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Skies clear with title won

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January 24, 2017

The World Gliding Championships drew to a close on Saturday in Benalla and, on a dramatic final day, all medal positions were still up for grabs.

The World Gliding Championships drew to a close on Saturday in Benalla and, on a dramatic final day, all medal positions were still up for grabs.

In tricky weather conditions Saturday’s penultimate race revealed that those who made it around the course first in their division were most likely to be awarded a medal.

On the most difficult flying day of the championships, Britain’s Russell Cheetham’s consistent performance across the nine race days saw him claim gold in the open class, ahead of German Michael Sommer (silver) and fellow countryman Andrew Davis (bronze).

On landing, gold medallist Cheetham expressed his delight at finishing the race first, but was still unsure whether he had won the championship or not.

‘‘It was very tricky, but I am happy to make it back in the end,’’ Cheetham said.

‘‘Michael probably thinks he got me and he probably has, we just do not know.

‘‘It was very tight and we will find out in 15 minutes how the points add up.’’

In the end Cheetham’s consistency saw him win gold, clinching victory by just 13 points over his opponents.

In other events, France’s Killian Walbrou claimed gold in the 18m class, Sebastian Kawa of Poland took home the 15m class, while Britain was awarded gold for best team performance.

The two-week event started with 116 participants, but a mid-air plane collision saw that drop to 114, after two pilots were forced to parachute to a safe landing.

World Gliding Championships spokesperson Sean Young was thrilled with how the event panned out, barring the collision.

‘‘It was a great two weeks of gliding,’’ Young said.

‘‘The politeness, camaraderie but also the rivalry was great to witness as all but two gliders finished unscathed.

‘‘The people of Benalla were also great, they were inundated by around 200 people from all over the world but they embraced us to help put together a great event.’’

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