Everything is ready for the awaited start of the World Masters Orienteering Championships (WMCO), the over 35 orienteering World Championships presented this morning in the Sala Di Jeso of the Palazzo of the Presididenza of the Puglia Region in Bari, where from 8 to 16 July will compete in the evocative landscapes of the Gargano.
The event, organized by the International Orienteering Federation, FISO – Italian Federation of Sport Orientation and WMOC Organizing Committee in collaboration with Sport and Health, Puglia Region, Puglia promozione and ASSET Puglia Region, was able to count on a strong synergy at both national and territorial level thanks to the important patronage of the Ministry of Tourism and the Province of Foggia, as well as the teamwork of 14 Municipalities (Vieste, Peschici, Vico del Gargano, Monte Sant’Angelo, San Marco in Lamis, San Giovanni Rotondo, Carpino, Apricena, Rodi Garganico, Cagnano Varano, San Nicandro Garganico, Mattinata, Lesina, Ischitella).
The WMOCs will involve over 3 thousand athletes from 40 countries with an expected daily presence in the Gargano of 5 thousand people, also considering their families and friends, this means a raw total of 50 thousand presences in the ten days of stay. Considering an average investment per person of 100 euros, the organizers expect a local induced activity of 5 million euros, in addition to the enormous value linked to the promotion of the territory to users in central and northern Europe, as 50% of the orienteers coming from the Scandinavian countries.
“Puglia is a region that invests heavily in sport – said the president of the Puglia region, Michele Emiliano – on the sidelines. It is therefore with a particular emotion that we are about to welcome and host the World Masters Orienteering Championships 2022. The Gargano, between land and sea, will be the backdrop to the world competition that will involve over three thousand athletes from all over the world. It will be a real Sports Festival. We will continue to support and encourage these sporting events which represent an important opportunity to make the beauty of our territory known to a large public. I wish the sporting competitions maximum success and I send the warm greetings and welcome of the Apulian to all the participants “.
It is a real honor to share my linguistic and intercultural abilities with my homeland, Gargano. This event will finally highlight the richness of the Gargano area, its biodiversity, and its cultural identity. WMOC will also be a boost for the local economy and tourism. Isabella Damiani, Responsabile Relazioni Internazionali WMOC
“Creativity, cooperation, biodiversity: orienteering is proposed as a sport discipline and practice fully within the ‘spirit of the time’ we are experiencing – commented the vice president of the Puglia Region and councilor for Sport per tutti, Raffaele Piemontese -. “The Puglia Region welcomes the WMOC 2022 – Gargano caravan, with the hope that the athletes, technicians, managers, carers, and their families will have the experience to be kept among the most cherished treasures. The Puglia Region and, in particular, the Administration, Finance and Control Section in Health and Sport, thinking of the great value of a sporting event that will live in one of the most evocative contexts on both naturalistic and cultural levels, has committed resources, about 250 thousand euro, and services so that the positivity we all need is unleashed, after two dark years and while in Europe the fear of war has even returned: with the participation of women and men from countries close to the conflict and where orienteering is very popular, we hope that a message for the peaceful and prosperous coexistence of all European peoples will spread from Puglia and the Gargano ”.
“Puglia still protagonist with sporting events – underlined the Tourism Councilor of the Puglia Region, Gianfranco Lopane -. After the Italian road cycling championship, we are preparing to welcome a worldwide event in the wonderful locations and protected areas of the Gargano. Corsican Orienteering is often part of training practice in our schools and is an outdoor sport appreciated by all because it stimulates a spirit of adaptation and creativity. About 50 thousand presences are expected during the days of the competition with repercussions imported on the territories in economic terms. In the wake of an increasingly varied and sustainable tourist offer, for the Puglia Region, this is an opportunity to give visibility to unique tourist destinations in our region such as the UNESCO heritage sites of Monte Sant’Angelo and the Umbra Forest and to the entire Gargano “.
“When more than a year ago they came to talk to us about orienteering – said the regional manager of the Administration, Finance and Control Section in Health and Sport of the Puglia Region, Benedetto Giovanni Pacifico – none of us knew this discipline. One year later, we realized that, in light of all the efforts made by the organizing committee, the WMOCs represent what we consider the true, great sporting event. We are happy to have contributed to its realization because these World Championships will have a great return on the territory ”.
“Sports tourism is a vocation of Puglia on which we are working through events of international importance. The Orienteering World Championships on the Gargano for us – said the general manager of Pugliapromo, Luca Scandale – represents a further opportunity to make known the authentic wonder of 14 Municipalities of the Gargano which, through a fruitful network work, will be involved in the path which will involve over 3000 athletes from 40 countries. In the green heart of Puglia, athletes will experience a sporting emotion in the name of sustainability, and with their videos, their photos, and their stories they will become the new ‘ambassadors’ of Puglia “.
“Our territory is proud to host the World Masters Orienteering Championship 2022 – stated the President of the Province of Foggia, Nicola Gatta -. For the Capitanata, this is an award that contributes to celebrating and honoring the environmental and landscape excellence of a province which, due to its wonderful characteristics, seems to be made especially for orienteering. As the Province of Foggia, therefore, we could only support with conviction a sporting initiative of extraordinary importance and prestigious international scope. An event that will allow us to enhance our immense wealth to an even greater extent, placing them in an extraordinary showcase “.
