Friday, July 14, 2006

WOC-14: News travels slowly

The first 10 years of my WOC spectating career was spent reading about the events in The Orienteer and CompassSport, normally several weeks if not months after the events had taken place. If you were lucky you might see the results themselves in The Times or The Daily Telegraph, but that was about it. This was a time when British medals were no more than faint hopes, so there was no real prospect of any coverage unless someobody wanted a "look what these strange people do" type article.

There was no internet to provide instant global access to everything that was going on, and the concept of actually going to watch the World Championships simply didn't feature in my plans. Instead I was too busy trying out the delights of the Swiss 5-Days, the Swedish O-Ringen, the Sorlandsgaloppen, the Danish 3-Day, the Scottish 6-Day and various other multi-day events around Europe. So WOC78 in Norway, WOC79 in Finland, WOC81 in Switzerland, WOC83 in Hungary and WOC85 in Australia largely passed me by.

Perhaps my first conscious sighting of a World Champion was seeing a skinny Norwegian winning the Swiss 5-Day event in 1980: Oyvin Thon had become World Champion at WOC 79 in Finland. This was a time of complete domination by the Norwegian men. They took the first three places in 1979 and 1981 and, unbelievably, the first four places in 1983. The women's race was dominated by one woman rather than one country. Annichen Kringstad of Sweden was World Champion in 1981, 1983 and 1985. Anybody care to predict the result of a Kringstad race against Simone Niggli?

Back in the present day, I've just spotted that the Danish selection races are being covered live on the internet tomorrow afternoon. Time for a spot of spectator training I think.

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