Poland and Russia the gold medalists in the relay race
Poland and Russia were the best nations on the closing day of the World Military Orienteering Championships 2017 in Hamina.
In the women’s relay, the Polish trio Agata Stankiewicz, Hanna Wisniewska and Aleksandra Hornik surprised everyone by winning the gold medal ahead of Russia. On the last leg, when Hornik overtook Estonia, Poland overtook to lead the race. The pre-race favorite Russia made a big mistake on the second leg and was thus almost two minutes behind the leaders in the last exchange.
The Polish team was the first team to cross the finish line. The last-leg runner Aleksandra Hornik knew that, after the second place in the team competition, Poland had chance to take a medal in the relay. However, Russia seemed to be too strong to be challenged.
- I thought that it would be optimal if we were only two minutes behind Russia after the two legs, but we ended up being two minutes ahead instead! I was quite nervous, yet I still managed to do well in the last leg, said Hornik.
Although Russia had a clear lead after the first leg, Poland together with Estonia and Lithuania overtook Russia in the second leg.
- I never saw Russia in the forest, so I didn’t have any idea that we actually were in front of her, the Polish second-leg runner Wisniewska pointed out.
Hornik’s teammates had some suspenseful moments while waiting for Hornik to arrive in the finish.
- We were shaking! Of course Aleksandra is a very strong orienteer, but she is also still so young. You never know what is going to happen, described Wisniewska and Stankiewicz.
The double champion from the individual distances, Svetlana Mironova lifted Russia up to the silver medal before the bronze team Lithuania.
Novikov the best on the last leg
The men’s relay was exiting until the very end, as in the last leg it was three teams, namely, Poland, Estonia and Russia that went out together.
In the forking part, Leonid Novikov was able to find the controls without making mistakes, while Estonia and Poland faced difficulties, and the Russian held his lead to the finish line. A double champion from the previous races, Timo Sild brought the Estonians to the finish 20 meters behind Russia.
According to Leonid Novikov, the last leg was a tactical race. In the beginning, everyone was running slowly and nobody was willing to lead the group. All this changed when it was time for forking.
- When I understood that I have shorter forking ahead compared to the others, I started to run full speed. I just maintained my pace for the remaining of the race. In the end I made some minor mistakes, but I sustained a gap enough to secure the gold medal, Leonid Novikov said.
Leonid Novikov had some exciting moments in the second to last control. His teammates told him before the race that a difficult control is positioned just before the finish.
- I saw Estonia behind me so I didn’t have time to run slowly and carefully. Yet, I managed to find the control without any difficulties, Novikov said.
The first two legs in the Russian team were run by Dmitrii Nakonechnyi and Valentin Novikov, respectively.
Following behind Russia and Estonia, three teams fought for the bronze. Poland’s Wojciech Kowalski had to let Estonia and Russia go in the earlier part of the course. A strong runner, Kowalski was able to keep the Finnish Miika Kirmula and Austrian Kernot Kerschbaumer behind him in the home stretch with Poland achieving their fourth medal in this year’s WMOC. Finland ended fourth and Austria fifth.
Altogether 60 teams initially started in the relay race.