Tearaway Teague hopes to plunge to World Games medal

Today we feature the ninth and final in a series of pre-event stories ahead of South Africa’s campaign at the 2013 World Games in Cali, Colombia. South Africa will... Read more

Today we feature the ninth and final in a series of pre-event stories ahead of South Africa’s campaign at the 2013 World Games in Cali, Colombia. South Africa will be represented in nine different sporting codes. MARK ETHERIDGE looks at the chances of our one-man ‘flying machine’ in the aerosport code.

Anyone suffering from acrophobia and altophobia need read no further!

It’s fair to say that the majority of people fear extreme heights and falling from great heights. Happily for Team South Africa, Chris Teague is not one of these people and is at the other, extreme end of the scale… he does exactly this sort of thing. For fun!

Teague will be the only South African representative in the Aerosport code at the World Games and his ‘wingman’ will be wife, Julie who acts as manager and faithfully films all his landings to spot any areas where they can improve.

The 30-year-old Pretoria property developer’s discipline will be canopy piloting, commonly known in the trade as CP and involves swooping over water (a ‘pond’) in distance, accuracy and speed rounds. “Essentially it’s about landing a very small parachute in as fast, as far or as accurately as you can,” sums up Julie. “Chris is part of the World Games team after ending 15th in the World Championships Mondial in Dubai last year where there were over 100 competitors.”

Making Teague’s result all the more impressive is that he was the only amateur in the top 20.

“Canopy piloting is essentially a division of skydiving,” elaborates Julie. “It’s a very visual sport and all about landing a very small parachute with great accuracy on a small spot.”

The competition will be broken down into heats of three jumps each, featuring distance, accuracy and speed. “It’s obviously a very dangerous sport as competitors are travelling at extremely fast speeds and very close to the ground.”

Competitors jump from a height of around 6000 feet and try to get into as steep a dive a possible to gain maximum speed.”

“SASCOC have also really come to party to help with our preparations,” said Julie. “We had an invitation to buy a new prototype canopy from US company Performance Design. Known as the PD Peregrine, the 71-square foot design cost R47,000 and is the true F1 of parachutesÔǪ and SASCOC helped out with cash to buy this and give us a much better chance of success.”

With the new design, not normally available for commercial purchase, Teague will be expecting to reach speeds in excess of 170km/h as he swoops earthwards.

Training takes time and money and the Teagues expect to have already made over 100 jumps in preparation on this new parachute. They practice primarily at Pretoria Skydiving Club at Wonderboom Airport, which is celebrating its 50th birthday this year. Each jump costs around R260 so this is not a cheap sport.

In terms of the different countries and their competitive element Julie says:

“The biggest name will be from the United States, current world champion Curtis Bartholomew, and there’s also Jason [Moledzki] from Canada who has won the world title on many occasions. Brazil will be represented well and the Middle East regions like Dubai and the Emirates will also be up there, they all get national funding which is a huge help.”

Just under 40 Aerosport athletes will be in action, at least three of them female (including the top two competitors at the 2012 Mondial in Dubai).

As for the man himself Teague says: Clearly there is a competitive streak in me as I love the feeling of competition and being judged by my peers. With canopy piloting competition being a black and white event you can compete against yourself and improve upon your last performances.

“Canopy Piloting has the added benefit of happening over water in front of crowds offering excellent spectator appeal. I look forward to competing against the worlds best at a world class event.

“I’m hoping to place in the top three and win a medal in CaliÔǪ from a small pool of skydivers, South Africa can comfortably fly alongside the world’s best and showcase the country’s talent.”

South Africa has two contestants in the waterskiing code for this year’s World Games in Cali, Colombia from 25 July to 4 August.

And unlike at the last World Games in Taiwan four years ago where the SA contingent took part in the barefoot waterskiing category, this time out its traditional waterskiing and wake boarding.

The two SA representatives are Dylan Mitchell (aged 20) and Gabi Viljoen (21) and the team will be accompanied by manager/coach Neil McLennan.

McLennan is currently in the United States ahead of the World Games and the two team-members are also abroad.

He took time out to share his thoughts on the SA duo. “Dylan is originally from Cape Town and took a gap year in 2012 to focus on his wake boarding and improve his overall world rating. He has based himself in Europe lately, competing in may of the IWWF events around Europe.

“He finished third in both the British Nationals and European Championships which improved his rankings to top lace in the junior men’s division which helped in his selection for the World Games squad.

“He’s been in Lebanon at a training camp for the past month and he’ll be hoping for a high score at the Games.”

Waterskier Viljoen is also stateside, currently studying and training at Rollins University in Orlando, Florida.

“Gabi’s been skiing since she was eight years old,” tells McLennan. “She’s currently ranked sixth in the world and holds all African records in all the age groups. She’s also a past Moomba champion in Australia and a Masters runner-up.

“She’s really on form now and carrying a lot of confidence into the games and, I think one of our best hopes for a medal in Cali. Straight after the games she heads straight to the Under-21 World Waterskiing championships which will be held in Florida, USA.

“These two athletes have put in a lot of time and effort into their training and have a great chance of bringing back medals in their individual disciplines,” was McLelland’s summing up of the Team SA waterski/wakeboard challenge.

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