James Hammond: Forth Valley Orienteering ace earns top athlete award at UK festival

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Forth Valley Orienteers' youngster and district athlete James Hammond was the star turn at the UK's biggest orienteering competition, as he was named as Athlete of the Festival at the 2023 Jan Kjellstrom International in the Lake District.

More than 4000 participants across all age groups descended on the lakes for the 55th year of the international, and James got his weekend off to the perfect start as he won the combined M18/M20 sprint in 14.48 to secure an automatic qualification berth for this summer's Junior World Championships in Romania.

He was joined atop the sprint podium by Will Hensman (M40 – 14.30) and Alison Cunningham (W60 – 12.36), while there were silver medals for Cathy Tilbrook (W55 – 13.51) and Heather Fellbaum (W60 – 13.43) and a bronze on debut for Hannah Inman (W12 – 14.44).

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The general classification was determined over two forest stages, and three FVO athletes won both of their races to top their class. James remained unbeaten with an M18 double, while Andy Llewellyn topped M35 for his first-ever championship victory and Hannah Inman raced hard to win W12 by two-and-a-half minutes.

Forth Valley Orienteers' star James Hammond was once again in fine form for his club (Photo: Contributed)Forth Valley Orienteers' star James Hammond was once again in fine form for his club (Photo: Contributed)
Forth Valley Orienteers' star James Hammond was once again in fine form for his club (Photo: Contributed)

Jason Inman won the overall silver medal in M50 with a second and a third and there were bronze medals for Will Hensman (M40), Janine Inman (W45) and Kirsty Bryan-Jones (W50). Esme Kelly won her first big medal outside Scotland with the W14 middle distance silver, and there were middle distance bronzes for Chris Smithard in M21E and Alison Cunnningham in W60.

Five relay medals closed out the festival, with the highlight being back-to-back wins for the senior men’s team of Andy Llewellyn, Roger Goddard and Will Hensman.

There was a hat-trick of silvers too in these categories; elite men (James Hammond, Alasdair McLeod and Chris Smithard), intermediate women (Rebecca Hammond, Esme Kelly and Scarlett Kelly) and ultravet women (Hazel Dean, Vicky Thornton and Alison Cunningham), while the veteran women’s team of Heather Fellbaum, Louise Longhurst and Cathy Tilbrook picked up the bronze in their class.

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The Great Britain teams for the early summer internationals were named following the festival, and James Hammond was selected for both the Junior World Championships and the European Youth Championships in the preceding week, while Chris Smithard is off to Norway for the first round of the 2023 World Cup.

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