The Junior World Orienteering Championships finished on a massive high for the British team as both Men’s and Women’s first teams took their place on the podium in Denmark.
The men’s relay started first at 10 am up the hill to what would prove a tricky and highly gaffled course. Freddie Caracas and Finlay Todd lead the men’s team out respectively, with some dodgy radio controls there were some nerves in the arena early but both Freddie and Finlay came back with the leading pack, 6th and 11th respectively.
Freddie handed over to Eddie Narbett who continued his strong week to finish the second leg as 6th nation in 7th overall on the tail of Norway 2 and Finland 1. Peter Molloy made a small mistake dropping the second team to 24th at the handover.
By this point, everyone’s eyes were following the GPS of Alastair Thomas who was ahead of the Finnish athlete in 6th at the spectator control with about 7 minutes to go. The commentators, who have been brilliant all week, announced that Alastair was ‘doing a mistake’ so all British fingers crossed and hoped that Ali could hold it together. The West Cumberland orienteer was strong as always took the ‘Dredge-line’ straight up the hill and burnt off the Finn to finish on the podium in 6th.
Zac Hudd had a strong final leg for the second team bringing the team home as the 8th second team a fantastic result for a young team.
Meanwhile, in the women’s race, EYOC 2018 Gold medallist, Megan Keith was leading out the big hope of the British teams with two JWOC medallists from this week on the second and third leg. Eilidh Campbell was on first leg for the second team, her first time leading out a relay.
Megan Keith at just 17 in her first JWOC delivered what many people are calling the run of the week for a British team who have had so much success. Keeping a calm head and using her fabulous speed Megan handed over to, Middle distance silver medallist, Fiona Bunn in 4th! MAROC orienteer, Eilidh, came back 17th overall and the 6thsecond team.
Fiona Bunn burst away from the handover determined to hunt down those in front. Indeed by the first radio control the CUOC runner the commentators announced that Fiona was in the lead. By this time the British crowd were getting very excited at the possibility of a medal but no one dared mention the g-word. Out of the spectator control, Fiona lost a bit of time to the Russian team featuring Veronica Kalinina on the final leg. Once again the speed of the British athletes helped reel in the opposition giving Forth Valley Orienteer Grace Molloy just a minutes deficit as she set about the task of hauling in the Russian mind set on Gold.
The British crowd were now starting to whisper about the possibility of gold and nervously watched the GPS track of the double JWOC Bronze medal winner. It was an agonising first 10 minutes as it appeared that the Russian, Gold medal winner in the Long this week, would hold off Grace. However, after the second radio control, Grace started to cut into the minute lead and with some committed route choices took the lead just ahead of the spectator control. The final few minutes were a nervous wait for all in the arena with the British team having gained a fair few supporters from other nations. At the final control, Grace punched 14 seconds ahead and was joined by Megan and Fiona for the run in, finishing with a forward roll over the finish line to put the icing on the cake of the best British week at the Junior World Championships ever!
The second women’s team performed well with Niamh Hunter and Laura King converting Eilidh’s strong start into the 6th placed second team and 18th overall!
The medal ceremonies featured a real mix of nations which will please the IOF but the biggest smiles are reserved for the British team, the best men’s relay result in 25 years followed by the first British Gold at the Junior World Orienteering Championships. Congratulations to all the team and a massive thank you to all those who have helped and supported them to get to this level.
Full results can be found here.