Emily Benham, Double World MTBO Champion
While some of us were sunning ourselves (ha ha) in South Wales, Sarum former club member Emily Benham put in a stunning performance becoming a double World Champion at the World Mountain Bike Orienteering Championships held in Aveiro-Coimbra, Portugal. Emily took the gold in the Sprint race in a time of 17:17, just 2 seconds ahead of Marika Hara of Finland in second place and 42 seconds ahead of Henna Saarinen, also of Finland, in third place. In the subsequent Middle Distance Race Emily missed out on the title being just 3 seconds behind Olga Shipilova Vinogradova of Russia (44.02) to take the Silver medal. This narrow defeat spurred Emily to storm home in the Long Distance race in a time of 1.29.10 to beat Gaelle Barlet of France by 38 sec. to take her second world title and gold medal.
Emily, 27, is widely recognised as Britain’s outstanding female MTBO athlete consistently performing well at world level since she took up the sport in 2007 having taken up orienteering at the age of 11. She has previously won 3 silver medals and 2 bronze medals at MTBO World Championships, was the World Cup winner in 2014 and 2015 and European Long distance Champion in 2015. These medal successes are just reward for one of Britain’s most committed young athletes Emily was winner of the Wiltshire and Swindon Sports Personality of the Year in 2010 and 2013, is a former recipient of SCOA grant-aid funding for aspiring junior international orienteers and, as a junior, was sponsored by Sarum Orienteering Club.
After her third medal Emily said “It’s just incredible, I’m really in the shape of my life at the moment. I was so angry after Wednesday (middle distance), because I did so many things that I shouldn’t have done, and today I just said to myself that I wouldn’t let that happen again, so the other athletes didn’t really have a chance today”.
Emily’s success was given great coverage in the Salisbury Journal.