In his final individual WOC competition before retiring, Frenchman Thierry Gueorgiou ran a near-perfect race to take his 8th Middle Distance title at Nokian Tyres World Orienteering Championships.
This was a fantastic performance by Gueorgiou, once known as the ‘King of Middle Distance’ because of his string of victories in this format, the last being in 2011. Today’s is his 14th WOC gold; he also won the Long Distance three years in succession, 2013-5. Gueorgiou had some close challengers today but none were able to keep to his technical accuracy which he maintained throughout; he also showed that he has not lost a lot in speed over the years.
Gueorgiou described the day as being very tough emotionally. He has prepared only for this race this year, not competing in any other international race. “This is a dream coming true,” he said at the end, “I wanted to finish on top.”
Silver medal went to Fabian Hertner, Switzerland, who was close to Gueorgiou’s time until he made an error on the short leg to control 17. Oleksandr Kratov, Ukraine ran a very consistent race, just a shade off the pace but good enough for the bronze medal today. Defending champion Matthias Kyburz made mistakes on the course and ended 1.54 down. Norway had all their athletes in the top ten in the results, but out of the podium placings.
Johan Runesson, Sweden had a great run too but had to settle for fourth place, with Sprint champion Daniel Hubmann in fifth. The forest was very detailed and with quite low visibility in places, so mistakes were common.
“It is difficult to compare the medals and I have won many medals in Middle, it is my favourite distance,” said Gueorgiou. “This medal is very special and of course when you become a world champion for the first time it is a life changer. And for me also the Relay medal with my team-mates was special. My plan was to stay focused for the whole race, but also to smile and enjoy the moment.” And that he most certainly did, along with his many friends and admirers throughout the world of orienteering.
WOC 2017 website: www.woc2017.ee.
[Press release from the International Orienteering Federation 2017-07-06. Photo: Matias Salonen, IOF Digital Team]