Scottish Elite
Development Squad

SEDS early season results round up.

Claire Ward JK W21E winner

With the dust now settling after a fantastic JK organized by Scottish Orienteering we now have a chance to look back over the domestic season and celebrate the many successes of SEDS’ athletes after a hard winter’s training.

The elite season kicked off down in York with the British Elite sprint and middle distance championships organized by EBOR. On Saturday morning seven SEDS athletes qualified for the finals on the campus of York University. As always there was some fast and furious racing in the finals and times were close. The men’s race was won by Aberdeenshire based Chris Smithard (DEE), with Oli Johnson (SYO) in second and SEDS athlete Hector Haines (EUOC) taking the bronze medal. In the women’s race every medal would be heading back to Edinburgh, with Cat Taylor (EUOC) taking her first senior British title. Helen Bridle (ESOC) was second with SEDS’ Claire Ward (ESOC) taking the bronze.

Sunday’s middle race offered fast racing over the vague terrain of Strensall Common. The senior women’s race was convincingly won by world champion Linnea Gustafsson (SWE), with Claire Ward finishing in second place on the day and becoming British middle distance champion. The other medals went to familiar faces with Helen Bridle in second and Cat Taylor in third. More medals were won by SEDS on the junior elite courses with Jo Shepherd (INVOC/EUOC) second and Kirstin Maxwell (RR/EUOC) third on W20E, and Chris Galloway (INT) taking the silver medal on M18E.

With two weeks to reflect on the success and improve on the failures it was time for the JK on home terrain. On the mean streets of Livingston Sarah Rollins took yet another sprint victory with SEDS’ Hollie Orr (CLYDE/EUOC) taking a fine second place and Claire Ward once again on the podium in third place. On men’s elite the spectators were treated to an exciting finish with SEDS’ Scott Fraser (INT) and Murray Strain (INT) starting at the back of the field and destroying the leading times laid down before them. Scott took the leading time by 37 seconds,  but Murray Strain went one better, literally, as he beat Scott by a mere 1 second. Kris Jones (ShUOC), the JWOC silver medalist over sprint distance, rounded out the top three. Jamie Stevenson (FVO/EUOC) won M20E by just 3 seconds. Rona Lindsay (ESOC/EUOC) was second on W18E and Chris Galloway third on M18E.

Saturday’s tough and technical middle distance on Dunalistair suited the SEDS athletes. Scott Fraser took an outstanding victory on the men’s elite course, winning by just over 2 minutes from SEDS teammate Mark Nixon (FVO/EUOC) who narrowly beat JK veteran Oli Johnson in third. In the women’s race Linnea Gustafsson showed her class once again to win by nearly two minutes. Claire Ward continued her fantastic season with yet another podium finish in third place. There was even more success for SEDS on the junior elite classes with Rona Lindsay winning W18E, Jamie Stevenson winning M20E, and Jo Shepherd and Kirstin Maxwell finished in second and third on W20E.

A long race on Craig a Barns was always going to be tough and technical, perfect for Scottish orienteers. SEDS athletes dominated both races with Claire Ward winning by three minutes on women’s elite. This was enough to see her overtake Linnea Gustaffson and win W21E overall. Consistent running by Kirstin Maxwell saw her take third place overall on W20E. On men’s elite it was reigning British long champion and King of the Forest Doug Tullie (RR/EUOC) who proved to be toughest, producing a fantastic performance to rescue what would otherwise have been a disappointing season. Scott Fraser was just behind Doug, comfortably taking the overall victory by 4 minutes. Mark Nixon got off to a strong start but faded towards to end, narrowly taking third place on the day by two seconds from Oli Johnson but over 4 minutes down on Doug who climbed into second overall in front of Mark in third. They were just the tip of a 9 man SEDS iceberg in the top 12 on Sunday. Overall SEDS athletes occupied 8 of the top 12 places in M21E and stood on every step of the podium.
It’s been a fantastic spring for many SEDS athletes who are benefitting from the many successful training weekends put on over the winter. Congratulations to all of the medal winners. The stand out performer of the spring has to be Claire Ward, finishing in the top three in both British championships and every day of the JK, not bad for a W35!

British Orienteering will be announcing their selections for the European Youth, Junior World, World Student and European senior championships in the next week. We look forward to seeing many SEDS athletes on the team sheets.

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