There was controversy from the outset at the Relay day on Friday when athletes arriving in time for a 9.00 a.m. start to the competition had to wait for the best part of two hours before the competition to get under way, because the golf course owners had not allowed any placement of the flags before the day of the event.
Things got no better when first leg finishers reported several doubtful control sites and one decision point with the only two SI boxes when there were three flags at the control site.
Discontent continued as the officials and volunteers battled to complete the final TempO station within a reasonable timescale, but such were the number of complaints, followed by official protests by several countries, that the announcement of the final results and the prize giving were delayed until Saturday to enable the hard worked jury to inspect and decide upon the six official protests.
The Jury eventually voided three out of the 27 control sites, accepting some protests, rejecting others. They also confirmed the Organisers’ decision to disqualify the Open class teams from Latvia and Poland and the Para team from Russia for infringements of the rules!
Eventually, in the Paralympic class, Ukraine was declared the winners, followed by the Czech Republic and Norway.
In the open class, the Winners were Slovenia, followed by Norway in Silver and the Czech Republic took Bronze, a second and a half ahead of the Slovak team in 4th who was a second ahead of the Finns in 5th place.
The Norwegian team’s second leg runner, Sigurd Daehli, made orienteering history. Having won World Championship medals in SkiO and FootO in previous decades, he became the first orienteer to achieve a championship medal in three separate disciplines. There is no truth in the rumour that he is in training for next year’s MTBO!
It was also notable for the rise of the central European nations and this year the eclipse of Sweden who finished 10th.
As for the British team of Tom Dobra, Charles Bromley Gardner (who was affected by illness) & John Kewley, they endured a difficult day, before eventually finishing in 14th place.
The second PreO course, held on Saturday, in a mixture of woodland and rough open terrain near the kart track at Aukštadvaris was the final day of what has been an eventful week in Lithuania. Thankfully the sun shone, the course was excellent and testing, and after the adventures of the previous day’s relay, the controls appeared to be largely in the right place and there were no protests at the end of the competition.
The British team had a very satisfactory day overall. In the Open class, Charles Bromley Gardner, still unwell but recovering, held on well to finish in 10th place, one of six competitors with 43 points and the best GBR placing in the Open class since Ian Ditchfield’s podium place in Scotland in 2012. John Kewley with a score of 41 was placed 21st and Ian Ditchfield, on 40, was placed 29th.
In the Paralympic competition, Dick Keighley finished in 23rd place.
Tom Dobra, selected for the GBR TempO & relay teams, won the Public PreO competition over the championship course with a total score of 42 points.
Several of the leading competitors after Day 1 fell by the wayside in the tricky conditions, whilst others had already made too many errors to be able to figure in the top places at the end of the day.
At the end of the two days PreO, the gold medal went to Lars Jakob Waaler of Norway with 45 points, a score also achieved by Pinja Mäkinen who had taken a few seconds longer at the time controls. The Bronze medal went to Geir Myhr Øien, also of Norway with 44 points, a score also achieved by two former world champions Stig Gerdtman of Sweden, who was placed 4th, and Anne Straube, of Octavian Droobers, a British Orienteering member but here representing her native Germany in 5th position, her best placing for some time. To gain a podium place in this standard of competition is a tremendous performance.