The opening day of the 2018 edition of European Youth Orienteering Championships (EYOC) in Bulgaria saw a highly technical, challenging sprint in the old medieval capital, Veliko Tarnovo, confront Team GB's runners. However one athlete, in the form of young debutant, Megan Keith, rose superbly to the demands of the race and took GB's first ever female gold medal at EYOC, claiming the win by a huge margin of 34 seconds.
Photo above: Megan Keith on the podium - Sprint W16, European Youth Orienteering Championships 2018.
Having had, what she felt, was a shaky start on a tricky first leg, she managed to keep her composure and began to accelerate through the course to dominate proceedings from then onwards. Megan said afterwards: "I was a bit thrown off at the start, as there was so much detail on the map, and everyone went sprinting off in different directions. I was running a bit faster than I could navigate, which wasn't good, but having wobbled on the first control, I managed to catch my 1 minute girl and got everything back on track from there. The long run down from the castle was good, as I could run fast and also read my map for the last section. I looked at my watch and seen I'd only been six minutes to the spectator control, but I had no idea how long the last loop would take. In the last loop, there was some interesting route choices, and I was confused by the stairs, but it was all okay. At the end, I was happy, thirsty and a bit tired! Surprised by the result and I'm really looking forward to the next races."
Photos above: Matthew Gooch, Alistair Thomas on run through.
The rest of the team also had some very solid performances, with two other top 20 results claimed by Matthew Gooch (19th) and Alistair Thomas (18th=), and notably all the M16's finished inside the top 30 on their GB debuts (Peter Molloy in 25th and Flurry Grierson in 30th). Matthew was satisfied with his first run in a GB vest, stating that he "kept it technically tidy, particularly in the fortress area, running straight for much of it, and he managed to keep errors to an absolute minimum". Alistair commented that "I kept it simple and controlled, especially in that early part, and the technical preparation and map geeking really reaped dividends in this regards. I'm now looking forward to tomorrow's forest races!"
Although a few of the team were disappointed with their overall runs, they were already putting these behind them this afternoon, back at the team hotel, and were beginning to make their plans for a positive assault on the Long race tomorrow.
Full results can be found here.
Additional News from the European Youth Orienteering Championships 2018: