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Tania to get the team going forward

By Mark Etheridge

Tania Wimberley will be the first South African to do battle at this year’s World Games in Kaohsiung City, Taiwan.

At 2.03pm on Friday (8.03pm SA time) the weight of the nation will be on her slim shoulders as she lines up for orienteering’s sprint event at the Games, an event which features all the major non-Olympic sports codes.

It’s a complicated event, combining brain and brawn, and she’ll be required to complete a course, with the aid of a map and compass. Her task will involve 2.7km of running, with total climbing of 30 metres and also negotiate 23 control points.

But the 38-year-old Johannesburg Stock Exchange employee is up for the challenge.

“It’s extremely hot and humid here but I’m looking forward to it. And if I can complete the course in between 15 and 18 minutes I’ll be happy. If I run close to 15min then I will have aced it.”

Shortly after the women, fellow South African Nicholas Mulder goes off in the men’s version of the sprint event.

His challenge will be a 3.1km run, 40m climb and 25 controls.

He’s just returned from Italy where he looked after the SA junior orientating side and is an experienced campaigner on the world circuit — having already competed at eight world championships.

“If I do faster than 16min it would be perfect. The top orienteers come mainly from the Scandinavian countries but this year there are challenges from Russia and New Zealand.”

The next day the two are back at it, when they tackle the middle distance event. That involves a combination of 4.7km, 130m and 23 controls for Wimberley and 5.6km, 170m and 25 controls for Mulder.

There are no real expectations of medals for the South Africans but as SASCOC chairman Gideon Sam said at a function Wednesday: “Sure, orienteering may not be a big sport but its up to the athletes to get out there and make it big!”

The function was attended by the SA representative in Taiwan, Petrus Meyer, who told the athletes to “fight the cause and not allow the flag to fall down”.