As Moray’s involvement in one of the largest sporting events on the calendar draws to a close, attention is now being turned towards an even larger event in two years time.
By all accounts the Scottish 6-Days Orienteering competition has been a huge success, with even torrential rain failing to dampen the enthusiasm of around 4000 people who attended the opening event in Lossiemouth on Sunday.
Now former World Champion Orienteers Graham Gristwood, Jon Duncan and Jamie Stevenson will today join the Earl of Moray to mark the two year countdown to the 2015 World Orienteering Championships (WOC) in the Scottish Highlands.
John Doune, the Earl of Moray, will also be officially announced as Patron of WOC 2015, while pilots from XV Squadron based at RAF Lossiemouth will show their support with a flypast. The milestone will be marked at the biennial Scottish 6 Days event in Moray, which has been taking place this week with over 3500 competitors from around the world.
In two years time the event will be held in collaboration with WOC under the banner of Highland 2015. That event will attract around 5000 competitors and spectators from around the world and generate a significant economic impact for the local economy.
Ahead of Highland 2015 a project is already underway in Moray to provide local primary and secondary schools with resources to give pupils the opportunity to get involved with orienteering.
Linked to the Curriculum for Excellence, the £16,000 project will boost school-club links, and give young people realistic, stimulating and challenging activities, which will help to enhance the area’s reputation as a destination of choice for the sport.
Paul McGreal, WOC 2015 Event Director said: “With just two years to go until the start of WOC 2015, excitement is building towards what will be a fantastic week of Orienteering.
“Running alongside the established Scottish 6 Days, we have a really strong offering with Highland 2015, which I hope will appeal to the existing orienteering community and newcomers to the sport.”
WOC 2013 silver medallist Scott Fraser said: “Winning silver in Finland was incredible and I am determined to continue the hard work with the aim of going one better at Highland 2015.
“Seeing the support the home athletes had out there was amazing and I know how much of a difference it can make when you’re competing. With WOC 2015 being in my home country is really special, and I’m looking forward to competing against the world in the Scottish terrain and hopefully bringing Gold to Scotland.”
Attending the official launch of Highland 2015 today is Moray’s MSP, Richard Lochhead, who praised organisers for creating the conditions under which many more people will be attracting to the sport.
He said: “It is an honour for Moray to host the Scottish 6 Days event and I hope that the 3500 participants, their families and friends all enjoy their stay in our beautiful part of the country.
“And then we also have Highland 2015 to look forward to when we will see the very best in world orienteering return again to Scotland for their World Championships.
“I’m sure that the Scottish Orienteering Association and British Orienteering will see an uplift of interest in the sport from Moray and throughout the north of Scotland. Whatever happens I am confident that interest in the sport in our part of the world will last long after the completion of this event.”