FORRES DID MORAY and Scotland proud when thousands turned out on the streets of the town to cheer on athletes competing in the World Orienteering Championships last night.
The final of the urban sprint discipline was held in the town on Sunday evening with the finish line set up in Grant Park where local people mingled with the very best in the world – and quickly became ‘experts’ on the technicalities of a sport that had, until now, largely been ignored by media in Scotland.
This time, however, the BBC were present and did a superb job at presenting the sport to a national audience – albeit with most of the commentary in Gaelic! An estimated audience of around two million were thought to have tuned into the final at Forres.
Athletes admitted that the competition itself was tough with home favourite Scott Fraser saying: “I appear to have made a few wrong choices out there – it felt like I had done quite well, but obviously not given my finishing position. It was great though to run in front of a home crowd.”
His team-mate Murray Strain was competing for the final time in a world championships and, like Scott, was disappointed not to finish in the top ten. Murray said: “That was very, very tough going and I’m just sorry to have finished in what was my worse position in any of the world championships I’ve competed in.”
Asked if he would perhaps have second thoughts about the Forres effort being his last, Murray said: “No, that is it for me – I’ve really enjoyed competing in world championships and to go out in front of a home crowd such as this was fantastic.”
In the Women’s race Maja Alm from Denmark took gold while the silver and bronze went to Ukrainian Nadiya Volynska and Galina Vinogradova from the Russian Federation.
Top finisher for the UK athletes was Charlotte Ward in 17th while Alice Leake came in 22nd place over two minutes behind the winner, with Ruth Holmes in 39th place.
Winner of the men’s race was Swede Jonas Leandersson with Martin Hubmann from Switzerland just less than two seconds behind. The bronze medal was won by another Swede, Jerker Lysell. Best of the GB athletes was a delighted Welshman Kristian Jones, who claimed a top-ten finish in eighth place ahead of Fraser (13th) and Strain (18th).
WOC2015 director Paul McGreal said: “We have had incredible support from local people and businesses and the people of Forres were fantastic in their support, for which we thank them.”