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Julien Dent took Oceania 2007 clean sweep

Last week while some of the world's elite were building up for the final World Cup races of the year, a host of other world ranking events were taking place in the southern hemisphere.

The Oceanic Championships took place around Canberra during the first week of October, with World Ranking races in sprint, middle and long disciplines and a team competition between Australia and New Zealand across all age classes.

Monday 1 October saw the middle distance championships where Australia dominated, Julian Dent and Grace Elson well clear on the Men's and Women's courses respectively. Only New Zealander on the podium was Ross Morrison in 3rd while "Brit" David Brickhill Jones, back in his native Australia, took 5th spot 6 minutes down.

On Friday 5 October the sprint championships were held, with competitors facing a complex Radford College map with the winning times much closer than in the middle. Again it was Dent who took victory from David Shepherd, but only by 2 seconds with Simon Uppill completing the Australian dominance in 3rd spot, a further 5 seconds down. Grace Elson had to settle for second place this time, 5 seconds behind Natasha Key, with Jasmin Neve completing the Australian podium.

The long distance race the following day provided a clean sweep of the titles for Julian Dent with Grace Elson also taking her second victory of the week as Australia once again took top three on both courses.

Missing from these events was the 2006 Junior & Senior World Champion Hanny Allston, who was busy winning the Melbourne Marathon by a minute in a personal best time of 2:40:35.

Elsewhere in the Southern Hemisphere there was another string of World Ranking Events taking place in China at the Yunnan International Orienteering Festival, which had attracted a group of Norwegian, Swedish and Russian orienteers including Junior World Champion Olav Lundanes of Norway and JWOC silver medalist Magne Dhli.

They weren't to have it easy in this country of developing orienteering however, with Chinese runners taking top spot in the opening men's and women's sprint races. Mo Jing Xiong beating Lundanes by two seconds, with Russian Ilya Slepov in third a further 5 seconds down while in the women's race it was Olympic 10,000m runner Li Ji who took top spot, over 10 seconds clear of compatriot Mingyue Zhu with Norwegian Ida Marie Ness Bjorgul in third.

The middle distance race in the tough terrain around Kunming however went with experience, but times were long as with Magne Dhli taking a convincing 3 minute victory in a time of 53 minutes for the 5.3km course. Russian Ilia Slepov was second with Guilong Li of China in third. Frida Bakkman and Sara Eskilsson of Sweden took the top two spots in the women's race, with Mingyue Zhu of China in third ahead of a number of her compatriots.

The final race of the championships, and another sprint, was held in hilly terrain around Golden Temple, Kunming. Once again it was Magne Dhli who took victory, this time just one second clear of Lundanes, with a time of 21:47 for the 2.9km course. Sergey Osipov of Russian completed the top 3 with Ilya Slepov and Fredrik Johanssson not far behind. Li Ji was once again the victor in the women's race, a minute clear of Zhu Yue Ming with Sofia Adolfsson a further 30 seconds down in third.

These races in China continue to help promote the sport in this country of opportunity. Given the appeal of sprint orienteering in China, and the nation hosting the World Games in 2009, the International World Games Association have recently accepted the IOFs request for the addition of a sprint event to the previously included middle distance competition and mixed team relay. As with previous World Games, the IOF will invite 40 men and 40 women to compete with the qualification criteria being published in November.

More information and results from the Oceania 2007 championships can be found at the Oceania 2007 website while information on the World Ranking Events in China can be found on the .


Mo Jing Xiong (middle) on way to victory (pwt.org)

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