Deaflympics Orienteering


The Ukraine Deaf Orienteering Team reigned supreme along with Deaf Orienteering legend Tomas Kuzminskis at the 20th Deaflympics held in Melbourne. The Orienteering races with Sprint, Classic & Relay formats were held near Balarat, recent host to the World MTB Orienteering Championships.

The Deaflympics are the second oldest multi-sport event after the Olympics, having been regularly held for the past 80 years. Although lacking in the profile of the Paralympics, the Deaflympics have been growing rapidly over recent years. Orienteering has been included in the past 2 events, held in Rome & Copenhagen, mainly as the result of a thriving deaf orienteering community in the Baltic Regions with frequent events and a European Deaf Championships held every 4 years since 1988. EBOR Member Peter OConnell took part at the last European Championships which were held in Latvia last August.

The Sprint race was held in flat urban parkland with the first of two Gold medals going to Lithuanian Tomas Kuzminskis, winning in a time of 24:50 against a field of 26 runners. Christian Matter of Switzerland took Silver, 2:25 behind with Latvia's Andis Krams in Bronze. In the Women's Sprint it was the first of two Gold & Silver Doubles for the Ukraine. Maryna Chekhunova winning by 1:45 in a time of 30:29 from Iana Melnyk with Russian Olga Dula a further 5 seconds adrift in Bronze position.

In the Classic distance, held on one of the areas used in the 1994 World Cup races, the women faced a course of around 6.5km while the men had 10.3km. The race had actually been delayed by a day due to a fire ban imposed on the area leading to it being deemed too dangerous to have competitors in the area. However when the event did get to go ahead it was another Ukraine top two as Tetyana Lavryk took top spot with a winning margin of 1:37 in a time of 61:05. Chekhunova had to settle for Silver, with Dula settling for Bronze once again. In the Men's race it was once again Kuzminskis who took Gold, winning by a convincing 4:57 in a time of 66:18. Silver this time went to Victor Dinges of Russia with Torborn Svenningsson taking third, both moving up from 4th & 5th in the sprint respectively.

Only the men's relay was competitive due to a lack of women's teams, and it was the Ukraine Team who took their 5th medal of the competition by a convincing margin of almost 20 minutes from Sweden with Russia picking up Bronze. The competition ended with disappointment for Kuzminskis & Lithuania as an earlier mispunch canceled out his run, the 2nd fastest time of the day. Finland too missed out on a probable podium position through a mispunch on the final leg whilst in 3rd place.

Sprint Final 9 Jan 2005 - Men

1 Kuzminskis, Tomas LTU 24:50 Gold
2 Matter, Christian SUI 27:15 Silver
3 Krams, Andis LAT 28:40 Bronze

Sprint Final 9 Jan 2005 - Women

1 Chekhunova, Maryna UKR 30:29 Gold
2 Melnyk, Iana UKR 32:14 Silver
3 Dula, Olga RUS 32:19 Bronze

Long Final 12 Jan 2005 - Men

1 Kuzminskis, Tomas LTU 66:18 Gold
2 Dinges, Victor RUS 71:15 Silver
3 Svenningsson, Torborn SWE 72:25 Bronze

Long Final 12 Jan 2005 - Women

1 Lavryk, Tetyana UKR 61:05 Gold
2 Chekhunova, Maryna UKR 62:42 Silver
3 Dula, Olga RUS 70:55 Bronze

Relay Final 13 Jan 2005 - Men

1 UKR Ukraine UKR 128:59 Gold
Yuryk, Oleksandr 42:58
Lavryk, Oleg 47:17
Sankin, Oleksandr 38:44

2 SWE Sweden SWE 148:41 Silver
Ljungberg, Curt 47:21
Hagstedt, Lars 49:25
Svenningsson, Torborn 51:55

3 RUS Russian Federation RUS 152:36 Bronze
Dinges, Victor 43:07
Farkhutdinov, Ravil 69:11
Znamenshchikov, Dmitry 40:18

Full Results, Splits & Information can be found here.

For Kuzminskis these championships provided him with his 5th individual Gold from a possible of 6 in the Deaflympics - a fantastic achievement. Add to this the fact that he took Gold in all three disciplines at last years European Championships and both titles at the 2000 European Championships he really is one of the most prolific Deaf Orienteers ever. He also often features in the top 10 at regular events in Lithuania and is currently ranked 165th in the world. In fact, he finished only a few minutes down on Dan Marston at the Vilnius 3 Days, beating a number of nopesport regulars in the process!

The Deaflympics heads for Taipai in 2009 and more information on the Deaflympics can be found here with information on all the events from Melbourne found here.

Information on European & World Deaf Orienteering events can be found here.


Tomas Kuzminskis - the Simone Luder of Deaf O

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