Slovenian Matjaz Feraric took the Gold at the Paragliding Accuracy competition of the World Games 2013 in Cali, Colombia. Tomas Lednik from Czech Republic took Silver and Tanapat Luangiam from Thailand Bronze (see picture).
In the female category, the Gold medal went to Lithuanian Jolanta Romanenko, while Silver was taken by Nunnapat Phuchong from Thailand and Bronze by Milica Marinkovic from Serbia.
The prize-giving ceremony for Paragliding Accuracy and Parachuting Canopy Piloting took place at the airfield, right beside the pond and the target mat, in front of the Colombian crowd which was as cheerful as ever. Medals were awarded by FAI President John Grubbström, in the presence of FAI Secretary General Jean-Marc Badan and all the air sports athletes and officials.
During the evening everyone involved in the airsports events, including volunteers, headed to the Pascual Guerrero stadium to attend the closing ceremony of the World Games 2013. Marching in front of a full stadium was impressive, and everyone enjoyed the show and the salsa concert.
The wind was stable and low yesterday morning, which allowed the remaining pilot complete round 5 and everyone to compete in round 6. To add to the suspense of the competition, it was flown in reverse order.
A superb landing allowed Matjas Feraric to score 0001 and thus secure victory. Jolanta Romanenko scored 0150 in the last round, which was what she needed to steal the Gold in the female category.
At 51 years old, Matjaz Feraric from Slovenia is a veteran champion in Paragliding Accuracy, having competed in every FAI World and European Championship event since they began in 2000. His is a familiar face on the podium of national and international competitions worldwide, demonstrating consistent performance across varying conditions and terrain. Matjaz has twice been FAI World PG Accuracy Champion. His first gold medal was awarded in 2003, on his home ground in Slovenia, and he won again in 2007 when the World Championships took place in winter, on a frozen lake in Trakai, Lithuania. He was the first FAI European Paragliding Accuracy Champion in Serbia in 2008. He came third in the World Air Games in 2009, totally undaunted by landing on the raft floating on the lake in Avigliana, near Torino. He has won the annual Paragliding Accuracy World Cup series four times, in 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012. He is currently third in the FAI's World Pilot Ranking Scheme, only once slipping out of the top 3 in the 12 years since the discipline was first adopted by FAI.
Speaking after his victory, he said: “It is great! I am very happy, as it might be the last time I participate in such a big event, and also because I specifically trained for it. I loved being part of the World Games, it is really a special competition - it is new for paragliding accuracy pilots.”
“The people here create a great atmosphere and I felt that they were pushing me to make good results. For me it is fantastic when there is music and many people cheering. The atmosphere between athletes is also great, there are a lot of teams from different countries, which is different from the World or Continental championship where there are less teams, but with more pilots.”
“I get a lot of support from home; my wife and children understand that I spend a lot of time abroad to compete. I hope that my victory will entice the Slovenian Federation to help pilots even more.”
Lithuanian pilot Jolanta Romanenko, 42, is ranked 16th in the FAI's World Pilot Ranking Scheme (Women’s category). She started paragliding in 2005, and her experience includes more than 200 hours of flight. Her best achievement before the World Games 2013 was a Silver medal at the 3rd FAI European Paragliding Accuracy Championship.
She flies cross-country during spring and summer, and accuracy landing during autumn and winter – paragliding is her hobby, her way to rest and relax.
The wind and the air conditions were a much talked about subject all along the paragliding accuracy competitions. She said: "Air conditions were difficult yesterday, very difficult even, but I think that they are actually similar to Lithuania.”
“To win such a competition, it is essential to train a lot and be able to concentrate perfectly during the competition. On the whole a strong character and a strong will are crucial to be victorious.”
Like all the athletes participating in the airsports events, Jolanta loved the public of Cali: “Colombian people are so fun and helpful. I would like to thank them for their enthusiasm and interest in our sport. I had never flown before in front of so many people! I could hear them while I was approaching the target, and I thought they wanted me to make my best flight.”
Jolanta added: “I would like to thank my family, my boyfriend and the Lithuanian Federation which supported me and helped me train.”
The World Games are organised and governed by the International World Games Association (IWGA), under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The 2013 edition takes place in Cali, Colombia, over a period of 11 days from July 25 to August 4 2013. 32 official sports feature in the programme, including Parachuting Canopy Piloting and Paragliding Accuracy, while AeroMusicals (Aeromodelling) is present as a demonstration sport. The Parachuting and Paragliding competitions run concurrently on the same site, for maximum spectator interest, from 1 to 4 August 2013. Some 65 competitors (36 for parachuting and 29 for paragliding) gained entry to the Games.