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Sunday, 2 September, 2001, 23:51 GMT 00:51 UK
Jumpers meet Malaysia challenge
Canadian Clifford John Ryder jumps from the Petronas Towers
The ground is only a few seconds away
Malaysia has hosted the world's first extreme skydiving competition, with 51 contestants leaping off the world's tallest building, the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur.

Kings of the dive
1. Johnny Winkelkotter (US)
2. James Freeman (Australia)
3. Jurgen Muhling (Germany)
The sport, known as base jumping, involves parachute jumps from fixed buildings, giving the skydivers only a few seconds to open their chutes and land safely.

There was only one casualty, Dutch parachutist Jean-Louis Becker, who broke his leg during a practice jump, but managed to attend the final ceremony in a wheelchair.

The organisers, Skyventure Production, now hope to organise the competition annually.

Johnny Winkelkotter
Winkelkotter carried off the crown
"The government has given us the green light," said Skyventure chairperson Jasmina Jacinta Lee, for what many consider a sport for maniacs.

"It was a crazy idea from the start - others say that too. But we what is something original," she said.

The event may serve to give the sport increased legitimacy.

Many base jumpers break trespass laws to obtain access to their take-off points, because owners of bridges, buildings and radio masts deny them permission.

They are wary of being sued if things go wrong.

The term base jumping derives from the acronym for building, antennae, span, earth.

Winkelkotter wins

American skydiver Johnny "Utah" Winkelkotter, a veteran of 6,000 jumps, won the individual competition, with Croatia winning the team prize.

Jumper landing in front of Petronas Towers
Points are given for speed and accuracy
The Petronas Towers are 452 metres (1,483 feet) tall, but contestants had only half that height in which to open their parachutes safely.

Jumping from a balcony 266 metres (872 feet) high, carrying a single parachute, they aimed to land in a circle 10 metres (35 feet) wide within four to six seconds of taking off.

Points are scored for speed, accuracy and how the parachute canopy opens.

Competitors came from 16 countries, and ranged in age from 22 to over 50.

Jean-Louis Becker
Jean-Louis Becker: Still smiling despite a broken leg
"I have great respect for the other guys who took part," said the victorious Winkelkotter.

Jean-Louis Becker, who underwent surgery on his broken leg, was stoical about the risks.

"We knew there would be danger, but we knew we would make it.

"The most important thing is that we are all still here on Planet Earth."

See also:

29 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Skydivers descend on Malaysia
02 Dec 99 | Asia-Pacific
Skydive record set in Thailand
01 Aug 99 | Americas
Skydivers in plane tragedy
31 Dec 00 | Wales
Skydiver killed in Spain
10 Dec 97 | Sci/Tech
Skydiver defies fall to earth
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