Matt wins gold at orienteering

PROUD PARENTS: Matt Ogden celebrates his win with parents Kevin and Pauline.
PROUD PARENTS: Matt Ogden celebrates his win with parents Kevin and Pauline.

Matt Ogden has won New Zealand's first gold in history at the Junior World Orienteering Championships.

The 20-year-old from Kumeu has returned home after winning the international week-long competition in Slovakia.

Ogden completed the final 4.8km course in 27 minutes, 55 seconds, beating 160 other athletes to win the top spot.

"Near the end of the event the course went through the arena and the crowd was going wild, I thought that meant I was doing OK, maybe in the top six. But when I finally crossed the finish I heard commentators say I was leading. It was pretty nuts," he says.

Competitors are started at different times. Usually the best started last, so all athletes had to cross the finish before Ogden's placing was secured.

"Throughout the race I was really focused to make sure I was running as fast as possible and not make mistakes.

"When the announcement was made that I had won my parents were crying, it was a special moment."

Kevin and Pauline Ogden had travelled to watch their son compete. "It's because of their support that I could go to these events," Ogden says.

This is the third world event he has competed in, and the last time he is eligible for the junior event.

Starting orienteering in high school, Ogden was encouraged by fellow international competitor and friend Gene Beveridge.

Both joined the North West Orienteering Club and competed on a national level before qualifying for the national team.

"I run most days and do three or four orienteering outings a week. I go out to Woodhill a lot and also with an Auckland orienteering group. That's the reason we did so well at the competitions, the training environment we have here now."

Ogden will train for the rest of the year and hopes to get selected for the national senior level team so he can compete in an Orienteering World Cup event in Wellington next January.

The Auckland University third year mechanical engineering student says next year he will take a break to finish his final year of study before moving to Europe to live and compete in the senior orienteering division.

Tom Reynolds of Waimauku also competed in Slovakia.

Rodney Times