Young orienteering star Olle Poland. Photo: Rohan Thomson
Six Canberrans have been selected to compete in the first World Cup orienteering event of 2013 in New Zealand this week, representing three different countries: Australia, Britain and New Zealand. And then there's Poland.
Olle Poland will make his senior international debut in the New Zealand races. The 18-year-old has won the Australian Junior National Series for the past two years.
He'll be joined by two teammates from the Canberra Cockatoos, the reigning champions of the National Orienteering League, with Lachlan Dow, 21, and Ian Lawford, 19, also making their senior debut as the World Cup comes to the southern hemisphere for the first time since Canberra hosted in 2000.
The trio, who will join the men's team of 10 orienteers, will take on some of the world's best, but will also be competing against experienced domestic teammate, Matt Crane, who has competed for Britain at five world championships.
"Matt's been really helpful actually, [giving] advice on what it's like to race those big open international competitions and how to hold your nerve and not worry about the really good guys that you see in the magazines," Poland said.
Their Cockatoos teammate, Mace Neve, the ACT's sole representative on the Australian women's team, said it will be an invaluable experience for the young men before the world championships.
"They don't have to go to Switzerland or Sweden to run against these guys and it will be good to show them where they're at,'' she said.
''And the boys are really fit, they've been training really hard."
But for their Kiwi Cockatoos teammate, Lizzie Ingham, Neve says it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete on the world stage in a familiar setting.
Ingham, who reached a world ranking of 24 this year, has spent the past two months in New Zealand preparing for the races, and will have at least one trans-Tasman competitor cheering her on.
"Lizzie obviously is a really good chance in New Zealand, and all the Australian team members will take a lot of pride in her doing well I think," Neve said.
"There is a bit of rivalry between Australia and New Zealand, and we'll want to run better than those girls, but definitely I'll be supporting Lizzie and I really hope that she runs really, really well.
''At the World Cup, the trans-Tasman rivalry is definitely there, but when it comes down to it, aside from a Kiwi, there's no one I'd rather see on top of the podium than a fellow Canberran."
The event starts on Friday and runs until January 13.