Posted on | September 6, 2004 | Category: News

Saturday 11th September marks the start of the 2004 World Championships in Orienteering (WOC) – the first time WOCs have been held in successive years since 1978/79 when there was a change from even to odd years. The reason this time, however, is that WOC will be held every year from now on. Sweden is the host country for 2004, the event centre being Västerås, situated about 100 km west of Stockholm. 38 nations in all will be represented.

The first-ever World Championships in Trail Orienteering (WTOC) – the discipline for disabled orienteers – will be held in conjunction with WOC, with competitors from 12 nations. The 2004 IOF Congress will also take place in Västerås during WOC week.

Swedish orienteers enjoyed considerable success at the European Championships in Denmark in July, and will be determined to demonstrate their skills to the full on home ground next week. Can we therefore anticipate a string of medals for Sweden? There are many elite orienteers from around the world who have been in Sweden for some time preparing for these Championships, and it is a certainty that no medals will be easily won.

All eyes will be on Simone Niggli-Luder, Switzerland, who won 4 gold medals – a clean sweep – in the 2003 WOC on her home ground. She is clearly the world leader in women’s orienteering on all kinds of terrain, stronger and faster than anyone else and with very well-tuned technical skills. Can she repeat the feat in Sweden? Logic says no, but she will certainly be going all out for a win every time.

There is no clear favourite in any of the disciplines in men’s orienteering, but the leading positions in the IOF World Rankings are dominated by Scandinavians. Current leaders in the Rankings are Mats Haldin and Jarkko Huovila, both from Finland, with one point separating them. From outside Scandinavia, France’s Thierry Gueorgiou, middle distance gold medallist in 2003, is likely to be one of the strongest challengers, and Switzerland will as always be bringing a strong team. The best runners from countries such as the Czech Republic, Great Britain and Russia will also be challenging for medal places.

The 2004 WOC is planned to be a very media- and spectator-friendly event, and all the finals will be covered by Swedish TV. Full details of the comprehensive internet news and results provision can be found on the WOC website, www.woc2004.com. The WOC Web Portal on the IOF website www.orienteering.org will carry reports, pictures and leading results from every day of competition.

WOC Competition Dates (all September):

Sunday 12th Long Distance Qualification
Monday 13th Middle Distance Qualification
Wednesday 15th a.m.: Sprint Qualification
p.m.: Sprint Final
Thursday 16th Long Distance Final
WTOC Day 1
Friday 17th WTOC Day 2
Saturday 18th Middle Distance Final
Sunday 19th Relays
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