World Orienteering Championships sprint qualificatiom heats at Kronvalda parks are over and both fastest 45 men and women are ready for their final battle for medals that is going to take place in Old Riga at 3 p.m.
There were 91 ladies that fought in 3 qualification heats. 15 best from each heat made it to the finals. It is obvious that all the favourites are clearly in. Three times world champion Maja Alm won heat C, she managed to run 3.4 km in 12:12, winning 10 seconds to Anastasia Denisova from Belarus, who was in the fifth position last year. The main Maja`s rival and this year`s World Cup leader Tove Alexandersson, finished in fifth positiom, losing 43 secomds to Maja. Also Amastasia Rudnaya from Russia and Swiss Elena Roos (sixth position in sprint 2017 and silver medalist at WOC2018 selection races in Limbazi) were faster than Tove.
Qualification heat A (3.1 km) was won by Sweden`s Karolin Ohlsson (12:00), followed by Virag Weiler from Hungary and British Megan Carter Davies. Bronze medalist of WOC2017, Russian Galina Vinogradova also made it to the final.
Heat B (3.3km) was convincingly won by World Champiom of 2014 and European Vice Champion 2018 Judith Wyder, who won 36 seconds to Lina Strand from Sweden and 44 seconds to Natalia Gemperle – WOC Vice_Champion of 2017.
A pleasant surprise for fans was Latvia`s Sandra Grosberga, who managed to reach the high 4th position in heat B-12:28! Unfortunately, the two other Latvians – Irita Puķīte was 17th in heat A, missing only 11 seconds, while Līga Valdmane was 19th in heat C, missing 32 seconds.
116 men fought in three qualification heats for men, which was quite tricky, as many of them took a wrong route choice between controls 59 and 43.
As it was expected, main favourites showed their best. The heat (3.5 km)was won by Australia`s Tim Robertson. A real surprise was Ahmet Kacmaz`s second position in this heat. Right behind him ranked Russian Andrey Khramov and two prospective medalists British Kristian Jones (4th WOC2016) and Vojtech Kral (6th WOC2017).
Belgian Yannick Michiels was the fastest in heat B (5th WOC2015), taking victory over Russian Artem Popov and Polish Piotr Parfianowicz whereas one of the main favourites Swiss Daniel Hubmann, World Sprint Champion of 2017 and 2011, took the 5th position.
Heat C was won by Swedish Jonas Leandersson, who beat Czech Milos Nykodym by 10 seconds. Matthias Kyburz fron Switzerland World Champion of 2012 and European Champion of 2018 finished in 5th position.
Latvian Rūdolfs Zērnis finished only a second behind Kyburz, making it to the fināls. Also two other Latvian orienteers – Artūrs Pauliņš (heat A – 10th) and Andris Jubelis (heat B – 8th) are going to take part in the fināls.
Sprint finals are going to take place in one of the Europen architectural pearls – old Riga (Vecrīga). This is the first time in orienteering history when sprint finals are held in a capital city.