World Orienteering Championships: Dramatic relays

Posted on | August 22, 2009 | Category: News

Today’s World Championship relays took place at the same venue as the middle distance competition. The tracks were tough both physically and technically, and no team managed to do a flawless performance.

Russia led the men’s relay after the first leg, but Francois Gonon passed Valentin Novikov a few meters before the finish on the second leg and sent Thierry Gueorgiou to the last leg in lead. Andrey Khramov started a couple of seconds later.

A real drama took place in third leg: first both Andrey Khramov and Thierry Gueorgiou made mistakes and Martin Johansson took the lead for Sweden. Suddenly the Swede got an injury: a stick of wood went into his leg. His opponents stopped to help him: Anders Nordberg from Norway, Thierry Gueorgiou, France and Michal Smola, Czech Republic all gave up their positions to help their fellow competitor. Meanwhile Matthias Merz – who didn’t know anything about the accident – with a clear and fast run came up to first place from the eighth one. Andrey Khramov saved silver for Russia, although Mats Haldin (FIN) and Edgars Bertuks (LAT) got really close to him. They were fighting from the middle part of the course and caught the last control together, but the Finnish runner was stronger and got the bronze. Behind Latvia (who got their best place in WOC history ever) arrived Ádám Kovács, Hungary, with a great run. Sixth place went to Poland making surprise.

The womens relay was won by Norway (Betty Ann Bjerkreim Nilsen, Anne Margrethe Hausken and Marianne Andersen) after a keen battle with five other nations on the last leg. Sweden got silver medal and Finland bronze, the next three teams being Switzerland, Czech Republic and Russia. Sweden was leading after the first leg after a good performance by Karolina A. Höjsgaard. On the second leg, Merja Rantanen (FIN) was the fastest of the day and sent Minna Kauppi in lead to the last leg. Kauppi had problems in the beginning, but so did her competitors Marianne Andersen (NOR), Simone Niggli (SUI) and Helena Jansson (SWE). Several runners had the chance to win, but at the end, Andersen was strongest and secured the gold to Norway.

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