Miika Kirmula in Men class and Sina Tommer and Sara Hagström, ex-aequo, in Women class, got the gold at Middle Distance Final A, winning the last of the individual titles of the Junior World Orienteering Championships JWOC 2014. Kirmula and Tommer offered to Finland and Switzerland, respectively, the first gold in these World Championships, while Sara Hagström confirmed its extraordinary value, being crowned the “queen” of the Championships.
After the qualifying heats held yesterday, the JWOC 2014 returned to the map of Zheleznica for a very technical Middle Distance Final. Sixty men and as much women, representing twenty-five countries, competed in the Final A, fighting for the last individual titles of the competition. Out of the fight for the medals were some big names such as the Swedish Assar Hellstrom, the Danish Thor Nørskov, the Belgian Tristan Bloemen, the New Zealander Tim Robertson, the Finnish Anna Haataja and the Norwegian Heidi Mårtensson, among others. Outside also, the four Portuguese athletes, with Luis Silva loosing the Final A by finishing in 21st position, 14 seconds behind the Ukrainian Yuriy Badan, ranked 20th in 1st Qualifying Heat.
Sweden with eleven athletes, Finland with ten, and Denmark, Russia and Switzerland, all with nine athletes, were in the “pole position” for the conquest of the places of honour, but it was the Italian Riccardo Scalet to give the first big note of sensation in Men Final A, reaching very early the best time with 30:19 to 3,8 km of his course, in a moment when twenty-one athletes (!) hadn't started yet. Firstly the New Zealander Nick Hann, then the Austrian Xander Berger and, almost an hour later, the Finnish Olli Ojanaho, were threatening the place of the Italian, still sat on the “throne”, stoically controlling the growing anxiety whenever other athlete crossed the finish line. Until... Miika Kirmula, the Finnish who was second placed in his qualifying heat and, therefore, the penultimate to start, finally hit Scalet's time, establishing the extraordinary record of 28:58 and giving Finland the first gold medal in these Championships. With the silver medal, Riccardo Scalet makes history as the first Italian athlete to reach the podium at the Junior World Orienteering Championships.
The story of Final A in Women class has very similar contours but – how to say? - even more “exquisite”. Classified in the penultimate position at yesterday's qualifying heats, the Swiss Sina Tommer was the sixth athlete to start ... and the first to finish (!). The time of 28:43 to 3,1 km of her course was undoubtedly excellent, but the organization had estimated 25 minutes to the winner and 59 (!) athletes hadn't finished yet. A very long wait, indeed! The truth is that the time elapsed, elapsed, elapsed and... one hour and forty-four minutes later, arrived the Swedish Sara Hagström with a time of 28:43, equaling Tommer's one. It didn't take much longer to realize that the last two athletes to start, the Danish Cecilie Friberg Klysner and the Swedish Johanna Oberg were out of the medals. The victory ex-aequo of Sina Tommer and Sara Hagström - something that happens for the first time in the women's sector in 25 editions of JWOC - was accomplished. Switzerland gets its first gold medal in these World Championships, while Sara Hagström sums to the gold in Sprint and silver in Long Distance, another gold, now in Middle Distance, achieving the second-best individual performance ever in the Junior World Orienteering Championships, behind the Danish Ida Bobach that, in 2011, won everything there was to win.
1. Miika Kirmula (Finland) 28:58
2. Riccardo Scalet (Italy) 30:19 (+ 01:21)
3. Olli Ojanaho (Finland) 30:29 (+ 01:31)
4. Xander Berger (Austria) 30:44 (+ 01:46)
5. Nick Hann (New Zealand) 30:47 (+ 01:49)
6. Jonas Egger (Switzerland) 30:50 (+ 01:52)
7. Konstantin Serebryanitsk (Russia) 31.33 (+ 02:35)
8. Rudolfs Zernis (Latvia) 31:36 (+ 02:38)
9. Dmitry Naumov (Russia) 32:02 (+ 03:04)
10. Nicolas Rio (France) 32:12 (+ 03:14)
1. Sara Hagström (Sweden) 28:43
1. Sina Tommer (Switzerland) 28:43 (+ 00:00)
3. Andrea Svensson (Sweden) 29:56 (+ 01:13)
4. Tilda Johansson (Sweden) 30:01 (+ 01:18)
5. Gunvor Hov Høydal (Norway) 30:13 (+ 01:30)
6. Zoe Harding (UK) 30:53 (+ 02:10)
7. Emmi Jokela (Finland) 31:58 (+ 03:15)
8. Miri Thrane Ødum (Denmark) 32:28 (+ 03:45)
9. Sandrine Mueller (Switzerland) 32:33 (+ 03:50)
9. Jannina Gustafsson (Finland) 32:33 (+ 03:50)
More informations and complete results at http://jwoc2014.bg/.
[Photo: JWOC 2014 Bulgaria | Junior World Orienteering Championships 2014 / facebook.com/jwoc2014]