Following JWOC, WOC and, usually, a World Cup round, September is generally a relatively quiet month on both the international and domestic scene. This year has been no different, and gives a bit of a breather to assess the rest of the year. With the Australian Carnival under way in Western Australia, the final round of the World Cup starting on Wednesday, and the delayed ONZ Champs now less than 3 weeks away, it is time to refocus.
Selections, plans and databases
As I hope will have been seen on the ONZ website, selection calls are now out for a whole series of events in 2024. These include not only JWOC and WOC, but for the first time EYOC (European Youth Championships) has been added to the list, and in addition there will be formal selection of New Zealand teams for the Oceania Sprint relay in January.
One question that has been raised with regard to JWOC is why the date for notification of availability (for 2024 JWOC it is the 20 January) is early in the year. The answer to that lies very much in the increased visibility we strive for in having orienteering recognized as a High performance sport, and not just a somewhat odd past-time. JWOC, as a World Championship, is not something that one makes a late decision to aim for. Proper preparation, which I hope all aspiring JWOC athletes intend, requires careful advance planning, a solid training programme, and guidance and dedication. In terms of international expectations, even 20 January is leaving things a bit late. Thus, as in 2023, all those who express an interest will form part of a JWOC training squad under the eye of Squad Coach in preparation for trials in March.
Although many of those selected for JWOC, at least those who are still M/W-18, will use EYOC, a couple of weeks in advance of JWOC, for preparation, EYOC forms an excellent introduction to orienteering on the other side of the world. It is largely through the generous offices of Jenni Adams and Carsten Joergensen that in previous years EYOC has been available to others. The aim know is to make selection for EYOC a more formal process, especially with the aim of getting those in the M/W-16 classes a taste of higher level orienteering than is generally available in Oceania.
It may be a surprise to some, but one of the things that I have done for many years now is keep a record (call it a database if you like) of our top athletes, both senior and junior, and recorded their performances both internationally and domestically. More athletes are added every year and my records currently cover about 65 athletes in total. To show the kind of record, above is an example (I trust he will not mind) of part of Tim Robertson’s record. This part covers international forest races – basically World Cup, World Champs and other really major international events. Although most of it is self-explanatory there are a couple of points that need explaining. The “Base” is the average time of top three placegetters in the race. This is then used to calculate how far behind, as a percentage, the athlete is. I have certain “standards” which are noted. In the forest, for a man, being within 15% of the base (an average calculated over many events and recently updated) is a level equivalent to at least a top 20-30 position. Such a performance is marked in red. Marked in green are performances just outside that, for men in the forest 15-20% behind. For women the equivalent levels are 20% and 25% – yes the women’s field is less competitive at the top. For sprint races the levels are 10% and 15% for both men and women. The record is kept current so that anything from 2019 and before is no longer considered recent form. For domestic events, which include Oceania, ONZ, Australian Champs as well as, now, King’s Birthday, only the winners time, the athlete’s time and place are recorded.
Although such records play no part in selection, something that I also have no part in, they do provide me with a means of keeping tabs on who is performing, who is coming up through the juniors, and so on.
Australian Champs Carnival
As alluded to above, the Australian Champs Carnival is now underway in Western Australia. As is usual when on the other side of the continent, the fields are somewhat smaller and, at least in the elite classes, not as strong as normal with only one member of the Australian WOC team in the 21E field for the middle distance, and about half of the JWOC team in 20E. Nevertheless there were some outstanding New Zealand results over last weekend. In particular, in the Australian Middle Champs there was a 1-2-3 in M21E from Joseph Lynch, Zefa Fa’avae and Felix Hunt, the latter two running up. In W21E Briana Steven took 3rd. In the 20E’s Katherine Babington also took a 3rd place, while Sam Carryer was top Kiwi in M20E in 6th place.
M21E: 1. Joseph Lynch 31:33, 2. Zefa Fa’avae 34:46, 3. Felix Hunt 36:44, 4. Paul de Jongh 37 :15, 5. Ryan Gray 39 :26, 6. Simonius Jager 40 :37.
W21E : 1. Natasha Key 38 :43, 2. Francesca Taufer 40 :15, 3. Briana Steven 42:32, 4. Aislinn Prendergast 42;39, 5. Amber Riddle 46:49, 6. Kellie Whitfield 48:34.
M20E: 1. Leith Soden 32:52, 2. Sam Woolford 35:47, 3. Callum White 36:37, 4. Oscar Brown 37:02, 5. Jamie Woolford 37:20, 6. Sam Carryer 38:23.
W20E: 1. Eszter Kocsik 40:08, 2. Sophie Taverna 41 :03, 3. Katherine Babington 41:47, 4. Justine Hobson 42;17, 5. Phoebe Hunt 42:30, 6. Erika Enderby 43:33.
M21E from the Australian Middle Distance Champs
In Sunday’s Australian relay the M21E team, running as PAPO, of Zefa, Simonius Jager and Joseph continued the winning ways with a narrow 6 second victory over South Australia. The similarly assembled W21E team of Amber Riddle, Katherine Babington and Briana were 2nd to Victoria. Two New Zealand teams were in the top 3 in M20E, with Eddie Swain, Riley Croxford and Felix taking 2nd, although the best a New Zealand team could make in W20E was 4th.
M21E: 1. PAPO (Zefa Fa’avae, Simonius Jager, Joseph Lynch) 1:34:34, 2. South Australian 1:34:40, 3. ACT 1:40:28.
W21E: 1. Victoria 1:49:54, 2. PAPO (Amber Riddle, Katherine Babington, Briana Steven) 2:04:26, 3. West Australia 2:26:08.
M20E: 1. NSW 1:20:27, 2. PAPO (Eddie Swain, Riley Croxford, Felix Hunt) 1:23:31, 3. NZL2 (Marcus Brennan, Nicholas Green, Sam Carryer) 1:32:10.
W20E: 1. NSW 1:46:48, 2. South Australia 2:02:41, 3. Tasmania 2:05:12.
The carnival continues with the school’s events during this week and the Australian long and sprint next weekend.
World Cup Round 3
The final round of the IOF World Cup, also the European Sprint Champs, starts on Wednesday this week in Verona/Vicenza in Italy. New Zealand has only Tim and Laura Robertson competing, and it will provide the chance for Tim to rise to the top of the World Sprint Rankings. He currently sits in 3rd place behind world champions Matthias Kyburz and Kasper Harlem Fosser. After the individual sprint on Wednesday, the sprint relay is on Friday, with no official NZL team although there may well be a mixed AUS/NZL one. The KO sprint is on Sunday and should prove compelling watching.
Under 23 HP Camp 2023
A reminder that applications for the Under 23 HP are due by Friday 13 October 2023 and can be made through https://www.orienteering.org.nz/news/u23-camp-applications-now-open/.