Photo: Sasha Chepelin in qualification at the European Championships 2019 (On The Red Line)
I began orienteering as I learned to walk with my family based in Aberdeen, Scotland. At age 7 I began racing solo round local events organised by the local clubs GRAMP and MAROC. By age 11 I became a member of the Scottish Junior Squad (ScotJOS) where my orienteering really began to develop. And I made further improvements in my orienteering over the next few years, with the help of ScotJOS, the programme of the Junior Inter-Regional Squads (JRoS), and the British Talent Squad. The squad weekends and tours of these groups will always be highlights of my early years.
The first time I represented GB was at the European Youth Championships in France in 2012. I continued developing my performance capabilities, and grew physically faster with some help from training with both Cosmic Hill Runners and Aberdeen Athletics Club.
As an M18 I ran my first Junior World Champs - this was Bulgaria in 2014. And I also began my course in Mechanical Engineering at Edinburgh University. So far in my time there, I have been a member and on the committee of Edinburgh University OC, and have regularly raced with the Hare and Hounds running club in the off-season. For the two seasons of 2016 and 2017 I also trained and raced with Turun Metsänkävijät, a Finnish orienteering club. All these previously mentioned clubs and squads allowed me to achieve goals beyond my expectations at my final Junior World Championships last year in Tampere, Finland; I achieved a podium 5th in the Sprint, as well as 7th in both the Middle and Long races.
This year my main club will be Halden SK in South-East Norway, as I work in an industrial placement there until mid-August. I hope to have a steady transfer into the senior ranks, having started off well last year with participation in the Swiss-based World Cup Finals. With my current upgrade in age group, I feel like I am also transferring mindsets. I think I used to train to orienteer more because I was good at it and craved success (although I always enjoyed racing), but I am heading towards a much more pleasure-based training psychology. Now that I'm living in and training with Halden (arguably the capital of the orienteering world) for the next few months, I think I am in the perfect place to achieve this.