With 12 gold, 2 silver and 3 bronze medals, Australia had a blazing presence in the Sprint finals of the World Masters Orienteering Championships 2017, taking place in Auckland, New Zealand. Individually, the highlight goes to Natasha Key, Petteri Muukkonen and Tsvetan Todorov, who defended successfully their world titles achieved in 2016.
The World Masters Orienteering Championships (WMOC), the biggest sport within the 2017 World Masters Games, saw today the first of two finals of its competitive program. One day after the qualifying series, the Sprint final took place at the famous Albert Park, in the heart of Auckland, New Zealand, together with the University City Campus. A total of 1553 competitors took part in the Finals, of which 841 were in the A finals – those giving access to the world titles -, representing 32 countries.
As said before, Australia was the great winner of the day, with its representatives reaching a total of 12 gold medals, six in the men's sector and the same in the women's. Natasha Key and Herrmann Wehner were the stars of the vast array of 114 Aussies in the A Finals, the first one being able to hold the Sprint World Title in the W45 class, reached in August 2016, in Tallin (Estonia), and the second one by achieving the gold in the M90 class. It was still in the W45 class that a podium was completely filled by the colors of Australia, achievement only equated by Sweden in the M80 class.
Australia tops the medal list
Natasha Key was not the only athlete to defend successfully the world title as both Finn Petteri Muukkonen (M40) and Bulgarian Tsvetan Todorov (M50) did so, with the particularity of Todorov's gold being achieved for the third year in a row. Overall, there was 15 countries winning medals in this first Finals, ten of them having achieved gold medals. With 12 gold medals, 2 silver medals and 3 bronze medals, Australia has shown a huge ascendant over the other countries. Following on the top 10 list is Sweden (2 gold medals, 8 silver medals and 3 bronze medals), Norway (2 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze), Finland (1 gold, 1 Silver, and 3 bronze), Bulgaria and Denmark (1 gold and 1 silver each), the United States and Switzerland (1 gold and 2 bronze each), Japan (1 gold and 1 bronze) and the Czech Republic (1 gold medal).
Finally, two or three notes of curiosity. The tightest triumph came at the M35 class, where the Australian Matthew Crane beat the Norwegian Rune Olsen for just 4 seconds. The Czech Jana Hankovska also didn't take it easy in the W75 class, winning over the Russian Liudmila Labutina by the difference of 7 seconds. In the M45 class, the fight for the gold involved three athletes, with the Australian Grant Bluett holding the win with a 10-second lead over the Bulgarian Ivaylo Ivanov and eleven seconds over the Austrian Michael Stockmayer. On the other hand, the widest advantage belonged to the Norwegian Inger Vamnes, in the W80 class, leaving the second-placed New Zealand's Ann Scott at 7:35. The 2:52 advantage of Natasha Key over her compatriot Catherine McComb in the W45 class, or the triumphs of the Australians Sue Haley (W85) and Hermann Wehner (M90), for margins higher than 2 minutes, deserve also a word.
Sprint World Champions
W/M35 – Anna Sheldon (Australia) and Matthew Crane (Australia)
W/M40 – Jo Allison (Australia) and Petteri Muukkonen (Finland)
W/M45 – Natasha Key (Australia) and Grant Bluett (Australia)
W/M50 – Su Yan Tai (Australia) and Tsvetan Todorov (Bulgaria)
W/M55 – Pavlina Brautigan (United States) and Warren Key (Australia)
W/M60 – Jenny Bourne (Australia) and Geoff Lawford (Australia)
W/M65 – Silvia Baumann (Switzerland) and Keld Johnsen (Denmark)
W/M70 – Birgitta Billstam (Sweden) and Greg Chatfield (Australia)
W/M75 – Jana Hankovska (Czech Republic) and Toshio Onoe (Japan)
W/M80 – Inger Vamnes (Norway) and Peo Bengtsson (Sweden)
W/M85 – Sue Healy (Australia) and Paul Forseth (Norway)
Complete results and further information HERE.
[Photo: Malin Fuhr / orienteering.org]