Dear John Taylor Foundation,
Thank you so much for supporting me to represent Great Britain
at both the European Youth Orienteering Championships (EYOC) and the Junior World Orienteering Championships (JWOC).
The European Youth Orienteering Champs was held in Salgótarjáni, Hungary from the 1st-4th of July. I was selected as one of 4 under 18 girls and had an amazing time competing in the foreign terrain.
On the 1st of July we went to both the forest and sprint model event which were in similar areas to the races and gave us the opportunity to familiarise ourselves with the Hungarian terrain and mapping. The forest was pretty different from anything I had competed in before but the majority of it was runnable with not too much vegetation in the white areas.
The next day was the long race where came 49th out of 94. I struggled a lot in the heat which was over 30 degrees but it felt like a solid first international race.
The sprint race was held on the Sunday, I find sprint races more challenging because I come from such a rural area and don’t have access to many places to train for them so definitely have a lack of confidence when it comes to this discipline. This, combined with the heat and pressure of an international competition really affected my performance as I made mistakes on the second and third controls. Afterwards, I was determined to redeem myself at the relay the following day.
I ran the first leg of the relay and so was part of the mass start. I enjoyed the pressure of running first leg, it was the best experience setting off with my competitors from all over Europe. Everyone started off together as a pack for the first couple of controls, however as the gaffles started the pack began to spread out as everyone headed off to their slightly different controls. The race went well and I was consistently in the top 6 until the second last control where I lost concentration and made a mistake, dropping me to 10th place.
I ended up with a good time but I was disappointed, especially when I checked the live results and found out that I was in 3rd place halfway round the course. It gave me a confidence boost and I learnt a lot from this race, especially how to put my head down and not get distracted by others. It also made me motivated and hungry for more.
After EYOC me and 3 other teammates traveled straight to Portugal for JWOC.
The Junior World Orienteering Championships was held in Aguiar de Beira, Portugal from the 9th-16th of July. For this competition, I was one of 6 under 20 girls running for Great Britain. This was pretty daunting for me because I am 17 and was competing against girls three years older than me, however, after being selected as one of the youngest we were on the team to gain international experience racing for our future junior careers.
We were joined by the rest of the GB team on the Thursday, however, on Friday evening we heard that due to the extreme temperatures causing forest fires, there had been a ban on forest access in the whole of Portugal meaning that the forest races would not be able to take place. We were then told that the sprint race would go ahead and they would also put on the first official JWOC mixed sprint relay and an extra unofficial sprint relay non-medal race.
I struggled during the individual sprint race as I had a late start in extreme temperatures of over 40 degrees. I had never orienteered in these temperatures before and it really affected me.
However, there was still the mixed sprint relay on the Wednesday. I had one of the best runs of my life and came in in 4th place. Even though I was in the B relay we still had the same courses as the A one and so were able to compare times, I had the fastest time of all the GB girls and worked out that if I had been running the A relay I would have been 17th.
This was the highlight of my competition and a massive confidence boost. It definitely changed the way I feel about sprint orienteering, having proved to myself that it was something I could be successful in.
Towards the end of the week we also heard that the forest races were being postponed until the autumn and so I will be returning to Portugal in November for the middle, long and relay races. I’m delighted that I will have the opportunity to run in these amazing forests.
Overall, this was such an incredible experience, I’ve learnt so much about the pressure of competing at a world class level and the highs and lows of international competition. I have also gained valuable experience for future years. Again, thank you so much for your funding, it’s allowed me to gain so much from my international debut.