The 2nd World MTB Orienteering Championships: Two Gold Medals for Finland

Posted on | October 23, 2004 | Category: News

The 2nd World Mountain Bike Orienteering Championships ended as they began, under clear blue, sunny skies, with a cooling breeze to keep the temperature in the low 20s.

It was Finland’s day, winning both the 51 km women’s race (team Maija Lang, Kirsi Korhonen and Paivi Tommola) and the 70 km men’s event with the team Timo Sarkkinen, Jussi Makila, and Mika Tervala.

After the first leg it seemed that Finland’s second men’s team may cause an upset as Mikko Tommola, their lead rider was first to complete the first leg with Russia’s Ruslan Gritsan, almost a minute ahead of Finland’s first team. At the end of the second leg, there was little between the first Finn team and the Russians, with a pack of about five forming to fight for the bronze medal.

When Russia’s Maxim Zhurkin got a puncture on the last leg, it was an easy task for Mika Tervala to secure the gold medal for the Finnish team. In the end, the Czech team which had climbed from 16th to fifth during the second leg came through the pack and took silver while Australia took bronze. Adrian Jackson led Lubomir Tomecek into the last control but slide past it, giving Tomecek a break which despite Jackson’s best efforts Tomecek did not surrender, breaking the light beam a second ahead of Jackson.

In the women’s race, Maija Lang was fastest on the first leg and from there the Finns were never threatened, winning by over six minutes. As with the men’s race, a pack formed at the end of the second leg to compete for the medals. This time it was Austria that made a remarkable comeback, to be beat Australia’s second team for silver, by 25 seconds.

Although they were fourth, the highly fancied Australian first team lost its medal opportunity when second leg rider, Julie Quinn, had to spend around six minutes repairing a puncture; a time loss from which it did not recover.

In winning both relays, Finland took the honours overall with two gold and two silver medals. Australia was next best with one gold, one silver and three bronze, by far its best ever orienteering World Championships. Five nations won gold medals and eight, i.e. one third of those competing, won at least one medal of any colour.

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