“The choice to host the Orienteering World Championships – said the Mayor of Vieste, Giuseppe Nobiletti – has a strategic value in conveying the image of Vieste and its territory in the circuit of highly attractive landscape holiday resorts. Considering its sporting-environmental value, a great event such as WMOC 2022 represents the ideal event to relaunch and modernize our tourist offer on the basis of a landscape rich in natural attractions that can also be oriented towards other types of tourist flows. We also appreciate the support that the Puglia Region has ensured for the event, together with ours and that of the other Gargano municipalities. In difficult days like the current ones, WMOC 2022 is an event that will also sound like a message of peace, harmony, and concord that starts from sport and spreads throughout society ”.
THE RACE PROGRAM
Once again Puglia will welcome great sport with the municipalities of Vieste, Peschici, Monte Sant’Angelo, and Vico del Gargano, the project leader, chosen as the location of the Sprint races scheduled for 10 and 11 July. The evocative and asymmetrical architectural structure of the historic centers as well as the intricate networks of streets and alleys will constitute natural maps for challenging orienteers. The Middle (13-14 July) and Long (16 July) distances, on the other hand, will take place in the Falascone Reserve and Laghetto d’Umbra in the beautiful Umbra Forest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The green lung of the Gargano National Park, guardian of a thousand-year history at about 800 meters above sea level, has a unique identity of its kind on a technical level given by the presence of beech trees on karst terrain with sinkholes and depressions. A territory that contains all the typical features that lovers of the ‘sport of the woods’ are looking for. All the details on www.wmocitaly.eu
THE STRONGEST ORIENTEERERS OVER 35 IN THE WORLD
Sweden, Finland, Norway, the Czech Republic, and Switzerland are the nations with the highest number of holdings. The event will see the involvement in the role of tracker of the Finnish Janne Salmi, 1997 Sprint World Champion, with a world gold in the relay and three world silver in the Palmares. Among the participating orienteers, a representation full of illustrious names from Switzerland, starting with Daniel Hubmann, with his 8 career world golds accompanied by 11 silvers and 9 bronzes, as well as 5 European golds. Paolo Beltraminelli will not go unnoticed, under the ASCO Lugano but political in life, competing in the M60 category which boasts about 200 members. Among the Swiss to stand out, there will also be Vroni Koenig-Salmi, with an experience of 13 World Cups with the Swiss national team. She was first world champion and then European in the Sprint distance, winning another 2 gold medals in the relay at the World Championships. Sarah Rollins is also a favorite thanks to her 12 participations as a protagonist at the World Championships with the shirt of Great Britain.
“Orienteering is not just a race – said the president and CEO of Sport and Health, Vito Cozzoli, – but it is a sport suitable for all ages that can also be practiced every day to train, and have fun in open air. It is also a discipline that allows for the development of tourist interest for a welcome that lasts all year “.
“FISO is pleased to see the WMOC 2022 assigned to Puglia – declared the president of the Italian Sports Orientation Federation, Sergio Anesi – Our discipline, which has always been attentive to respect for the environment, will bring a peaceful invasion of competitors interested in the discovery of the territory and its excellences. I believe that the typical Apulian hospitality, the sun, and the wonderful locations will make the experience unforgettable. Scandinavians, Swiss and also all the other nations present will know how to become ambassadors of your values in the world. I especially thank those who have lent themselves to the success of the event: institutions, technicians, volunteers, and, of course, the participants. Happy world to all! ”
“I want to underline – commented the president of the WMOC Committee, Michele Barbone – the goal achieved that we set ourselves, from the very beginning, by identifying the Gargano and in particular the Umbra Forest as the seat of a FISO Federal Center for development and the promotion of the sport of orientation in the Center-South of Italy and in the countries bordering the Mediterranean Basin. In this direction, the involvement of technicians and sports managers, as well as teachers and students of institutes and schools in the municipalities of the Gargano and the University of Motor Sciences of Foggia in special training courses was and will be even more important in the future “.
“The participation of over 3 thousand athletes – added the general director of the WMOC Committee, Gabriele Viale – will result in the daily presence in the Gargano of 5 thousand people, including their accompanying persons, equal to a total of 50 thousand in the ten days of average stay. If we consider an average investment per person of 100 euros, the local induced will be equal to 5 million euros. The WMOCs will be activators for the future of seasonally adjusted tourism because athletes will become ambassadors around the world, in addition to promoting the area to users in central and northern Europe, 50% of orienteers coming from Scandinavian countries. In the province of Foggia, there will also remain a mapping plant area for orienteering at an international level and with zero impact, eco-compatible, and respectful of the environment. Thanks, full of gratitude to all the working group, over 250 people involved, who are organizing this World Cup and with whom we managed to make the Organizing Committee work in a network with all the institutions, municipal administrations, and other partner bodies of the project. “.
A DREAM BORN 16 YEARS AGO
In 2001 the exploration of the woods of southern Italy, from Sicily to Puglia, was carried out by Gabriele Viale together with the Scandinavian orienteers Jorgen Martensson and Bernt Bjonsgaard, brought to light one of the most technical undergrowth in the world for orienteering, that of the magical forest Umbra. Its development path from an oriental point of view at an international level started sixteen years ago with a series of events: the 2004 Italian Cup, the 2005 MTBO Italian Championships, the 2008 Regions Trophy, the 2010 MOC, and many other competitions in the historic centers of Vico del Gargano, Peschici, Monte Sant’Angelo, Ischitella, Rodi Garganico. In 2008, the world candidacy project was launched with Gargano Park as a leader, repeated three times until the assignment in 2019.
The highlight was the official handover of the flag of the International Orienteering Federation by the Hungarian authorities to the Italian Committee in August 2021 during the World Masters Championships in Csákvár in Hungary. Many obstacles along the way, including the pandemic and recent problems in Eastern Europe. The desire to show this landscape pearl of Italy that is the Gargano and the belief in offering an opportunity to young people have pushed the Committee to continue pushing the heart beyond all obstacles.