August Athlete/Coach interview with Grant Bluett

Brodie Nankervis2023 Archive, Athlete Profiles, Coaching, High Performance

Last month Brodie interviewed Grant Bluett, one of Australia’s most successful orienteers on the world stage. Grant won gold at the World Games in 2001, the first ever senior individual medal by a non-European. His best results at the World Orienteering Championships include 8th in the sprint in 2003 and being part of the men’s relay team, which came 6th in 2001. Grant continues to give back to the sport by passing on his knowledge and experience to up and coming elites, and this year has been a coach/mentor of the OA High Performance squad.

Hi Grant, thanks for having a chat with me. Let’s start with a brief recap of your international endeavors for the younger readers, can you tell us a little bit about your experiences competing at the top level internationally? Which result are you most proud of (can make this the second question)

Hi Brodie, I competed internationally from my first JWOC in 1991, up until my last WOC in 2005. But I really started to put a lot into Orienteering from 1996, when I spent about half the year in Europe. I went all in then and started to get some good results – particularly in Sprint Orienteering which had just started up at that time.   

In 1997 I moved to Sweden and stayed over there until the end of 2004. My last 5 years over there I was a coach at one of the two National Orienteering Schools. We had about 20 live in students from the ages of 16 to 19 and we organized Orienteering training for them in school time four days a week.  

The results I am most proud of are some of my Park World Tour victories and my World Games win in 2001. The Park World Tour was a series of professional sprint races, with some pretty good prize money and 25 of the best orienteers from all over the world competing.

I never really had a great run at good run at WOC in the individual races – which eats me up a bit when I look back at it. But one of my favorite memories is when we came 6th in the relay at WOC in 2001, running with Tom Quayle, Rob Walter and Troy DeHaas. We were all really close friends, and it was awesome sharing that with them.

Awesome, some great experiences and some high quality results! And what lead to you being involved with the High Performance squad this year?

Not much lead to it… I haven’t been involved much with Orienteering over the last 15 years. My kids like going orienteering now, so I have been around a bit more. Tash asked me if I would be involved and I had no reason to say no. I enjoy keep in touch a bit.

Well it’s great to have you involved, that is for sure. What are three pieces of advice to aspiring elite runners wanting to not just compete, but perform at the international level?

  • Orienteering is a running sport, if you don’t focus on that you will never be truly competitive.
  • Improvement doesn’t happen overnight – you need to commit to long term development.
  • You need to train a lot. 2 x 7 x 52 x 10 is the formula a lot of people used to quote that I really like. Train twice a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, for ten years.

Great, thanks for that, I agree that long term commitment is a big part of performance. You spent some time in Europe this year, has international orienteering changed much since your days competing? If so, what are the biggest changes?

I had been back to Europe for 18 years and it’s surprising how many things are the same. Daniel Hubmann is still competing, a lot of the people I used to compete with are now coaches. And the best people in my age group are the same as they were 30 years ago.

The TV production and the quarantine rules around WOC races have changed a bit – but it is surprisingly similar.

Interesting! What do you see yourself doing next with orienteering? Do you want to get more involved with coaching or management or happy to continue what you are currently doing?

I feel like I should get involved, I should give back where I can, because Orienteering has really given me a lot of enjoyment and satisfaction in life. It will just depend a bit on how much my children are involved in Orienteering. If they continue to stay involved and enjoy Orienteering, I would really like to be more involved with the National Teams – and at the local level here in the ACT.

Great news, we hope to continue to see you around! Ok, lets get into the quickfire round. Best orienteering experience?

That is really hard! I think the big relays and the big sprint races in southern Europe and Asia have been my favorite. Tiomila and Jukola are my favorite races.

Favourite map or terrain in the world?

Favorite terrain is around Stockholm Sweden, or Turku in Finland.

Sprint or forest orienteering?

Too hard. In general I like sprint best, but there is nothing better than a forest race in great terrain. There are a lot of forest races that don’t inspire me much, but I can get pumped for most sprint races.

Favourite pre race food/beverage?

Bananas and black coffee.

Thanks Grant, if anyone wants to get in contact with you what is the best way to do it?

Email is the best way I suppose, I can be pretty slack there sometimes though. I am also on Strava.