Daniel Hubmann is the new World Champion of Middle Distance. In the Final held today at Darnaway, Scotland, the Swiss was the strongest, beating Lucas Basset and Olle Bostrom by narrow margin. In the women class, few dare predicted the second world title in a row for Annika Billstam, duly followed by Merja Rantanen and Emma Johansson.
The Scottish town of Darnaway staged the third big moment of the World Orienteering Championships WOC 2015. With a set of extraordinary and equilibrate values, the dispute for Middle Distance titles promised a bitter struggle. In the men class, the French Thierry Gueorgiou was looking forward to assert his title of “King of the Middle Distance”, after winning for seven times the gold medal, between 2003 and 2011. But the concurrence was powerful, beginning by the Swiss Daniel Hubmann and his legitimate ambition to achieve the only individual medal that was missing in his curriculum. But there was also the Swedish Gustav Bergman, the Swiss Fabian Hertner and Matthias Kyburz, the Ukrainian Oleksandr Kratov and, of course, the Norwegian Olav Lundanes, here defending the world title achieved in Italy.
In the Women class, the picture was no different. Eager to “recover the lost time”, the Finnish Minna Kauppi and the Swedish Helena Jansson appeared in the frontline for the gold. The Danish Ida Bobach and the Ukrainian Nadiya Volynska were also athletes to be taken into account. Then there was the British Catherine Taylor, playing home and eager to give a cheer to her supporters. Not to forget, of course, the Swedish Annika Billstam, current World Champion.
The "bis" of Annika Billstam
The program opened precisely with the women's final, which lined a set of 72 athletes. The bills began to be made with the arrival of the Swedish Emma Johansson, registering the time of 37:04 to 5.3 km of her course and then taking the lead. At that time, the Portuguese Mariana Moreira had finished her race, spending 49:30 and ensuring, right there, the best result ever of a Portuguese in this distance in a World Championships, translated on the 49th place in the end. Also it would be possible to realize that Catherine Taylor, then in the second place, had to go more than half an hour of waiting time (read “suffering”) to see if she was able, or not, to guaranty a place in the top six.
However the Finnish Merja Rantanen ends her course, being the first athlete to break the barrier of 37 minutes. With the 5th place achieved in the 2009 World Championships (Miskolc, Hungary) as her best result ever in the distance, the Finnish almost guarantees a medal. But Billstam is absolutely unstoppable, leading her race to the end and finishing with a time of 35:46, which guarantees her second world title in a row at this distance (the third of her career, considering the world title in Sprint achieved in 2011, in France). Rantanen won the silver medal and Emma Johansson arrived, also surprisingly, to the bronze medal. The Danish Ida Bobach finished a few seconds after Annika Billstam, occupying the fourth position. Catherine Taylor and Nadiya Volynska closed the podium by this order.
Hubmann after Lundanes
As in women, the first big note in the men's race came close to the end, at a time when already all athletes had left, and from those, 53 gave for completed their performances. By then, the Norwegian Magne Daehli had a time of 34:49 (he was the first athlete below the 35 minutes' barrier), but his lead lasted just two minutes and a half, since the French Lucas Basset have beaten this time by a margin of 23 seconds. The intermediate times recorded, however, allowed to realize that both Daehli as Basset could aspire to the podium, but the concurrence was coming and gave bi the names of Fabian Hertner, Daniel Hubmann, Matthias Kyburz, Olav Lundanes, Thierry Gueorgiou and ... Olle Bostrom! Indeed, the latter recorded 34:36 and stood in the second place behind Basset, but Daniel Hubmann is also finishing and his time of 34:23 throws him to the first place. Thierry Gueorgiou has precisely three minutes from now to complete his course if he even want to aspire to the gold medal.
The last controls show Gueorgiou to lose seconds after seconds, concluding with a time of 35:09, which was worth to him the 5th position. Kyburz? Kratov? Lundanes? Hertner? Some of them will be able to beat Daniel Hubmann, stealing the gold medal? Hertner was in this quartet, the first to arrive; but the final time of 34:58 only guarantees the 5th position. Kratov did even worse, with a timr of 35:08, though enough for a place on the podium. As for Lundanes and Kyburz, they ended up losing a lot of time and getting off the podium. As for the Portuguese Tiago Romao, his result has to be considered excellent, registering the time of 42:21 and the 47th place in the end.
1. Daniel Hubmann (Switzerland) 34:23 (+ 0:00)
2. Lucas Basset (France) 34:26 (+ 0:03)
3. Olle Bostrom (Sweden) 34:36 (+ 00:13)
4. Magne Daehli (Norway) 34:49 (+ 00:26)
5. Fabian Hertner (Switzerland) 34:58 (+ 00:35)
6. Oleksandr Kratov (Ukraine) 35:08 (+ 00:45)
7. Thierry Gueorgiou (France) 35:09 (+ 00:46)
8. Olav Lundanes (Norway) 35:53 (+ 01:30)
9. Jan Sedivy (Czech Republic) 36:01 (+ 01:38)
10. Jan Prochazka (Czech Republic) 36:08 (+ 01:45)
10. Haines Hector (Great Britain) 36:08 (+ 01:45)
47. Tiago Romao (Portugal) 42:21 (+ 07:58)
1. Annika Billstam (Sweden) 35:46 (+ 00:00)
2. Merja Rantanen (Finland) 36:36 (+ 00:50)
3. Emma Johansson (Sweden) 37:04 (+ 01:18)
4. Ida Bobach (Denmark) 37:32 (+ 01:46)
5. Catherine Taylor (Great Britain) 37:45 (01:59 +)
6. Nadiya Volynska (Ukraine) 37:54 (+ 02:08)
7. Sara Luescher (Switzerland) 38:13 (+ 2:27)
8. Helena Jansson (Sweden) 38:25 (+ 02:39)
9. Jana Knapova (Czech Republic) 38:45 (+ 02:59)
10. Mari Fasting (Norway) 39:09 (+ 03:23)
49. Mariana Moreira (Portugal) 49:30 (+ 13:44)
Complete results and further information at www.woc2015.org.
[Photo: WorldofO / facebook.com/WorldofO]