WOC Sprint Final

Olomouc lies on the Morava river and is said to be the “ecclesiastical metropolis” of Moravia. It was somewhat fitting then that today the best orienteers in the world raced through the parklands beside the river and around the churches in the city centre for medals in the sprint distance. The race and city were full of excitment and drama, with some Aussie success. Many believe this was the most entertaining of the seven sprint world championships…

Like this morning’s qualification races, the women’s race was first away. Jasmine Neve hit the streets first and finished her first WOC final a little disappointed, but it’s a select few that are good enough to get the opportunity to race a WOC final. Kathryn Ewels has been one of the best Australian sprinters since running her first in 2003, and got the team’s best result for the day – 27th place, 2.12 behind the almost unbeatable Anne Margrethe Hausken of Norway. Grace Elson was consistent as always and finished off the Aussie women’s afternoon in 32nd place, 2.25 off the lead.

Ewels running into 27th place

Ewels running into 27th place

Elson powers into the last control

Elson powers into the last control

All eyes were on Uppill - first man into the "forest"

All eyes were on Uppill – first man into the “forest”

Dent takes his map and races away

Dent takes his map and races away

As Simon Uppill stood on the start ramp and the time ticked towards 6pm the dark clouds started rolling in over Olomouc. Uppill was not pleased with his race, making mistakes early in the cruicial crux of the course, finishing in 43rd place. Julian Dent was still suffering the effects of his sickness and struggled to run at his usual speed, finishing just ahead of his team mate in 42nd.

As the Australians were warming down an electrical storm hit the centre of Olomouc and the spectators and organisers were drenched in a short but sharp downpour. As the clouds cleared and the thunder rolled away to the north it seemed the excitement was all over and it would be business as usual for the favourites at the back end of the start list. Then Emil Wingsted ran past a TV control without punching. Everyone in the arena held their breath glued to the big screen watching to see whether Wingsted would realise and turn back. He didn’t, and as he crossed the finish line in the lead he was told by the commentator of his disqualification. The cameras hovered over Wingsted as the understanding came and disappointment hit…

Last year’s bronze medallist, Martin Johansson was a relatively early starter and held the lead for a large part of the race. Then Andrey Kramov (RUS) and Daniel Hubmann (SWI) started to really liven things up. They battled all the way to the end where Kramov came out on top, with Hubmann in silver (again) just 2 seconds behind – but an amazing 34 seconds ahead of third.

Next up is the long qualification on Tuesday morning (starts in the morning local time, evening in Australia). Australia will put three women (Vanessa Round, Jo Allison and Kathryn Ewels) and one man (Kerrin Rattray) on the start line.

Read more on the teams Attackpoint Trog and follow the action live on the Official WOC website.