Centre puts Edinburgh on map

An Orienteering Centre of Excellence has been launched in Edinburgh.

The Centre - dedicated to developing elite student athletes - is the first of its kind in the UK. A second will be established in Sheffield.

It is led by Finnish orienteering coach and elite competitor Toni Louhisola, who has been appointed as Head of Performance.

As an athlete, Toni competed at World Championships.

As a coach, he has helped two orienteers make the top 10 in the World Championships and acted as an events consultant to British Orienteering.

I proudly take on this challenge. I want to create a positive, innovative and supportive culture, where every athlete feels respected and can enjoy the atmosphere and a variety of high quality training. My goal is to make the team work together, to develop the individuals and to help them produce the results they dream about.

Toni LouhisolaHead of Performance

Orienteering is a popular outdoor sport which tests speed and navigation, with the World Championships involving more than 50 countries.

Races are split into sprint, middle distance, long distance and relay.

Sporting partnership

The new Centre has been created through a unique multi-partnership arrangement involving British Orienteering, Scottish Orienteering, the University and Scotland’s national sports scholarship scheme, Winning Students.

Winning Students is now in its second year, supporting the best athletes studying in colleges and universities across Scotland with scholarships of up to £5,500.

Student athletes benefit from an individually tailored support package which includes amongst others, coaching, physiotherapy, travel expenses and accommodation.

Network of universities

The scheme forms a network of colleges and universities across Scotland and member institution the University of Edinburgh can now see the hub realised through the Winning Students investment.

Orienteering is one of nine Winning Students core sports and this year, 11 of the country's top orienteers will receive support.

These include Scott Fraser, a 23-year-old Performance Psychology masters student, who was the 2009 British Champion.

The University of Edinburgh is renowned for the quality of its sporting and academic programmes. We are sure our new partnership with GB and Scottish Orienteering, the support offered by Winning Students scholarships and Toni Louhisola's appointment, will enhance this reputation yet further and help produce a stream of world class orienteers in the years ahead.

Jim AitkenDirector of Sport and Exercise at the University