Yukon orienteerers show improvement at Worlds

There's no good time for bad luck, but some times are worse than others. Just ask Lee Hawkings.

There’s no good time for bad luck, but some times are worse than others. Just ask Lee Hawkings.

Hawkings, 18, and fellow Yukoner Colin Abbott, 19, finished the first phase of the Junior World Orienteering Championships in Primiero, Italy, on Monday as part of Team Canada.

After spending a year preparing for the event, Hawkings is now forced to compete while racked with illness.

“It means that I haven’t been able to push that hard,” said Hawkings in an e-mail to the News. “I’ve had trouble focusing on the map reading because it hurts my throat to run hard.”

Despite Hawkings’ illness, both he and Abbott improved over their results from last year’s Junior Worlds in Goteborg, Sweden.

In Monday’s sprint distance event, Abbott achieved his goal of breaking the top 100, finishing the 3.1-kilometre urban course in 75th, up from last year’s 168th-place result in the sprint.

Hawkings moved up from last year’s 148th-place finish to 139th out of 170 competitors.

“I feel really bad for Lee because he’s really struggling out there,” said Hawkings and Abbott’s coach Brent Langbakk. “Just the fact that he’s equalling or doing better than last year shows how much he’s improved technically.”

“I had a couple minutes of mistakes on the sprint and I didn’t feel great running,” said Hawkings. “The map was really technical, but my mistakes came on the easier parts because I lost focus.”

The Junior Worlds continued on Tuesday with the long-distance event. Hawkings continuing to move up with a 132nd-place finish and Abbott again cracked the top 100 coming in 95th, which makes him the top North American finisher for the second day in a row.

“The main thing is they are getting better and they’ve shown that,” said Langbakk. “I’m just really happy for them.”

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com