Switzerland earned sprint relay gold on the first day of action at the World University Orienteering Championships ©Facebook/WUC Orienteering 2018

Switzerland were crowned winners of the sprint relay competition as the World University Orienteering Championships began in Kuortane.

Teams of four contested the competition in the Finnish municipality, with two men and two women in each.

Men competed over a 4.3 kilometres course, while women had a smaller 3.6km route.

Switzerland’s team proved consistent throughout the event, with Paula Gross putting them in first place after the opening leg.

They dropped to second after Jonas Egger’s effort before Joey Hadorn pushed them into the lead in the third leg.

Martina Ruch anchored the Swiss team to the finish, crossing in a winning time of 56min 55sec.

Poland claimed the silver medal, with Agata Stankiewicz, Piotr Parfianowicz, Krzysztof Wolowczyk and Aleksandra Hornik finishing in a time of 57:42.

They finished 11 seconds clear of France, who rounded off the podium places.

Their team consisted of Delphine Poirot, Adrien Delenne, Arnaud Perrin and Florence Hanauer.

Hosts Finland ended the 23 team competition in sixth place, ending behind Britain and Norway. 

Individual action is scheduled to begin on tomorrow when the middle distance competition takes place.

The following two days will feature sprint and long distance races.

A relay competition is due to bring the Championships to a conclusion on Saturday (July 21).

Organisers will hold a Closing Ceremony after the final competition.

A total of 34 World University Championships are taking place in 2018.

The events were awarded by the International University Sports Federation.