MACCLESFIELD schoolboy Jake O’Donnell has won the British Schools’ Orienteering Championships and is now mapping out an international future in the sport.
The King’s School youngster beat a field of some 50 runners drawn from top schools nationwide on a contoured forest and parkland course in Witton Country Park, near Blackburn.
It completes a hat-trick for the prolific youngster, who won the British sprint and middle-distance titles in Bristol in the summer giving him an astonishing 15 major titles to his name.
The 12-year-old trains with his brother Ben and father Chris, who is King’s assistant director of studies and who reintroduced the Scandinavian sport to the Macclesfield school 25 years ago.
Ben, who came a highly creditable 14th in the 14 and under event, has long suspended any sibling rivalry: “I’d like to beat Jake, but it’s not going to happen any time soon. He beats everyone. I am actually very proud of him.”
Dad Chris, who taught his sons the sport, said: “I had hoped to last a little longer, but Jake started to beat me when he was 10 and now I simply haven’t got a chance.
“Ben also beats me most of the time now too, but at least we still have some good matches.”
Both the boys train with the Derwent Valley Orienteers, Jake running and working out every night for an hour, while Ben also represents the East Midlands
He said: “Running is my strength but you can’t compete at the highest level if you can’t navigate and it was dad who taught me the skills.”
Jake’s winning margin of 3 minutes 14 seconds was the largest of all year groups and was his third consecutive title at this event.
It was also the first time in 21 years that a King's orienteer has won his or her age group.
Jake said: “My ambition is to be selected for England and my first opportunity comes next year when I turn 13.”