After the PreWTOC TrailO Adventure, we had a rest day before we head to the world championships. I went to the city pool again to swim, while Chi Hang, Louis and Sophie also went there as well being attracted by the water slide. However, I didn’t swim a lot – only 2.5 km – as I still hadn’t fully recovered from my illness two days before.
The model event was held on 19 July in Borowice. There were 12 PreO controls and 2 time stations for us to get familiarised with the terrain and the punching system.
The first race was the relay, held in Przesieka. In contrast to previous years, where each teammate could choose any 1/3 of the controls to solve, the relay this year was done in the more traditional form of forking, similar to a FootO relay. There were 3 courses in each class, A, B and C, which were shuffled to each of the teammates. They all shared the same control sites but with different tasks.
Our team was formed by Louis, Chi Hang and me. There were 13 controls on the PreO course which I got 2 mistakes, one was a result of self-doubt and another was a result of poor orienteering ability.
As I was on the 3rd leg, I had to wait until everyone completed the PreO course to do the time stations in reverse standing order, which was the spectator station as well.
We were very close to the Great Britain team but unfortunately, when the final score was published, we lost them by 62 seconds, however we won the Japan team by 38 seconds. Our final ranking was the 18th team out of 21 teams, with Czechia being this year’s winner.
The TempO race was held on the next day in Przesieka as well, the same venue as the relay. The qualification race was divided into 2 parallel heats, A and B, with the top 18 from each qualified for the final. I was allocated to heat A.
There were 6 stations where my strategy was to answer them as fast as possible, as long as I saw the flag was placed to the place which looked like where the circle should be. This strategy helped me to obtain good scores a few years ago, in 2018 and 2019.
I tried to answer the 5 tasks at each station within 30 seconds. However, I couldn’t handle the terrain at all. I had basically no idea what the map was about at every station. Out of the 30 tasks, I could only answer half of them correct – all correct at station 4 while all wrong at station 1, while the best orienteer in the world got them all correct.
As a result, I was the worst among the 3 Hongkongers (Chi Hang, Louis and me) in my heat, 615 seconds and the 47th place. No Hongkongers in any heats qualified for the final. I got 8.45 WRE score in this TempO, much worse than Falco Cup this year and my races in 2019.
After the TempO race, the next race was PreO 1. It was held also in Przesieka, but in another venue.
There were 40 controls in 2 separate parts, with the time stations in between. Most controls were set on rock features which I had completely no idea how I could do them. The strategies I used in earlier years in Lithuania and Latvia didn’t work at all, which mainly included pace counting, sighting lines (my favourite – check the control site at two different angles and the answer would be obvious), compass bearing, etc. Many sites could only be seen at a single viewing point which I couldn’t use these kinds of strategies at all.
I only got 25 out of 40 correct, 98th out of 108 participants and the 3rd among my teammates. I had completely no idea what I did wrong even after I got the solution sheet, as I couldn’t even recognise the features at all. I didn’t get an in-range WRE score, as the result was too bad which fell beyond 15.00.
The second day of PreO racing, PreO 2, was held in Jagniątków. There were only 1 section with 33 controls. However, I again had the same difficulties in understanding the map, and it was again mainly rock features that I performed even worse than the first day, getting only 19 correct out of 33 controls, and the worst among all Hong Kong team members, at the 105th place out of 108 participants, without an in-range WRE score as well. We had the banquet in the evening afterwards.
We returned to Wrocław the day after and returned the car. I and Louis left the country on the same day. I returned to my UK home while Louis went to Sweden to participate in the O-Ringen. The remaining team members stayed for 2 more nights before returning back to Hong Kong.
This was my worst international race since I started doing trail orienteering. I performed badly and couldn’t even understand the solution map at all. All my previous strategies, such as compass bearing, sighting lines, pace counting, etc. failed to work at all. Furthermore, despite having limited orienteering experience, Louis got much better result than me in the race, and he has already got close to me in terms of world ranking. I’m afraid that I may no longer be the best Hong Kong trail orienteer, and I will definitely need coaching to improve my orienteering skills. In the future I don’t think I can gain much in participating the world championships unless I can improve my orienteering ability beforehand, and I think I may instead do more world ranking events instead to have exposure to different terrains.