|Parachuting takes an Olympic Leap|
FAI Press Release
Leading IOC official Kit McConnell took a leap into the Olympic future when he made a tandem parachute jump, courtesy of instructors from the Para-Club Valais. The jumps took place at Yverdon airfield, some 30 km from Lausanne, seat of the International Olympic Committee, Sunday afternoon 30 September, 2001.
Accompanying him on his intrepid adventure were the top Lausanne sports officials, Municipal Councillor Bernard Métraux and Sabrina Tramparulo. They were carried aloft to a height of about 4 000 metres (12 500ft) in a Pilatus of Air Glacier, and fell free for almost a minute, strapped tightly to their instructors, before their canopies opened.
All three were thrilled by their first freefall parachute jumps. Back on the ground, the air was full of exclamations of excitement: "It was wonderful. A fantastic experience! Unbelievable!" Understandable initial anxiety had quickly given way to unbridled enthusiasm.
The jumps were organised by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), the world governing body for all air sports, which has had its headquarters in Avenue Mon-Repos Lausanne since 1998. The FAI is campaigning for skydiving to feature on the programme for the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008.
McConnell had been fired up with enthusiasm for making a jump when he visited the parachuting event at the World Games in Akita, Japan, in August this year. At this event, parachuting proved to be the most popular with the spectators of all the IOC-recognised sports that are not yet on the Olympic programme. Well over 20 000 people came to see the parachutists perform at close quarters, and the sport featured prominently in the World Games Opening Ceremony. Three events were featured: formation skydiving, freestyle (acrobatics in freefall), and accuracy landing.
Max Bishop, FAI's Secretary General, said: "Parachuting is a sport for the new millenium. It is exciting to watch, highly competitive, colourful and very appealing to young sports-women as well as men. There are events for individuals and for teams. And it costs no more than skiing or similar sports. We are convinced it's the TV sport of the future."
Kit McConnell's Olympic leap will be followed soon with jumps by other leading officials from the World Games and Olympic Movements.
For further information contact:
Fédération Aéronautique Internationale
Avenue Mon-Repos 24
CH 1005 Lausanne
Tel: +(41) 21 345 1070
Fax: +(41) 21 345 1077
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