In a twist, the World University Orienteering Championships have ended with an Australian relay team consisting of one man and three women placing well down the field in the men’s final — but still beating several teams, including the USA!
With the competition being run over the last week in Kosice in the Slovak Republic, Australia has had a small representation due to our semesters not coinciding with the northern hemisphere summer break. This left both men’s and women’s teams without the necessary 4 runners for relay teams. In true Aussie “give it a go spirit” our three women competitors, Kirsten Fairfax, Anna Sheldon and Grace Elson joined with Simon Goddard to compete officially in the men’s final. Following solid runs by Goddard, Fairfax and Sheldon, Elson overtook the Japanese fourth leg runner to bring the Australian team into 20th place, ahead of Japan, Serbia and Montenegro and the USA.
Elson was recovering from injury following a fall during the middle distance final on Thursday which saw her withdraw from that event. She had placed 9th in a field of 73 in the long distance final the previous day, and went on to place 19th in the sprint. Sheldon obtained Australia’s next best results with a 19th in the long distance, 37th in the middle distance, and 29th in the sprint.