AN INTERNATIONAL orienteering competitor from Coventry is appealing to local businesses to back him as he lines up in the Junior World Orienteering Championships later this year.
Harrison McCartney will fly out to Engadin Valley in Switzerland next month for the tournament which will see him join ranks with ten other GB athletes who have been training throughout the winter especially for the five day competition.
The 17-year-old King Henry VIII School student, who is currently studying A Levels, is looking to raise £1,200 though to cover the costs of travelling and competing in the championships.
Based in Earlsdon, Harrison was selected for the national squad after competing in major domestic events since the turn of the new year.
On an average winter week, Harrison will cover 80 kilometres on foot across the land to train for the summer season.
The teenager will join ranks with Kenilworth-based competitor Julie Emmerson – who became the British Long Distance Champion in late April, shortly after Harrison won the final race of the UK Elite League in Scotland.
Now competing against some of the world’s best, Harrison told The Observer his orienteering endeavours first started at Ryton Pools when he was aged just seven.
He added: “I started competing in Orienteering by chance, there’s plenty of permanent courses to get involved with in Coventry – I started at Ryton Pools and have been doing it for a decade now, it’s a great sport.
“I’ve been to Scotland to do some training and have also been around the Lake District – this weekend we’re in Surrey for the British Championships.
“We’ve been practising of late and competing in plenty of domestic competitions – they’ve gone well and we’re well prepared for Switzerland later this year.”
Despite plenty of practise, one thing Harrison and Julie can’t prepare for is the terrain.
Famous for its undulating terrain, Engadin Valley will present a new challenge to Coventry’s GB representative who explained it’s “impossible” to replicate foreign terrain on UK soil.
Harrison said: “During the event they’ll be a variety of age classes, each group is seeded and each team turns up at a specific time where they aim to run the course in the fastest time possible.
“Our event takes place in the Engadin Valley area, it will be hard and a new experience for all of us.
“The route falls under the moderate altitude – that’ll have a big impact on the competition as we’re not used to those conditions at all.
“It will be classic alpine terrain which you just can’t replicate in the UK.”
However due to an uneven distribution of funds amongst sport supported by Sport England, British Orienteering – the national governing body for the sport – are unable to cover the costs for athletes to attend the championships.
Harrison therefore is appealing to local companies to sponsor his trip as Team GB aim to become world champions despite competing on terrain they’re unfamiliar with.
Harrison said: “We’re looking for sponsors to help cover the costs of attending the event.
“There’s a limited budget spent on orienteering so we’ve set up a crowd funding page to gather some money – however we’re inviting local companies to get involved and be a part of our mission in the world championships.
“It’d be great to have a local company on board to fund part of our trip, we have big ambitions and would love to perform well in Switzerland.”
To help get Harrison to Switzerland, visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/support-team-gb-orienteering-junior-world-champs where all donations are welcome.