After almost a week of competition, two Yukoners wrapped up the Junior World Orienteering Championship in Primiero, Italy last weekend with top-50 results.
Racing on Team Canada’s relay teams Whitehorse’s Colin Abbott finished his leg of the race 38th, helping Canada 1 reach 40th. Whitehorse’s Lee Hawkings, racing on Canada 2, produced a 40th-place finish to propel his relay team to 42nd.
“Even before they went over there, I was really pleased because I knew they had improved a lot,” said Orienteering Yukon head coach Brent Langbakk. “But it’s always nice when you take the gains of training and apply them to the race situation and they did a good job of that.
“I’m very proud.”
Prior to the relay events, Abbott and Hawkings completed the final individual event of the championships, the middle-distance race.
For the third-straight event Abbott finished in the top 100, taking 39th in the B finals (99th overall).
“It’s another top-100 result, so it was another solid run for him,” said Langbakk.
Unlike in the two previous individual events, Abbott was not the top North American in the event, with Canada’s Graeme Rennie finishing 12 spots up in 27th (87th overall).
“That was good for Canada to have another person do so well,” said Langbakk.
Racing in the middle-distance’s C finals, Hawkings came in 13th (133rd overall). Only the middle-distance event had A, B, and C divisions.
“They partly do this for a couple reasons,” said Langbakk. “First the middle-distance is very technical and so if you don’t have them broken up you have a bunching of people, so they tend to do heats first and then a final. It is also to prepared them for other international competitions, this format of qualifying heats at the senior level.
“It was probably Lee’s best run (at the Worlds). He was still feeling a bit under the weather, but I think he was pleased with how he performed in the last one.”
Showing great leaps in improvement over last year’s Junior Worlds in Sweden, Abbott was the top North American after three days of competition. Abbott began with a 75th place in the short-distance event, up from 168th from last year in Sweden.
In the following long-distance event Abbott finished 95th on the “most technically challenging” course he has ever faced. He then qualified for the middle-distance race in the 35th place spot.
“Confidence is likely the biggest thing that allowed me to improve so much this year,” said Abbott in an e-mail to the News last week. “I have more races under my belt; I knew what I needed to do and I didn’t panic in pressing situations.”
Hawkings also showed improvements since Sweden despite battling an illness during the opening events.
Hawkings finished 139th in the short-distance course (up from 148th last year) and 132nd in the long.
“I’m not too sure how to explain my improved results this year,” said Hawkings in an e-mail. “My time here at Junior Worlds is not going that well mainly because I am just starting to get over the sickness I seemed to have picked up on the way here.
“I had a few couple minutes of mistakes on the sprint, but I didn’t feel great running. The map was really technical, but my mistakes came on the easier parts because I lost focus.”
Abbott has one more year of eligibility in the juniors and Hawkings has two, so they will likely be returning for next year’s Junior Worlds being held in Denmark.
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