Monday, July 24, 2006

WOC-4: Jamie Stevenson World Champion TM

The sequence was never going to go on for ever, so I didn't make it to WOC 2003 in Switzerland. Instead I had to settle for sitting at home with an internet connection to find out what sort of facilities the Swiss had managed to provide. Luckily I have a job where I can work from home occasionally, so I managed to arrange to be in for the main races. 

The strange thing about Switzerland is that we probably didn’t have particularly high expectations. Heather and Jamie were clearly in with a chance, but after Finland the thought of medals had receded. I don’t remember exactly what facilities were provided on the internet, and this is an area where things have changed quite a lot recently. I certainly remember listening to the audio feed from the commentary team, and I think there were real-time results from the finish and probably some intermediate controls. What I do remember is realising that Jamie was on a flyer half way through the sprint race, and then that he finished in the lead. There was then a tense wait for everybody behind him, before it was finally confirmed that Jamie Stevenson (World Champion TM, for trade mark, as he soon became known) was Britain’s second orienteering World Champion.

I went downstairs and broke the news to Helen, and then went back upstairs to work. There was probably a slightly larger party amongst the fans in Switzerland that night. The only thing I remember about the middle distance and long distance was the debate about whether Simone Niggli-Luder could really win all three individual titles on home terrain. We all know now that she is the greatest female orienteer ever, but this was the week when it first became apparent. She won the relay as well to take four golds out of four, to add to her gold and bronze from 2001. Another long-term star came to the front of the field with Thierry Gueorgiou winning the middle race to take his first world title.

And for British fans the finish to the week was as exciting as the start had been. The men were always in the fight for medals in the relay, and eventually Dan Marston, Jon Duncan and Jamie Stevenson World Champion TM came home third to take bronze. Sitting at home spectating wasn’t quite like being there, but at least we knew in almost real time what was going on. The main thing you miss is the chance to run on the areas themselves and find out quite how technical and physical they really were.

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