White Sands, NM. (June 22, 2017)--Give 1st Lt. Theodore "Teddy" Fong a map and he can tell you where you are and the fastest route to any location on the map. Fong, the new Aide-de-Camp to White Sands Missile Range Commander Brig. Gen. Eric Sanchez, was selected for the U.S. Armed Forces Orienteering Team to compete in the 50th World Military Orienteering Championship in Hamina, Finland, June 10 through June 16. Hosted by the International Military Sports Council, the competition included the top 200 military athletes from over 26 countries.
Orienteering is a competitive form of land navigation that requires athletes to race through each control point, in a pre-determined sequence, with just a map and compass. Competitors are faced with continual decision making on the fastest route in varying terrains through each control point without getting lost.
"Orienteering is a thinking sport," he said. "It requires you to constantly look at your surroundings and visualize it onto a map. Likewise, you're continuing to look at your map and transposing the 2-D map into what you're seeing in reality. You have to do all of this to make sure you don't get lost and to pick the best route through forests or swamps. You're doing all of this while running between a seven to nine-minute mile pace through the woods."
Fong and the men's U.S. Armed Forces Orienteering team, which is made up of service members from throughout the Installation Management Command, placed 35th out of 46 counties. The women's team placed ninth out of 14 countries. He said the team did better than when the U.S. competed in previous years.
Fong has been a competitive orienteer ever since he picked up the sport in 2010, while attending the United States Military Academy at West Point. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Fong said he spent his youth playing soccer, running, and hiking with the Boy Scouts. It was this foundation that helped him excel at West Point where he discovered the sport. He said he had a terrible time at land navigation during basic training and thus vowed to become a better navigator. With hard work and preparation, he was able to join the West Point Orienteering team two months later.
"In the future, I hope to make the U.S. National Orienteering Team to compete in the World Orienteering Championships," he said.
Prior to competing in Finland, Fong was also selected to compete in the U.S. Junior World Orienteering Championship in 2012, he also won several U.S. Orienteering Intercollegiate Championships between 2011 through 2014. He has orienteered in world orienteering competitions in Serbia and Taiwan, but said he has trouble finding time to orienteer with his work obligations.
"I enjoy the sport and love to compete, but my work always comes first," Fong said.
He said he is looking forward to working at WSMR, navigating through the New Mexico terrain and competing in the 2018 Bataan Memorial Death March.
"I intend on making new orienteering maps of the local areas around Las Cruces and hope to train around the Organ Mountains," Fong said.