World Schools Orienteering Championships
It was in the early hours of the morning when we began our vlog of WSOC 2019. This became the best documentary of our amazing time in Estonia and allowed us to relive all the funny moments. Following an early morning start, 2 flights and a long bus journey an excited team consisting of junior athletes from all over England arrived at Kääriku Spordikeskus accomodation where we would be staying alongside the Finnish, Austrian, Spanish and Beligian (Flanders) teams.
On the first day we travelled to the Arena in hot weather to enjoy a model training day whereby all athletes were allowed to head to the forest to get a feel for the terrain we would be running in for the competitions. Getting used to the vegetation and mapping style of the events, teams spent the day at the arena followed by the opening ceremony with a representative of each nation parading with their flag. This climaxed with he lighting of the torch, marking the start of the competition.
The long distance race was a tiring competition in the heat and sun, through difficult terrain. For me this involved a disappointing run due to large time loss at control 2 which I was unable to recover from. Nevertheless having finished the race me and a few other members of the England team took to a multicultural game of ultimate frisby with the Swedish and Australian teams.
After a tough day of racing we were rewarded with a rest day involving a visit to the Science Centre AHHAA in Tallinn. With plenty of time to enjoy the interactive displays we took this as an opportunity to get to know the other nations, forming particular friendships with the Slovakian team and getting to know our Finnish neighbours from our accommodation better. Soon enough we headed out into the city for an ‘orienteering game’ where we could explore the city whilst completing a quiz. By this point in the week the weather had turned to heavy rain resulting in a team of very wet and hungry orienteers by the end of our walk around the city! Once we had reconvened in the sports hall however our mood was quickly heightened with the prospects of the nation’s night. Here every country had a stand to offer examples of their native country’s cultural specialities and (ofcourse) some maps of their home terrain. This was exciting as everyone mixed, trying out different foods (crowds gathering around the Spanish churros stand) and exchanging bracelets charms and ribbons. As the evening approached it was time to display our patriotism with the traditional morris dancing. A dance that’s trickier than it seems as we tried not to hit each others fingers with our sticks! Particular highlights of the night were the countries where we were called up to join them on the dance floor having watched their traditional native dance.
The next day having formed many friendships already we were back to racing in the middle distance race. This was a fast paced race which suited me well. Unfortunately however I made a 4 minute mistake halfway round the course which was particularly frustrating for me as I found I was only 2 minutes behind the leader. This landed me in 12th position over all. That afternoon, having been adamant to go swimming since day 1 we headed out to the lake at our accomodation. Ofcourse by this point the weather was no longer ideal swimming weather as the temperatures had dropped from the 20+ degrees from the early week to 1°C. With our excuse of ‘its an ice bath’ this didn’t matter to us and we jumped into the lake with (almost) no hesitation. With the Finnish and Australians joining us at the lakeside -but not wanting to join us in the water- it was all laughs when the snow began falling!
Our final day of racing was the friendship relay where we were put into groups of three with individuals of difference ages and different nationalities. For me this meant I was paired with a younger boy from Poland and a girl my age from Slovakia. This event is like a team score event however all members of the team must pass certain check points together at the same time. This was incredibly chaotic but also fun as everyone ran round the town working together to finish as a team.
On the return to the accomodation we were better prepared for the cold weather and booked a sauna to enjoy after our jump into the lake. This was followed by the final team prize giving where we were able to cheer on the Select boys for their winning team effort. The closing ceremony was a great display of Estonian dancers and this ended with the last night party with a live singer (number one in Estonia) playing.
An incredible end to a fantastic week. I think everyone would agree it was truly unforgettable! It seemed by the end of the week almost all the nations new about the ‘England team vlog’- a hilarious collection of videos that I still rewatch now! I made the best friends at WSOC and can’t wait to see them again at EYOC:)
Thanks to help of the Jack Bloor Fund