Balancing elite sport and undergraduate studies

Tamsin Orienteering

Tamsin Moran (BSc Geography) graduated this Summer. Throughout her studies she has been supported by an Elite Sports Performance Scheme – the University of Sheffield’s way of supporting talented athletes during their studies. Here, Tamsin describes her time as a geography student and elite orienteer.

Geography and Orienteering? They are both about maps aren’t they?!

In a way, yes they are. In orienteering, each competitor has to independently navigate their way around the course: the winner is the person who visits all the control points in the fastest time. After years of experience, you are able to run terrain at top speed whilst reading the full detail of the map (see below). The brown lines on the map show the intricate contour detail, the black dots show the rock detail and the background colour of the map shows the runnability of the terrain. It’s important to vary your speed when it is technically difficult in order to limit mistakes – sometimes relocating can be the trickiest part.

Tell us about your background in orienteering.

My parents started orienteering when they were at university so my brother and I were taken along to events from a very young age. Aged 10, I joined the South Central Junior Squad and took part in training days and weekends away at competitions. I also ran for my local club (Southampton) until I came to Sheffield.

What is it like to be part of the Elite Sports Performance Scheme?

It has been very helpful. To succeed as an orienteer you have to experience a wide variety of terrains. The ESPS scholarship grants have helped to fund travel for training and competitions both around the country and abroad. The Strength and Conditioning support programmes massively helped my terrain running which has considerably improved.

How do you balance studying and training?

One of my reasons for choosing to study at Sheffield was that it is one of the strongest student orienteering clubs – at one of the best universities in the country. The club organises training almost every day of the week and the social element of the club means that it is fun to go along. Sometimes I have to make decisions. This year I was on the Geography New Zealand field class which meant that I missed all the important selection races. Alongside orienteering, I also enjoy fell running, cycling and climbing which I’ve also made time for over the last 3 years.

What has been your greatest achievement in orienteering during your studies?

During my first year at Sheffield I was selected for the Junior World Championships, the World University Championships and Junior European Cup. Another highlight was winning BUCS Orienteering with Sheffield University Orienteering Club in 2014.

What are your future plans for orienteering?

I’d like to try to get selected for the Great Britain senior team for some World Cup races over the next couple of years. I also do quite a bit of orienteering coaching which I am keen to continue.

Looking back at the past three years, what were your favourite bits? What would your advice to your 18 year old self be?

The Geography field class to New Zealand – 10 days travelling in stunning landscapes – was a lot of fun, as were trips away with the university orienteering and mountaineering clubs.

I would tell myself to seize every opportunity that comes along. I only started climbing at university and have made some great friends through this. I think university is a good opportunity to try something new.

Sheffield University Orienteering Club is a very sociable club catering for all abilities so if you fancy giving a new adventurous sport a try you should come along!

What is a ‘typical week’ like for a student who also does lots of sport?

I try to get most of my uni work out of the way during the day so that I can train in the late afternoon or evening as well as have some time to socialise with friends. Twice a week the orienteering club also has morning training which includes strength work and running drills. I go away at weekends a fair amount for both training and competitions. It’s busy but it’s great that way.

For more information about ESPS visit Sport Sheffield

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