All Change at the Top Cop Shop

by Steven Scott — 18th November 2019.

2019 Dinner Dance 2019 Dinner Dance

There was a changing of the guard in the 2019 FVO Club Championships, run in the woods behind the headquarters of Scottish Police at Tulliallan, Fife, with no fewer than eight of the twelve class winners being first-time champions.

More than 60 athletes came out on a crisp Autumn morning to test themselves on courses planned by 2018 SuperVet champion Mark Holliday, and there were close run contests in many of the divisions.

The strength in depth of the FVO racing stable was clearly demonstrated in the Open classes. Both Chris Smithard (14th in the Sprint in 2017) and Ana Trubkina (15th in the Middle in 2012) have achieved top 20 finishes in the World Championships, but neither has been FVO champion before.

This was rectified in some style, with Chris pulling away in the latter stages of the race to record a 27 second winning margin over Lewis Taylor, finishing in 32.27, while Ana's victory was more clear-cut, 5 1/2 minutes over defending champion Fiona Berrow (37.52).

The Womens Veteran champion is Gillian Godfree, who doesn't orienteer much any more but, also of ex-GB squad royalty, still had the necessary tools in her locker to record a finish of 24.05 for her first-ever club championship win, 23 seconds ahead of Kirsty Bryan-Jones.

Dave Godfree opened the event up with a strong run of 28.01, which looked good enough to take the win, only for Will Hensman, as the last starter, to dart in with a time just five seconds quicker, annexing his first Veteran Mens title, albeit in his first year of eligibility.

Gary Longhurst was also a first-time winner, in his first year as a SuperVet, scoring an impressive time of 23.27, while Lindsey Hensman broke the club record for consecutive wins in an age division, which she formerly shared with Val Finch, winning her 5th straight SuperVet womens title in 32.31.

The competition was just as close amongst the junior athletes. Jamie Goddard is the new Senior Boys champion, with a time of 19.39 good enough to hold off a spirited charge from James Hammond, who is still eligible to run in the intermediate division in 2020. The victory means that Jamie has now held the club champion title in every junior age division, a first since the introduction of a separate Under 10 class in 2011.

One athlete new to the top of the podium though was Ellen Patton, whose residence in England means that she doesn't get the chance often to race against the club's other junior stars, but a nerveless run, on her first look at the area, and finish of 22.19, was good enough to make her Senior Girls champ for 2019.

In the Intermediate division, there were two new champions, as Jamie Connor (15.00) and Katie Hensman (19.54) came out on top of the pile. The list of former winners at this level is a star-studded one, with many having gone on to international representation, so this could be an early indicator that the FVO conveyor belt of talent is still producing quality juniors.

Eilidh Connor ran well in the Junior Girls race, leading from start to finish, and coming home in 16.18 for a debut title, while there was no messing about from Matthew Inman, who recorded the quickest time of the day (10.59) to retain his Junior Boys title.

The champions were presented with their trophies at the Awards Dinner later that evening, with nearly 100 members and friends assembling at Dunblane's Victoria Halls to honour yet another dazzling season.

Club captain Jon Cross was Master of Ceremonies, and apologised in advance for time constraints meaning that it wouldn't be possible to re-present every national champion with their trophy, as is done in several other clubs on Awards Night.

And that's fair enough - in 2019, FVO athletes won a quite staggering 87 titles at either Scottish or British level, with a further 95 getting on the podium. In the Scottish Orienteering League, there were nine class winners and another 23 in top three positions, and even in the Scottish Urban League (seen by many as the "poor sister" of the sport), there were 14 athletes on the podium, including four class winners. To present all these awards would take a bigger trophy table than is currently available.

However, the trophy winners from the three FVO evening series were acknowledged, with the Sprint champions at last getting equal recognition with the winners of the Night and WEE series, and awards were also made to the top performers in the Scottish Six Days Event.

Trophy winners as follows:

Competition Class Name
Junior Champion Boys Matthew Inman
Girls Eilidh Connor
Intermediate Champion Boys Jamie Connor
Girls Katie Hensman
Senior Champion Boys Jamie Goddard
Girls Ellen Patton
Open Champion Men Chris Smithard
Women Ana Trubkina
Veteran Champion Men Will Hensman
Women Gillian Godfree
SuperVet Champion Men Gary Longhurst
Women Lindsey Hensman
Night Champion Mens Long Graham Gristwood
Womens Long Fanni Gyurko
Mens Short Mark Holliday
Womens Short Laura Hindle
WEE Champion Mens Long Jamie Stevenson
Womens Long Beccy Osborn
Junior Men James Hammond
Junior Womens Heidi Elise Eik-Maxwell
Mens Medium Jamie Connor
Womens Medium Rebecca Hammond
Mens Short Louis Chapoy
Womens Short Eilidh Connor
Sprint Champion Mens Long Pierre Lardet
Womens Long Rachel Hendrie
Mens Short Sam Hunt
Womens Short Rebecca Hammond
Six Days Best Junior James Hammond
Best Senior Chris Smithard
Best Veteran Will Hensman
Run-in Competition Duncan Barker

The main awards of the evening brought proceedings to a close. The award for Most Improved Junior was made to Pierre Lardet, who showed strong progress throughout the year, culminating in him winning the Mens Sprint championship, and receiving a first international callup for the Junior Inter-Area Championship in Yorkshire.

The Athlete of the Year award was extremely hard to judge, with so much success at a very high level. However, the standout performance was felt to be that of Grace Molloy, who won five international medals in her six races at the Junior European Cup and Junior World Championships, including GB's first-ever gold medal at junior level as part of the Womens Relay team.

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