By Mark Etheridge
in Cali, Colombia
Michael Crone will be hoping his early arrival at the World Games here will give him even a tiny advantage when the orienteering competition gets underway on Friday.
Crone, Team South Africa’s only competitor at these Games (there were two at the last Games in Taiwan four years ago) arrived with the team on Sunday 21 July.
That means he has been able to fit in eight solid sessions of training ahead of Friday’s sprint event.
“It was great for SASCOC to bring us out that far ahead of our competition,” said the 21-year-old on the eve of his competition. “The majority of the other orienteers only arrived here this Tuesday/Wednesday when their federations checked in.
“So I’ve been very lucky to have suffered no jetlag etc and have been training regularly at 11am, the same time for my competition.”
Crone will take on an unknown 4.2-kilometre course (just 20m of climb) and must check in at 20 controls. He’ll be ‘armed’ with just a map and compass and negotiate the course as quickly as possible with a minimum number of delays.
He’ll be up against 38 rivals, aged between the age of 21 and 39. And what does he expect from his first of two races (he also races the distance event on Saturday)?
“To be honest a top 30 spot at least, would be awesome. The world’s 13 top ranked countries each get two spots and the rest are made up of the various Olympic/continental regions. The Europeans are going to be very hard to beat but I’m hoping to be one of the top athletes from outside that region.
“The terrain where I’ve been able to train ÔÇô adjacent to the competition area ÔÇô is made up mostly road, gravel paths and grass and is fairly residential in nature which I like. We also have to be careful of thorny bamboo in parts… one of the Austrian guys had a big gash after running into a patch.”
Come Friday, Johannesburg’s Crone will be hoping he can be as much of a thorn in the side of the seasoned European veterans as possible.