Obstacle Course Racing may not enjoy a lot of publicity in Malta but the sport is growing more and more popular on our islands. On May 30, hundreds of athletes will take part in the The Grid Malta, including IDA MATHILDE STEENSGARD. The European Championship gold medallist was in Malta recently to form her own team for the event and spoke to Valhmor Camilleri….

Ida Mathilde Steensgard is one of the stars of Obstacle Racing in Europe. The 29-year-old has not only taken the sport by storm in her native Denmark when being crowned national champion but she went on to conquer the continent after winning gold in the European Championships.

Still, Steensgard is not letting her individual success come to her head and is keen to use the sport to attract the young generation to pursue a healthy lifestyle.

“Obstacle Course Racing has become very popular in the last 20 years,” Steensgaard told the Times of Malta.

“The sport is about mainly conquering several obstacles while you are running. So you not only need to have a good fitness level to run but you also have to be physically strong as during the race you might need to carry some obstacles and go through monkey bars and climb walls and pass through muddy or sandy passages.

“It’s certainly a very fun sport which can attract people who may have done a half marathon and provide them with a more fun challenge of overcoming obstacles throughout the distance.

“Obstacle racing is a sport that surely helps a lot from a social aspect as it’s perfect for team building as athletes can help each other to pass through the various challenges it presents.”

Video: Red Bull. Music: Bensounds.com

Steensgaard revealed that the social aspect of the sport has been crucial for her to take up the sport.

“I discovered the sport late in my life. When I was young I loved to climb trees and various apparel in children areas,” the Dane said.

“Actually, I was introduced to the sport through my mates in a running group. We started working together and everyone was helping and waiting each other throughout the course. As time passed it got more and more competitive and was becoming something more than social as I knew that I was good in this discipline.”

Asked what kind of training sessions the sport requires, Steensgaard said: “Obviously, the main part of it all still remains running but you don’t have to run a lot so many are capable of doing it. Added it to that you need to do some exercises to increase your body strength that will help you to climb over walls.

“But if one prefers to do more power training than running it’s ok as maybe he will not be so fast in running but when it comes to the technique he or she will be very strong in that.”

Steensgaard’s visit to Malta was quite a curious one as she was keen to form her own TeamIda for next May’s The Grid.

For this initiative there 40 Maltese participants who applied for team selection.

After watching all applicants, Steensgard selected eight athletes to form part of her team who will now participate in the The Grid Female Elite Wave.

“I was very excited for this initiative,” Steensgaard said.

“I was pleased that a big group of girls had come for the selection. We held some training sessions together and I must admit that I was impressed by the girls energy. They were very happy to meet me and most of all very supportive about the initiative.

“When it came to selection I didn’t pick just the fastest one or the one that were better in climbing but the attitude played a big part of it all and I have to say I’m pleased with the group that I have.”

The successful participants were Rebecca Falzon, Luana Vella, Anna Aloisio, Sandra Borg, Becky Naudi, Nina Terrin, Dzintra Grech and Brown Powell.

Steensgaard said that the selected athletes will now will be given a training programme to follow before they meet up again with their mentor a week before the race in May.

“Every selected participant has been given a training plan to follow. They were given different programmes according to their strengths and weaknesses and hopefully they can address them individually,” she said.

“Then we will meet again a week before the race and hopefully they have followed their programme so we can have a great race.”

Turning her sights on her career objectives, Steensgaard admits that her burning ambition remains that to become the most dominant athlete in the sport.

“I want to be the most dominant Danish athlete of all time,” she said. “I have already won a gold medal at the European Championships and now my goal is to win the World Championships.

“But most importantly of all I want to be kind of a front figure for the sport and inspire more women to this sport. The majority of athletes who practice this discipline are men but there are a lot of women who have great potential to take up this sport but are just afraid to do it.

“I’m driven by helping the sport remain on the right track and hopefully one day it can feature in the Olympics. I has already been suggested to be part of the Olympic family but I have my doubts that at 29 years of age I will ever manage to compete myself in such a huge event.

“But surely, I can see myself give that experience to young athletes.

“After I retire coaching is one of the options I would like to take. My mental strength has always been something I could rely on and I would love to be of a help from a psychological aspect to the younger generation as being mentally strong can help you gain valuable seconds that can decide who will win a race.”

Ida Mathilde Steensgaard poses with the TeamIda members.Ida Mathilde Steensgaard poses with the TeamIda members.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us