The final events of JWOC 2016 were the relays that took place yesterday in Tarasp writes Harrison McCartney.
The competition took place over the river valley from the central town of Scuol. Following the previous day that provided good performances to build on along with disappointing results to be rectified, everyone was in good spirits and ready to take on the relay in arguably the most suitable terrain of the entire competition for our British runners- highly runnable and visible forest with very clear contour detail throughout.
Having seen Megan Carter Davies match the record for the best GB position in a JWOC middle and break the record for the best female GB position in a JWOC sprint and catching glimpses of serious speed from Fiona Bunn in the initial stages of the long and in the middle qualification event, it was evident that we had two of the strongest first leg runners on paper heading out in British colours. They didn’t disappoint, Fiona Bunn using her speed to keep with the best, without faltering technically, saying “it was the best race to finish the week on and I really enjoyed it”. Whilst initially Megan and Fiona were leading the front pack together (coming in the 1st and 2nd respectively at the radio control 15 minutes in, Megan dropped into 8th due to “a stitch near the end of the race”, although on a leg filled out with many of the nations’ fastest athletes this is still a highly commendable performance and ensured that both girls teams were still in the mix for a podium place.
Megan handed over the Sarah Jones who put in a solid performance (10th best on her leg) to give Julie Emmerson the job of moving the team onto the podium from 7th position. The pressure clearly didn’t faze her, and the team spectating the GPS trail steadily completing the final loop were certain that the job was done. Once again, the girls set another record, beating the previous relay best of 7th (in 2009).
Jenny Rickett's smooth 2nd leg run put the ‘second’ team in podium contention, though the team dropped back to (a highly respectable) 16th place (and 5th overall 2nd team) with Alice Rigby on last leg. However, seeing that all of these girls could be back to run next year, I think we can safely say that some more record breaking performances are yet to come for the girls.
The second team boys reciprocated the girls’ performance, finishing 16th place overall after gradually climbing up the results table during the course of the race. Whilst Will Rigg was disappointed with a 3 minute mistake along the intricate re-entrants of the slope section (4-7) on first leg, the performance on the whole ensured that no British team finished outside the top 20. The strength of depth in both teams in the boys and girls ensured that the team finished 5th in the team relay standings (which contribute to the overall team standings). Having come 10th last year, the first team boys had a lot to live up to and delivered. There was brief elation, followed by nervousness, as the commentator announced Daniel Stansfield taking a clear lead early on, before mentioning that he was making a mistake, which pushed him back just outside the top 10. Dan described afterwards the slight confusion when he began to stride 50m into the lead after control 3- but this was a good omen as to what could be achieved next year by him. Dane put in a good performance, gaining 2 places before handing over to Sasha, who similarly pushed on to catch the boys in front of him, before overtaking them into the top 10 position.
Jackie Newton, Performance Manager, reflected on the Championships, saying: “The week has provided us with a mix of highs and lows, celebrations and commiserations, but there is an overriding sense of pride in our athletes who have worked incredibly hard and finished the week off with a superb all-round performance in the relays, putting us as 5th overall in that particular race.
JWOC is one of two main targets of our year - WOC being the other - and we are working long term towards achieving more podiums and top twenty places at both of these competitions, in line with our performance vision. We have come up slightly short of our Sport England target this year, purely on an individual basis, but are proud to have achieved three podiums in the last three years and also in the overall performance of the junior squad, at both JWOC and EYOC. The team's performance at the latter, in particular, was particularly impressive, as we secured our best ever results at this level, with 10 top twenties and 2 podia in the sprint, and this bodes well for the future.
A number of athletes have stepped up this year at JWOC and deserve a special mention. Megan Carter-Davies has achieved great results against all the odds, having broken her leg at the start of the year, and Fiona Bunn has announced herself on the international stage, with two fantastic runs in the week, and she still has three years left at this level! Sasha Chepelin has also put down solid performances to build upon, as he moves into his last year as a junior. Generally, this year's JWOC has seen a good all-round performance from the team and has been a positive learning experience for everyone involved."
Results from the relay can be found here.
The athletes would like to thank all of their supporters:
Family and friends
Clubs and regions
Manchester Metropolitan University - Sport Science support
SportsAid, Winning Students, TASS, Elite Sports Performance Scheme (Sheffield), Team Durham
Big thanks also for the hard work put in by the staff of the Talent Programme - Paul Murgatroyd (Head Coach for Talent), Jackie Newton (Performance Manager), Mark Nixon (Technical Lead), Heather Thomson (Phyisiotherapist).
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