Page last updated at 01:09 GMT, Sunday, 16 August 2009 02:09 UK

Free runners take on competition

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Running free at TVC

The best free runners or "urban acrobats" from across the globe have competed in the World Championships in London's Trafalgar Square.

Free running uses the urban environment to perform gymnastic movements such as spins, somersaults and vaults.

Twenty-five international athletes competed on the course, which included buildings, walls, rails and towers.

Ten made it to the final round, with the UK, the US and Germany taking the top three places.

Organisers described the event as an "outstanding success".

Tim "Livewire" Shieff, from the UK, was crowned 2009 champion, while Victor "Showtime" Lopez, from the US, and Jason Paul, from Germany, came in second and third respectively.

Ahead of the event, free runner Jon Budden told the BBC's Today programme he was inspired to take up the sport after he saw a TV advert showing an office worker climb out of his window and leap from building to building to get home.

"I was playing basketball for county, rugby for county, swimming for county and I saw this advert on TV and thought, wow, this guy is amazing - I want to do this.

A freerunner heads home from the office
This was the advert which inspired many to take up free running

"It caught the imagination of quite a lot of young people."

In competition, contestants are marked in four categories, technical difficulty, execution, creativity and fluidity.

The athletes undertake long hours of gruelling training.

Mr Budden said they frequently pitted themselves against the best.

"There is a guy in our team who did a standing jump competition with Jonathan Edwards - the Olympic gold medallist for the triple jump.

"He is just a guy who has trained on the streets, and done free running for fun.

"He had a longer standing jump. That just shows how much conditioning we do.

"The same way we all did the Royal Marines endurance course first time without any training, in marine time."

The sport originated just over 20 years ago in Paris and was known as Le Parkour.

It also involved urban acrobatics, and was showcased in James Bond film Casino Royale.



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