Orienteering: Set to take on the world

By Andre Zwan

Twenty Hawke's Bay athletes are off to Portugal to compete in the World Schools' Orienteering Championship next month.

The champs have lured top schools from each national federation in a series of races every two years. Each school will send two teams (five juniors and five seniors) to compete in Algarve on Portugal's south coast from April 15-21.

In New Zealand, selection took place at the nationals held in Taranaki in July last year.

Napier Boys' High and Napier Girls' High Schools retained their trophies as the best in the country, earning selection to the worlds.

Athletes compete in middle- and long-distance races before teaming with competitors from two other nations in a friendship relay. They will also take part in several activities and cultural exchanges.

The Nation's Night is a platform to present their cultures.

Two years ago in Primerio, Italy, NBHS and NGHS led New Zealand to unprecedented success, gaining silver medals in the junior boys' and junior girls' teams events.

Individually, Callum Herries and Brianna Massie won silvers in the long distance while Vida Fox and Devon Beckman had top-six finishes. Isaac Sweetapple teamed with a Slovenian and a Belgian, leading them to gold in the friendship relay.

"The success of both schools is down to the willingness of the athletes to train, compete and raise funds and the support of Hawke's Bay Orienteering Club for all local schools," team manager Karen Beckman said.

Teacher Hugh Forlong-Ford said: "To be a good orienteerer, the athletes need to be not just fit but smart and self-sufficient. When you're alone in the bush, you not only need to be able to know where you are and where you're going but how to get there by the fastest route.

"Fortunately, Derek Morrison is one of New Zealand's best orienteering coaches and he has helped the team to hone their skills for years. In fact, he's been coaching the schools' teams for longer than some of the current squad have been alive."

Senior boys: Hamish Allen, Devon Beckman, Ieuan Edmonds, Callum Herries, Rory Ward. Girls: Molly D'Ath, Vida Fox, Brianna Massie, Katherine Rybinski, Moneika Scott.

Junior boys: Fraser Geddes, Jackson Plumpton, David Rawnsley, Reuben Sweetapple, Will Tremain. Girls: Olivia Beckman, Georgia Creagh, Amelia Elphick-Iaveta, Harriet Holt, Claudia Layton.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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