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Edinburgh orienteer in top form for GB trials

17 March 2016
Alex Chepelin (wearing red) competing in the Relay race at this year’s BUCS Orienteering Championships. Photo: by Pat MacLeod

Alex Chepelin (wearing red) competing in the Relay race at this year’s BUCS Orienteering Championships. Photo: by Pat MacLeod

University of Edinburgh orienteer Alex Chepelin has produced the best form of his life a fortnight before the GB team selection trials begin. 

The 19-year-old from Aberdeen won the BUCS Orienteering Championships on his second attempt at the title last month. 

“I wanted to do better than I had last year, when I came at the far end of the top 10,” said Alex. 

“There were a lot of athletes from older age categories who I don’t usually run against that made things tougher. 

“But I knew I was in better shape than last year so I was expecting a better result. Winning the BUCS tops off my achievements." 

Alex has been an orienteer before he can remember.  And whilst he raced his first individual competition aged just seven, long before that he had been on runs strapped to his father’s back.  

Having competed in the sport for most of his life he believes he has hard-wired the technical and tactical elements  

“My parents spent a lot of time in the outdoors and orienteering, so it wasn’t surprising that I enjoyed it as a kid and just wanted to keep improving,” he explained. 

“Starting young has given me a strong technical base so any improvements I feel I will make now are more on the physical side. 

“This year’s improvements have certainly come from settling into a good training regime and not being constantly interrupted by illness or injury which affected me in 2015.” 

A further factor in Alex’s development has been his move to the University of Edinburgh where he is part of the Centre of Excellence, a partnership between the University and Scottish and British Orienteering. 

Launched in 2008 the programme is part funded by Winning Students, Scotland’s national sports scholarships programme which supports 148 student athletes at 17 Scottish universities and 14 colleges. 

Through the Centre of Excellence, athletes benefit from the full range of high performance services, including Strength & Conditioning, physiotherapy and medical support. 

“Orienteering was a big part of my decision to start at Edinburgh,” revealed the Mechanical Engineering second year, whose older brother Oleg was supported by Winning Students when he studied at Edinburgh. 

“Edinburgh is the centre of university orienteering in Britain, with the strongest team and because it’s so strong on the academic side, I knew it would be the ideal place to study too. 

“Winning Students is a tremendous help. The travel involved in orienteering is a concern but having Winning Students’ funding helps me afford to get to different countries to compete and train. 

Alex is still young in the sport but has ambitions to reach the highest levels. He won silver at the 2014 U18 European Cup and, having competed for GB at both of the last two years’ Junior Worlds, he hopes he can do better this time. 

“Getting to the Junior Worlds over the past two years was a pretty good achievement,” he said..

“I’m still relatively inexperienced internationally but I’m hoping to do the same this year and maybe get a good run out of it. 

“Long term I hope to reach my maximum ability in the sport whether that’s finishing as a junior or hopefully breaking through into seniors.  Or maybe achieving a world championship at some point.”