We were prompted to set up a site to focus on the GB orienteering team and senior squad because of the interest we have developed in the athletes and the international programme. We knew there was a lot of material out on the internet and in social media but it wasn't easy to find it as it was so scattered. A chance meeting at Ralph's old school really brought home to us the difficulty of following the GB team.
The School wanted to promote sport by displaying national kit worn by ex-pupils and asked us if we could supply something from orienteering. When we took in a GB top, quite by chance, we met an assistant head who asked after Ralph, and then what competitions the GB team took part in, and how he could follow things. We realised that we didn't have a satisfactory answer. Yes of course, our national federation site has profiles and information on major international competitions but it doesn't necessarily link to competitions with clubs abroad, individual training logs or exploits outside orienteering. World-of-O is wonderful and a great source of information but as implied by the name it is aimed at orienteers, and it can be hard to track the GB team amidst the plethora of information. Many of the athletes maintain detailed training diaries, but again that is not necessarily what a non-orienteer is looking for.
We know too, from last year's crowd-funding, there is significant interest in the squad athletes within the sport. We spent a lot of time talking to the orienteering community and found something of a paradox; yes the top athletes were seen as great role models and a source of inspiration (we heard of two youngsters who wouldn't have their kit washed after it had been signed by Graham, and another snippet was from some juniors, following a significant win by Megan, that they wished they could orienteer like her) but with many of the squad living and training abroad, or at least not locally, there was a feeling that the GB team could seem a little remote.
Our view is that our sport should look to use the squad as a key asset to help development; tell the stories, show the photographs, spectate the races. There are many opportunities to use the squad as a source of inspiration and we would like to address the 'remoteness' by making it easier to connect to them, to their activities, and also provide them with a platform so that we all who are interested, juniors and seniors alike, can gain from their experiences.
We hope On The Red Line will ensure everyone can follow the squad if they want, individually and through the host of international competitions. We can all see and learn from world class orienteering with GPS tracking, and television coverage - high quality and generally very affordable.
This site enables us to link you to the athletes, to their day-to-day training, and follow their competitions. We can link to or publish their articles on how they look to improve their own performances. See as an example Ali McLeod's tips for starting well - we have some more from him lined up. And at the same time you can read their experiences of living abroad, and get the inside track on what it is like to be in the top competitions.
Our athletes do want to give back to orienteering and inspire those following in their footsteps. On The Red Line will publicise events where the squad are involved. For example, recently some of the athletes have worked with Katharine Bett (who made the British Orienteering 50th anniversary film, and commentates for the international TV broadcasts of the World Cup) to make promotional videos. One was for our club, South London, and we were pleased to see an increase in newer, younger adult orienteers for the event in Richmond Park in February. Some targeted coaching ideas are being planned. The talk on "sprint orienteering" at last year's Scottish 6-day by Kris Jones was well received.
The squad have a base at the JK and we will be there keeping them company, so do please come and say hello - even if you haven't solved the squad competition.
We hope you find lots to interest you On The Red Line, and you enjoy following the GB Orienteering Team.