Romania’s George Cotet set a world record to claim gold in the paragliding accuracy competition at the World Air Games in Dubai.
The 47-year-old had been in joint third place, alongside defending champion Matjaz Feraric of Slovenia, at the halfway stage of the 12-event competition but produced several excellent landings in the final two days.
Both Cotet and Feraric had posted identical scores in the penultimate four rounds of the competition, with the duo displacing China’s Qiang Ma and Serbia’s Goran Djurkovic at the top of the standings.
As only five points separated the top four competitors, however, there was little margin for error in the final round and Feraric faltered under the pressure by finishing well short of the target, dropping him to sixth place.
His error gave Cotet the opportunity to seal victory in the final flight of the event and the Romanian glider secured gold with another impressive landing, becoming the first man to finish less than five centimetres short of the target in 11 consecutive landings.
A fly-off was required to decided silver and bronze medals due to Ma and Djurkovic tying for second place, with the Chinese athlete eventually triumphing by finishing one centimetre closer to the target than his rival.
Meanwhile, French pilot Olivier Masurel, one of the favourites for gold in powered aerobatics, lived up to his billing by clinching victory in an event which encourages accuracy and precision, as well as flamboyant flying.
The 35-year-old had come under pressure from Poland’s Artur Kielak and America’s Rob Holland throughout the competition, with the duo eventually earning the silver and bronze medals respectively for their performances.
Their medal ceremony was held during the World Air Games' Gala Dinner at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, with World Air Sports Federation (FAI) President John Grubbström joining competitors and organisers at the lavish event.
"It's a fantastic feeling to win when you're up against the best pilots in the world," Masurel said after receiving his medal.
"This event was not always easy; we did not get to do much training because our planes took two months to be shipped here and the visibility was poor at times, but I'm delighted to have won."
Italy’s Luca Bertossio, who won the aerobatic gliding competition yesterday, also received his medal during the Gala Dinner.
He was joined on the podium by Hungary’s Ferenc Toth and Premsyl Vavra of the Czech Republic.
The World Air Games are due to conclude on Thursday (December 10).
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