?

I have never used spikes

Thanks Sam for your time chatting today, where can people go to follow your progress:

Strava: Sam Woolford