Switzerland best in the dramatic relay

WOC 2009, Hungary

The fantastic humanity and sportsmanship of the orienteers got confirmed once again today. Switzerland won, while France, Norway and the Czech Republic were helping an injured Swedish runner.

1st leg
Philippe Adamski from France took the control on the big group and was in the lead almost all the time. But it was Dmitry Tsvetkov from Russia who was the first man in the finish, just four seconds ahead of Israel, and five ahead of Norway. The first eight teams were in 26 seconds, while favorites as Finland, Sweden and Switzerland changed over a bit behind.

There were some controversial messages from the event speaker about disqualification of the Russian team, but luckily for them everything was alright.

2nd leg
Valentin Novikov was the first one who managed to break away from the leading group. He had almost two minutes lead out in the forest, but the French Francois Gonon caught him at the end of the course. With a stong finish, Gonon sent Thierry Gueorgiou first out on the last leg.

The Czech Republic and Sweden changed over a minute behind, Norway came two minutes behind.

3rd leg - the drama
Everyone expectet some action on the last leg. With all the best runners in the world running there, everything is possible.

Last year, Thierry Gueorgiou swallowed a bee some controls before the finish and lost the golden position. This year's last leg turned to be an incredible drama.

Andrey Khramov had some big troubles in the start, making an huge mistake on the third control. This gave Thierry Gueorgiou the possibility to take the lead with almost a minute. But not for long - already on the next control he made his mistake, and Martin Johansson from Sweden leaded the second team with a minute.

After some more running, Johansson made his mistake for the day, and we had the leading group : France, Sweden and Norway together. When everybody at the arena thought the battle will be hard and between those three teams, something strange happened.

The leading teams just disappeared from the GPS-tracking and TV-cameras. Matthias Merz and Switzerland were alone in the lead. Andrey Khramov punched the public control as nr.2, and the battle for the bronze was tight between Finland and Latvia.

Baptiste Rollier, Daniel Hubmann and Matthias Merz crossed the finish line as the new World Champions! But the attention moved to the last control: Russia, Finland and Latvia came all together!

Andrey Khramov secured the silver for Russia, and Mats Haldin managed to run a little bit faster than the Latvians, taking the bronze. Incredible performance from Latvia, who secured the fourth places, surprising the world.

Adam Kovacz finished 5th, bringing joy for the home nation. The Polish team finished sixth, beating Ukraine and Italy in the last meters.

While the new champions came to the finish, we got to know what happened with the leading teams. The three leading teams were running together, and Martin Johansson got badly injured. According to the event speaker, he got a stick in his leg.

Thierry Gueorgiou and Anders Nordberg showed themselves as great sportsmen and stopped to help him. Thierry was staying with Johansson, while Nordberg ran to the finish area to bring some help.

Michal Smola from the Czech Republic was the next runner passing through the scene, and he stopped also to help them. What an dramatic event, and what a great sportsmanship from the best orienteers in the world!

Team Fairplay jogging to the finish. Photo: Henning Spjelkavik

The medals are not so important
"I saw Martin, a tough guy, laying there with a wound in his tight" - Thierry said straight after the finish. The three heroes jogged through the course after bringing Johansson to the ambulance.

"We didn't know what to do, but when Michal came we organised the team there" - the Frenchman continues. "That's just sport, it's not so important" - was the answer to the question if they were considering running further or helping.

"It seemed quite serious, with that big stick in the leg" - Anders Nordberg explains.

Martin Johansson is on the way to the hospital now, and according to the event speakers he feels better now. Orienteering.is will be following the case further.


World Orienteering Championship
Miskolc, Hungary
Relay - MEN

1 Switzerland SUI     2:22:48
(Baptiste Rollier - Daniel Hubmann - Matthias Merz)

2 Russia RUS         2:25:12 +2:24
(Dmitry Tsvetkov - Valentin Novikov - ANdrey Khramov)

3 Finland FIN         2:25:14 +2:26
(Topi Anjala - Tero Föhr - Mats Haldin)

4 Latvia LAT         2:25:18 +2:30
(Martins Sirmais - Janis Krumins - Edgars Bertuks)

5 Hungary HUN         2:29:16 +6:28
(Csaba Gosswein - Zsolt Lenkei - Adam Kovacs)

6 Poland POL         2:30:20 +7:32
(Wojciech Dwojak - Robert Banach - Wojciech Kowalski)


WOC 2009 - official website
WorldOfO has a live blog covering the event, and many pictures from the race