New Zealand sets records in Czechia at the Junior World Orienteering Championships 
By Joolz - Wed 10 Jul 2024 8:41am
New Zealand sets records in Czechia at the Junior World Orienteering Championships 

The New Zealand Junior orienteering team showed they can compete with the best in the world in navigation and terrain running at the Junior World Orienteering Championships in Czechia last week.

Zefa Fa’avae, son of the world famous adventure racer Nathan Fa’avae, ran a near-perfect race to take the silver medal in the long distance race. This was New Zealand’s first junior world championship medal in the long distance discipline. The challenging course traversed steep and rocky terrain and the runners faced many route choice decisions. “I decided to go wide around some of the biggest hills, and try to keep my speed as high as possible”, explained Fa’avae. It was a tactic which worked, with Fa’avae leading the race at the midpoint, but the fast-finishing Swiss runner, Matthieau Buhrer eventually pipped Fa’avae to take the gold by under a minute at the end of the 75 minute race.

Felix Hunt and Kaia Joergensen, both from Christchurch, were other New Zealanders to feature at the top of the results. Hunt placed 13th in the short distance urban race while Joergensen was New Zealand’s top female runner with a 20th in the short distance event, and an 18th place in the most navigationally intense middle distance forest event.

On the final day of competitions, Joergensen combined with Zefa Fa’avae’s sister Tide, and Auckland’s Zara Stewart to take eighth place in the relay event. This result was the highest ever position for the New Zealand women in the world junior relay event.  In the men’s relay race, Jake McLellan from Wellington joined  Zefa Fa’avae and Hunt to take 12th place.

“This year the team has worked hard on both their physical and navigation preparation,” explained head coach, Carsten Joergensen. “We have done a lot of running on the hills, with much of that off track, to build our terrain running strength. Also, Jeni Pearce from High Performance Sport NZ provided us with nutrition and travel advice to help optimise our performance.”

“We are very excited with the overall team performance. This year, out of the 38 countries competing in the team competition, we placed 8th. The nation ranking is based on the combined scores of the top three performances by men and women in each discipline.”

The eight place in the team competition was another highest-ever placing for the New Zealand team, bettering the previous high of a 10th place earned last year in Romania.

Orienteering involves using a map to navigate through terrain at speed to find checkpoints. A team of six female and six male junior athletes (under 20) represented New Zealand at the Junior World Orienteering Championships. The three individual and two relay events were held in the Pilsen area of Czechia from the 1st-6th July. Around 300 athletes representing 38 countries competed at the championships. 

2024 NZ JWOC team
Nathan Borton, Sam Carryer, Riley Croxford, Zefa Fa’avae, Felix Hunt, Jake McLellan, 

Katherine Babington), Rachel Baker, Tide Fa’avae, Phoebe Hunt, Kaia Jørgensen, Zara Stewar

Carsten Joergensen, Briana Steven

#jwoc2024 #jwoc #JunorWorldorienteringChamponships

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