GA review – Meet the new IOF Council members

At the IOF General Assembly on July 10th, the IOF members elected Council members for the period 2020 – 2024. In addition to President Leho Haldna, Vice President Astrid Waaler Kaas and members Vincent Frey and László Zentai, who were re-elected for an additional 4-year period, 2 new members of Council were elected. We asked Linda Take, new member from Sweden and Jürg Hellmüller, the new member from Switzerland, a few questions about themselves and their expectations.

First some background

Linda Take, residing in the hometown of the IOF Office, Karlstad Sweden, has a degree in Engineering and an MBA. In her professional life she has worked as the CEO of several industrial companies, currently for Mericon, a company in the field of electrical distribution and protection. She is also professionally active in providing organisation and management consulting services. Linda is a board member of the Swedish Orienteering Federation and is also currently Chairperson of the O-Ringen AB Board, the company which delivers the O-Ringen event every year. Linda has also been engaged voluntarily at local and regional levels in sports, not only orienteering but also in local athletics and football clubs. She was selected to represent Sweden at a number of international orienteering events during the 1990’s – 2000’s.

Jürg Hellmüller lives in the Appenzell Ausserrhoden canton of Switzerland. He has a degree in Sports and Physical Education with a Masters degree in Sports Finance and Management, and has previously worked as a teacher and then as the CEO of a number of Sports Centres. He currently works as Headmaster at a primary school while in parallel also running his own company in sports events and outdoor sports.  Jürg has been active in Swiss Orienteering first for 8 years as Head of Education and for the past 6 years as President, a position he retired from earlier this year.

Now to the questions

When did you start orienteering?

Linda: I was born into this sport so I was probably only 7-8 years old when I started competing

Jürg: 1976, at the age of 16. With three months experience, I started at O-Ringen in Ransäter in summer 1976 with many mistakes and long search operations… (but I’m still active!)

Which orienteering disciplines have you tried or been active in?

Linda: I have mainly run FootO but until I was 20 years old I also competed in SkiO. I have tested the other disciplines but so far not competed in them.

Jürg: I am still active in FootO (since 1976), SkiO (since 2000) and MTBO (since 2014) but have never tried TrailO.

What is your personal favourite among our formats?

Linda: I especially liked the long distance and relays when I was an elite runner. Now I love the sprint distance, fast and difficult. It’s fun.

Jürg: As an active runner I like all formats and especially the long distance in mountain areas. As a spectator, I prefer sprint and knock-out sprint.

You have both been active at board level in national orienteering federations and have probably gained some insight into the IOF that way. What has been your experience and impression of the IOF prior to joining the Council?

Linda: As an active athlete in Sweden the domestic organisations are more visible. Since I became member of the board of the national federation, I have started to learn a bit more about IOF. But up until today I have limited insight.

Jürg: I started my activity at board level in Switzerland in 2005 and in my function as Head of Education my contact to the IOF was non-existent. During the period that Marcel Schiess was President of Swiss Orienteering and at the same time was a Vice President of the IOF, I started to realise what IOF is and how the organisation works. My vision then was primarily on the national and not on the international level. In my function as President of Swiss Orienteering I began in 2014 to realise that the IOF is changing, then led by Brian Porteous, and becoming a modern sports organisation supporting the national federations. For the last few years, I have seen the IOF as a very strong partner to national federations.

What are your expectations going into the work on the IOF Council and what do you hope to contribute with personally?

Linda: I’m really looking forward to joining the Council. I expect that we have a broad competence among the Council members and focus on issues that are at the right level. I believe and hope that I can contribute with my energy, in addition to the skills I have with me from my CV.

Jürg: To learn more about international orienteering in all disciplines, I’m sure I haven’t seen all the different facets of our sport. I would like to work for the increasing visibility of our sport and to support especially the development of SkiO and MTBO.

What do you especially feel is important among the work of the IOF?

Linda: This is a difficult question, there are many areas that are important. One of the first things that comes to mind is to work with the visibility of our sport, both in the broader perspective and for the elite. And how do we work with our brand “Orienteering”.

Jürg: To be and remain a strong partner to national federations. To continuously develop and be ready for the future. To take the lead and clarify guidelines, like recently during the COVID-19 period. To be in good contact with other international sport organisations. To be about three years ahead in the planning of international events to give the necessary support for national federation planning.

If you had one thing that you would like to see happen in the next 4 years in international orienteering, what would it be?

Linda: I would like to see one of the disciplines become an Olympic sport. In any case, I would like to see our sport have a higher status so that more of our most talented athletes can have the sport as a full-time job.

Jürg: No doping and no cheating, of course that’s a wish and will not be under the complete control of the IOF. So, another answer that I hope for: More countries participating in all disciplines.

And finally, what has been your most interesting experience in orienteering?

Linda: As an athlete, I got to start first at the World Games in Germany 2005. It was incredibly cool to run into an international arena with a huge audience, as with other sports. A much more recent, but very unique experience, is all the efforts we have made in O-Ringen AB due to the situation created by the (Covid-19) pandemic.

Jürg: Swiss O Week 2006 in Zermatt, stage 3 “Trockener Steg”. Orienteering at 3’000 m above sea level and in touch with the glacier in sunny weather. An absolute fantastic run.