The world of international orienteering is heading to Scotland as the elite of the sport get ready to do battle for nine World Championship titles.
From Friday 31 July to Saturday 8 August The 2015 IOF World Orienteering Championships (WOC2015) and the 20th edition of The Scottish 6-Days, two of the world’s most renowned orienteering events, will be staged alongside each other in the Highlands and Moray. Together they comprise the largest orienteering event ever held in the UK, and one of the largest sporting events to be held in Scotland in 2015.
Up to 400 of the world's best orienteer athletes from 51 nations [with Cameroon, Egypt, Nepal and Uganda attending a world Championships for the first time]; and up to 5,300 club orienteers and enthusiasts from all over the world, will compete in both competitions.
At the end of a week of close fought and tactical racing on some of the finest, yet physically and technically demanding orienteering terrain the UK has to offer, worthy world champions in individual and team sprint, long and middle distance and relay disciplines will have been crowned.
British athletes are likely to feature highly in the WOC 2015 results. The Great Britain team is amongst those at the top of the international rankings and of its 22 athletes (many from Scotland), there are real medal hopes. One of these is Scott Fraser who took the silver medal in the Sprint discipline at WOC 2013. He is ranked 21 in the Sprint World rankings just behind fellow British athletes Kristian Jones and Murray Strain in 19th and 20th respectively. Graham Gristwood, a Middle and Long distance specialist, is ranked 30 in the World overall. Catherine Taylor who will be competing in the Middle, Long and Forest Relay, is ranked 17th in the Sprint World rankings and 18th overall. With such a strong pool of talent within the squad the British relay teams will also be looking to podium in the sprint and forest races.
Orienteering has traditionally been dominated by the Scandinavian nations, where it is considered the ‘national sport’. However, in recent years, French and Swiss athletes have broken through and have had an impressive series of wins. Thierry Gueorgiou FRA, who won seven of the nine World Championship Middle titles between 2003 and 2011, is ranked 4th in the world. Daniel Hubmann, CHE, World number 2, is searching for a World Championships Middle gold medal to go with his previous Sprint and Long titles.
Paul McGreal, WOC 2015 Event Director, said: “Together with The Scottish 6-Days, The 2015 World Orienteering Championships will deliver an international festival of world-class orienteering aimed at everyone from elite and club athletes and support teams to enthusiastic spectators, families and visitors keen to soak up the great atmosphere and camaraderie that the sport generates.
“The areas and arenas we are using for the races are amongst the finest that can be found anywhere in the world, and will provide a challenging test for the best in the world, as well as an exciting and inspirational experience for spectators. WOC2015 and Scotland is going to present the sport in its true competitive and accessible light.”
Scotland is the perfect stage for hosting major international sporting events and 2015 marks the third time that the country has hosted the World Orienteering Championships. The previous occasions were in 1976 and 1999.
The eyes of millions will be on the 2015 World Orienteering Championships and Scotland with world-wide live television coverage, recorded highlights and feature packages being produced at the event. BBC Alba will also be broadcasting live coverage of a number of races and BBC Scotland’s Adventure show are producing a full length feature focusing on the Long race at Glen Affric, considered by many as the blue riband event of the World Championships.
WOC2015 and Scottish 6-Days have great support from a wide range of organisations including British Orienteering in partnership with EventScotland, the International Orienteering Federation, The Highland Council, The Moray Council, Scottish Orienteering, Scottish 6-Days Orienteering and many others.
Mike Hamilton, Chief Executive from British Orienteering, said: “British Orienteering are excited at the prospect of the world’s best orienteers coming to Scotland to enjoy the challenging courses that have been set for them. The World Championships are a great opportunity for our elite orienteers to enjoy a home championships and to provide their overseas competitors with a glimpse of the great orienteering countryside that can be found in Scotland. I’m sure members of the public living in the area and local businesses will also be looking to see what orienteering has to offer.”
Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “With athletes from 51 nations attending, the World Orienteering Championships and The Scottish 6-Days highlight Scotland as the perfect stage for events of global significance. The stunning natural landscapes of the Highlands and Moray lend themselves perfectly to the sport and I’m sure all 5,500 competitors, including the world’s elite athletes, will relish the challenge that lies ahead.”