2023 was the first full year of the new Performance Pathway Structure, where alongside the Junior and Senior International Competition Calendar there were a total of 16 training camps, held in both in the UK and abroad.
The Senior International Calendar started with World Cup 1 in Norway, a Forest competition programme leading into the Forest World Championships later in the year. It was a solid start to the season with some athletes picking up their first World Cup points and the athletes having the opportunity to wear the new Trimtex kit.
Following the WOC Selection Races the 9 strong squad was selected to travel to Switzerland to race at WOC, after a good preparation camp, Megan Carter-Davies was able to show her strength in the forest as well as the sprint events just missing out on a place on the podium with a 7th in the Long. She also had a strong result in the Middle finishing in 12th position. On a hot final day, both the Womens and Mens relay teams were in action finishing in 8th and 17threspectively.
Images: The Senior Team pose in their new Trimtex Kit ahead of World Cup Round 1 and Ralph Street celebrates following his first World Cup win at World Cup Round 2. Credits: Rob Lines.
As the senior International season headed to its half way point, World Cup 2 in Czechia, hosted a mix of both forest and sprint races. With less than three weeks since WOC, Ralph Street took home his first World Cup win in the Individual Sprint race. Cheered on by his fellow team mates as he approached the finish line, he kept his cool throughout the 4km course to comfortably win by 14 seconds, on a day which was largely successful with five of the six British Men finishing inside the top 22.
The competition moved into the forest for the final days of competition where the sandstone terrain proved to be a challenge for all the athletes especially after the heavy rainfall on the steep slopes.
Images: Megan Carter-Davies at EOC 2023 and Jonathan Crickmore at World Cup Round 2. Credits: Rob Lines
The World Cup Final which also hosted the European Championships closed the Senior International season as the team looks forward to the home WOC in 2024. With races taking place just a few meters from the famous Roman Amphitheatre Arean in Verona, the quick, flat course favoured Ralph Street as he finished an agonising 4th place just missing a medal by 1 second.
Ralph once again missed out on the medals in the Knock-Out Sprint finishing in 4th place in a race where only 0.5seconds split 2nd-4th, but the team managed to land a place on the podium in the Mixed Sprint Relay with Charlotte Ward, Nathan Lawson, Ralph Street and Megan Carter-Davies finishing 6th.
Ralphs overall performance throughout the Senior World Cup’s earned him 5th in the overall ranking and he will be looking to challenge for the medals at WOC next year.
The Junior international competition programme was made up of EYOC, JWOC and JEC and welcomed both seasoned International athletes and fresh faces to the start lines.
Bulgaria hosted EYOC where the first race was took place in the streets and parks of Velingrad. Lyra Medlock was the highest place British athlete finishing in 9th place, before the competition turned to the pine forest for the Long event. With excellent results across the board, it was James Hammond who was top British athletes in 13th. The final day of competition was dominated by Finland in the Men's and Women’s forest relays, but the Mens 16 team just missed out on a podium place in 7th, with credible finishes from all teams.
Images: The Junior Team in their new Trimtex kit at JEC 2023 and Jim Bailey at JWOC 2023. Credits: JWOC Official.
The Junior competition turned to Romania for JWOC, with day 1 on a fast flat course including plenty of tricky challenges as the athletes made their way through the course. Jim Bailey had an excellent race securing a top 10 finish with Rachel Brown finishing inside the top 20.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be for the Mixed Sprint relay as the strong performances from the previous day didn’t carry forward into the relays in a race which was full of drama.
Images: Rachel Brown at JEC 2023 and Euan Tryner at JWOC 2023. Credits: Christophe Amerijckx Photography and JWOC Official.
Both Rachel Brown and Jim Bailey had another strong day in the Middle, with Euan Tryner also having a good result in the Long.
Both Men's and Women's teams had great performances in the forest relays and were unfortunate to both just miss the podium in 7th place.
JEC rounded up the Junior International competition season as the athletes travelled to Belgium in the beautiful forests of Wallonia, with Imogen Pieters securing a place on the podium, finishing 6th in the Middle.
Imogen followed this up with a top 10 in the long, alongside Alex Wetherill and Jim Bailey and the Mens and Womens relay teams finished in 8th and 9th place respectively.
With all eyes next year on WOC 2024 which will take place in Edinburgh. Those athletes looking for selection will be working hard over the winter to try and secure a place in World Cup 1 and 2, and with three World Cup competitions, World Cup Final as well as World University Championships alongside the Junior Calendar of EYOC, JWOC and JEC it certainly looks to be a busy and exciting year!