eyoc :: report of weekend


Rose after her 15th Position in the Classic

The EYOC must rank up there as one of the top 5 international orienteering experiences that juniors should aspire to, alongside the O-ringen, Junior Tio Mila, the big Nordic relays and JWOC.

This year Britain took a developing team of 8 juniors to the European Youth Championships (EYOC) in the Czech city of Sumperk. The sun was hot, the organisation brilliant and the racing hard amongst the mainly Eastern Europeans on their home terrain. The British team went on to produce a good team performance with a few notable individual runs.

The model event on Friday 24th offered the opportunity to run on fast open forests looking for vegetation point features of root stocks, significant trees with a smattering of ‘charm coals’ (charcoal burn platforms), over steep rolling hills. This was before the afternoon opening ceremony and sprint championships.

After a short-ish opening ceremony, the teams were lead away to a holding area in preparation for the sprint, a’la Battersea World Cup style. The athletes left pre-start area and were led quietly into the back of the start/finish arena. With a minute to go the athletes were led out and met with a huge noisy atmosphere before they started.

Ruth produced a top performance to finish 11th in the W18 sprint and Doug Tullie the best of the men in 35th position, minute quicker he could have been in the top 8. As was the theme for the weekend close packing in the field meant mistakes were costly, there was only a spread of 6 minutes between last and first in the men’s field.

Saturday moved to the Holba Classic, named after the local brew, it was a shame there was no free samples around to quench the thirst of the coaches, on the hot day. Out in the forest, the fast clean running of the model event had been replaced by loose stony ground with brashings on top but retained the steep hills.

The BOF president, Bob Roach, came along to support the team and the occasional glass of the sponsor. Bob was rewarded with a great run by Rose Hodkinson to put her in to 15th and it certainly made amends for her 5 minute running of the map escapade at the sprint. Douglas Tullie not to be outdone took 21st in the M18. Both were only 5 minutes off a podium and possible medal positions.

The relays took place the night after an impressive thunder storm which took the edge of the heat. The Czech M18 Stipan Kodeda completed an impressive weekend by coming back first on the first leg of the relay, after winning the sprint and classic. No such luck for Douglas Tullie who was unfortunate to mis-punch on a bush 25-30m away from the tree he was meant to be going for. John Rocke and David Scorah completed the relay anyhow, and would have been placed 11th overall (just over 5 minutes down on a podium finsh). Kyle had to sit out with a thigh strain.

Meanwhile in the W18 relay, Tessa had a great run, leading for a few legs out in the forest and recovered from a late mistake, to come back with the pack that were just down on the top three. Stef Blomquist, in a mixed countries team, ran a great solo run from a later start time in the W18 relay. Ruth completed the relay after badly twisting her ankle and with blisters, by digging her compass into hand to try and block out the pain.

Both teams ended up just five minutes down on a podium finish, while 8 of the 12 weekend gold medals went to the Czechs.

The weekend produced good results, in many cases not far off a podium position. This was good considering the lack of preparation the athletes have compared to JWOC. EYOC give athletes a good idea of big time racing pressure and the pride (plus additional pressures) of representing Great Britain. It would be good to see a British team as one of the 20+ teams in Slovenia. Is it worth taking a 16’s team as well?

The true test of the weekend will lie ahead over the next few years. Next year the athletes (who just missed out on this years JWOC), will be (hopefully) going to JWOC 2006 better prepared by a real taste of international experience. They may even go on to produce the hub of the team for Australia 2007. Now it is up for the juniors themselves to bottle up there new found motivation, store it for the long winter months of training to come and prove next they are worthy of selection for JWOC.


The Team (minus Pooley) at the Opening Cermony

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