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Heriot-Watt orienteer Crickmore looking to make international strides this summer

24 May 2017
Heriot-Watt Univerity orienteer, Jonathan Crickmore, is aiming to enhance his international prospects this season.

Heriot-Watt Univerity orienteer, Jonathan Crickmore, is aiming to enhance his international prospects this season.

Heriot-Watt University Physics PhD student, Jonathan Crickmore competes in orienteering’s first World Cup of the season in Finland this week. And although the 24-year-old has competed at world level before, he is keen to make a bigger impact this time around.

“Last year I got to the World Cups but I was quite a long way off the top Brits,” said Crickmore.  

“I was fifth or sixth Brit but pretty far behind the top two or three. It’s been quite hard pushing on into the senior stage the last couple of years but I really feel like I’m getting there now which is a nice feeling.”

Crickmore’s progress since last year is down to a largely injury and illness-free spell, allowing him to train consistently and uninterrupted for the past seven months. 

When he analysed his performance in the sport, which tests physical and mental abilities in equal measure, the bottom line was that he had to run faster.

“In Edinburgh the opportunities aren’t there as they are in Sweden to go in a forest every single day and practise the technique,” he explained

“I was losing a minute and a half over 5k in running speed so I spent the last year training hard to just get fitter so I can put myself in a position to get nearer the leaders. 

“I’ve brought my time down by 45 seconds and I’m now in a position where I’m mixing it with a lot of very good guys.

“There’s still a lot of room to improve so now I’ve evened up the running I’ll have to look more at the technical aspects which have always been my strengths.”

So far it has been a good season for Crickmore who in recent weeks won the BUCS individual event and came third in the BUCS relay at Sheffield.  Last week he qualified as first reserve for this summer’s World Championships team after finishing fourth in the GB’s sprint selection race in Estonia.

“I ended up first reserve in two of the disciplines, sprint and the long distance, but it feels like I’m really close now which is much more encouraging,” he said.

“There’s a fifty percent chance one of the athletes might not go so I have to wait another two weeks because it’s dependent on another race. I’ll just wait and see.”

Originally from Hurstpierpoint in Sussex, Crickmore had to make the choice between his undergraduate university, Sheffield, or Heriot-Watt to study a PhD.  The strong base of orienteers in the Scottish capital, combined with access to the Orienteering Centre of Excellence at the University of Edinburgh, swung things in favour of heading north.

“Scotland in general has a very good set up for orienteering and it’s not far to go to the rest of Scotland which has wonderful terrain, so Edinburgh is a good location,” continued Crickmore.

“There’s a very good training group here in Edinburgh and I found a good PhD at the university so decided to move, and it’s worked out well.

“The PhD gives me a lot of flexibility and as most of it is theory, as opposed to being in a lab, it’s a very convenient career to have as an athlete.”

A partnership between the University of Edinburgh and Scottish and British Orienteering, the Centre of Excellence gives athletes the full range of high performance services, including Strength & Conditioning, physiotherapy and medical support.

Launched in 2008 the Centre of Excellence is part funded by Winning Students, Scotland’s national sports scholarships programme which supports 150 student athletes at 18 Scottish universities and 25 colleges, giving them the academic flexibility required to perform at the highest level in sport and studies.

“This is my second year with Winning Students and it’s been really good,” said Crickmore.

“In the past I was sceptical of gym work because I’m a long distance runner and I didn’t see the need to be strong.  But it’s one of the reasons I haven’t got injured this year and it makes a big difference having specialist coaching and a group of people to train with.

“And funding for travel and accommodation is incredibly helpful.”