Scottish Gold gleams in the Dolomite sunshine

Report of the 2011 World Schools Orienteering Championships

Posted: 2nd Jun 2011

A fantastic gold medal winning run for Banchory Academy's Jennifer Ricketts was the highlight of a highly successful World Schools Championship for Scotland.

This year's event was hosted by the community of Trentino in Northern Italy on the areas that hosted the JWOC runs in 2009.
It was very obvious from the team's arrival in Transaqua that this was going to be a very special event with the whole town decked out in orange and white to welcome the 600 orienteering competitors from 23 delegations.

Although participation is dominated by European nations a global feel was added by the runners from China, Israel and New Zealand.

This year the Scottish Team had a good spread of students representing: Aboyne, Banchory, Biggar, Boroughmuir and Charleston.

The training day dawned with bright sunshine and high temperatures that were to stay for the entire Championships and the Team set off early to sample the Italian terrain. Several were surprised to discover that there were many similarities to Highland terrain with steep slopes, mixed visibility and lots of rock features.

In the evening the Opening ceremony was held in the town square which was reached by parading through the streets of the pedestrian area. Large crowds greeted the teams and many photographs were taken of the Scottish team fully kitted out in kilts and led by Brad Arthur, Alistair Walker and Jackie Riley on the bagpipes. A huge cheer greeted the team as they entered the arena to Scotland The Brave.

Typically for these events the programme lasted too long with several speeches and five different groups providing entertainment, including a live performance of a chart song which was established as the Championship theme tune - "Running, running". Every moment was captured by the film crew who were to follow every aspect of the Championship and relayed onto the giant screen.

The highlight from a Scottish viewpoint came right at the end when Iain Campbell did a very professional job of delivering the Oath on behalf of the competitors - only the second time a Scot has been selected for this honour.

Race Day 1 - Long Distance

The action moved further up the Val Cannali to Cistri for the long distance race and the Team's first encounter with major event conditions. Following a short bus trip each delegation established a holding area before sending their athletes in turn to the warm up area and then onto the start.
The coaching team were designated to various roles to accompany the athletes through each phase.

First off was Brad from Aboyne followed in the first start block by Kirsten, Sasha and Maddy. Jackie was stationed at the finish to greet the runners. After an anxious wait Sasha, closely followed by Brad ran towards the final control and then up the run-in to be noisily greeted by Jackie and the large group of Kiwi parents who accompanied their squad.
In a day of mixed fortunes, Jennifer Rickett's early run to top the leader board gave the whole team a lift and led to a very anxious couple of hours. Jennifer knew that there were some very strong runners out behind her and so it proved with first one, then two and then finally Brianna Massie of New Zealand crossing the line with slightly quicker times to move her down to a very creditable fourth place and a spot on the podium. A smiling Jennifer lit up the stage in the town square in the evening as she accepted her certificate.

Cultural Day - Rosetta

The ISF Championships include a full Social and Cultural programme designed to encourage competitors to see their hosts' country and to encourage teams to mix and learn about each others traditions.

This year the teams were encouraged to discover the Dolomites, this involved a 2 part tour. In the morning the Scots accompanied by France took a chair lift and then a cable car to just below the summit of Cima Rosetta at 2700m. The final climb on foot was in glorious alpine conditions accompanied by the most magnificent views of the surrounding peaks and valleys.

In the afternoon we were "treated" to a walk around a forest trail, brightened only by the excellent translation provided by Connor, the Italian speaking coach of the Irish Squad.
In the evening the Scots gained the upper sporting hand over New Zealand on one of the villages (pop approx 2500) two 3G pitches.

Race Day 2 - Middle Distance

The overcast early morning skies disguised what was to be the warmest day of the Championships and also the day that saw a Scot stay at the top of the leader board. Start blocks remained the same but start times were altered within the allocated 30 minute slot. Sasha was first to finish and but for a single control, would have been high on the leader board. The other starters from the first block all made their way home mainly with much improved times.

Then the announcement from the radio control that a new leader was approaching the last control, Jennifer Ricketts, Escozia. A final sprint up the run-in and she punched in 17.03, described by the commentators as a "clear and significant lead". For the second time the whole team had an anxious wait ahead, only relieved by the excellent finish of Bronwyn Matthews taking her to a podium position.

As potential winners fell by the wayside the announcer decided to up the ante by announcing that Rachel Emmerson who had won silver in the Long Distance race had 2.5 minutes left to take the lead. Two minutes,… 1.5 minutes, 1 minute, the seconds seemed to last forever as the whole team looked towards the last control. 10 seconds to go and we could all breath again as she had not appeared on the 100 m run in.

Who else was still out there with the chance to spoil Jennifer's big day. Just as we remembered that it was the New Zealand girl who knocked her out of the medals before the NZ coach came over to congratulate Jennifer as they knew their runner couldn't match her time.

A further wait of around 20 minutes before the announcer told us that it was official- Jennifer Ricketts — World Champion and further great news that Bronwyn had maintained her position with a podium placing of 6th and there were excellent Middle Distance runs from Callum and Luke to boost the spirit of their team.

There were great celebrations in the Square that evening for both prize winning girls, with Jennifer being carried shoulder high to the podium to the skirl of the pipes.

The presentations were witnessed by the largest crowds of the week as the whole town had turned out to join in on the cultural evening that accompanied the ceremonies where each country took its turn to perform on stage.

This year Scotland performed a Highland Fling and a Dashing White Sergeant to loud applause.

Friendship Team Race

A unique feature of these Championships is the final race, a mass start team score event.

Teams are selected to give a mix of ability (based on the long race) and nationalities. They are given 45 mins to devise a strategy so that each control is visited by one of the team members and that they all meet at three designated points in the forest. Get it wrong and you can stand around for a long time! Best of the Scots was Matthew Galloway who's team finished in 6th place and for the second championship in a row Kate Robertson gained a top 3 finish in the coaches race.

The end of the Friendship race sees the traditional swapping of kit. Several of the team seem to be excellent hagglers so don't be surprised if you are passed in the forest by a familiar face in a: Spanish, Italian or Slovakian top!

There was yet further good news in the evening as it was confirmed that the Banchory Team of: Jennifer, Evelyn Mason, Megan Getliff and Kirsten Brown had won the bronze medal in the overall team competition based on their combined times from both races. Cue further celebrations!

Thankfully the hosts learned from experience and the closing ceremony saw the speeches shortened to allow the party to begin.

A late finish and an early start (5.00 am) saw an exhausted but excited squad arrive back at Edinburgh Airport with only one thing on their mind — see you in Portugal 2013!

The Scottish Team would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who supported their efforts to prepare and participate in the WSCO 2011 and particularly:

Blair Young

Head of Scottish Delegation

The Teams

D2 Girls School Team (Banchory Academy): Jennifer Rickets, Kirsten Brown, Megan Getliff and Evelyn Mason

W2 Girls Select Team: Bronwyn Matthews, Maddy Tonner, Jessica Stuart and Cara McMurtrie

M2 Boys School Team (Aboyne Academy): Brad Arthur, Alistair Walker, Ian Johnson, Oliver Ford-Bryant and Iain Campbell

M2 Boys Select Team: Callum White, Luke Foss, Sasha Chepelin, Matthew Galloway and Matthew Murray


World Schools Orienteering 2011 website For results, photos etc.

Article about the selection policies, background, history etc.

Article about the 2011 event on the MAROC website

Summary of results on the Scottish Orienteering website


Scottish Schoolsport Federation logo

International Schoolsport Federation logo

Scottish Orienteering logo

British Schools logo