Danielle at The World Juniors

Thames High School student Danielle Goodhall is back after six weeks in Europe, where she represented New Zealand in some of the world’s top orienteering competitions. Here’s her account of an amazing trip:


After nearly two days of traveling, our group from the Auckland region finally arrived in Copenhagen, Denmark. We stayed in a small town named Lund in Sweden, a 20 minute train ride north of Copenhagen.
We spent the week traveling between Denmark and Sweden, touring in the beautiful town Lund, and the cities of Malmö and Copenhagen. The beauty of the cities took my breath away, with every street looking just as beautiful as the last. The small group of us did our first training here, on a sprint map west of where we were staying, one of the best sprint maps I had done yet!
I then travelled to Oslo, Norway where I meet the rest of the New Zealand team. We spent two days touring the city, including seeing the painting “The Scream” by Edvard Munch, which was a highlight for me. We also did sprint training at Akersus Castle, which was an awesome way to look around the castle, and do a very different type of sprint to what we get in New Zealand!
Our team then travelled east of Oslo into the Fjords, to a small community called Rauland. This was where the Junior World Orienteering Champs were centred. We stayed in the athletes’ village, which over their winter is a ski resort. All 46 countries competing were accommodated here, with each country having their own lodge. We spent a week in Rauland, training and adjusting to the different terrain before the first race. What intrigued me was the large number of orienteers in this small community – only 800 people live here and 650 are part of the local orienteering club.  For me, this was a clear reflection of the high level of competition in European orienteering.
The race week started off with the sprint event in a small town named Åmot. My run did not go as well as hoped. The race atmosphere and pressure of racing alongside orienteers I highly look up to was not anything I was used to. I finished 96th.  While this was not the result I was hoping for, I really enjoyed the experience and felt that the race was a massive learning step for my next four years in the competition. New Zealand had a win on this day, with Tim Robertson winning the males’ division for the second year in a row. The year before his first win, he earned bronze. This makes him one of the most successful male sprint orienteers in the world! Only one other New Zealander has ever won a title at an international orienteering event.
The following day was the middle qualification held in a forest near Rauland. The terrain was spectacular, very different to anything in New Zealand. My race was better than the preceding days, with just one mistake, leading me to miss out on the first final by few places, qualifying for the second of three finals. The next day we had the middle final, yet another forest within 10 minutes of where we were staying. I headed into the race with a lot more confidence and belief than my previous races, and had my best run yet. I came third in this final which I was very happy with!
After a rest day, we had the long event, my favourite of the disciplines. While this was my favourite, I was quite physically disadvantaged as most athletes were five years older than me. The terrain again was tough, the courses were long, and I really enjoyed it! My run went well and I finished 53rd, which I was happy with.

Two New Zealand boys placed in the top 10. New Zealand was one of three countries to have two athletes in the top ten. The others were  Sweden and Norway – the best orienteering nations in the world.
The last day was the relay. We had two male and two female teams with three people in each. I was in the top female team, which was my goal and I was proud to be selected. I ran the first leg, which meant I was in a mass start with some of the fastest runners in each team! I was very happy with my run and came in 8th, my best result yet.

Our team finished 11th which we were all very happy with. The race atmosphere was amazing and like no other relay I had competed in before. Overall the competition was truly spectacular, and I am looking forward to future years in the competition.

Once the competition finished, a small group of us travelled to Sweden, to a town north of Stockholm named Uppsala. We spent the week training and preparing ourselves yet again for another big competition named O-ringen, the world’s biggest orienteering event.

Here we trained each day on various maps, including the best orienteering map in the world. We travelled to Borås, a small town just north of Gothenburg for this competition, where we camped at the event village with the 25,000 other competitors.
The competition consisted of five stages. All times are added to find the winner. In my grade alone – women’s 16 – there were 200 competitors, including the world’s best orienteers in my age group. The event was one of a kind, to have so many people gathered for one orienteering event, with constant streams of people finishing between 8am to 2pm.

I came out with a 14th, 6th, 20th, 6th, before heading into the final stage. By this point I was placed 9th overall, a mere 1 minute from 6th place. However, on the final day I woke up very sick, leading to me to drop 5 places to 14th. I was really pleased with my result otherwise, due to this reason being out of my control. This event was truly amazing, and was awesome to see some many orienteers in one event.
After this I headed home, feeling very satisfied and with a lot more experience! I am super excited for yet another hard year of training, before heading to this competition once again, this time in Switzerland!