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Onward Through The Air

From The World Games 2013 Cali, COL, the participation of air sports changed dramatically. While multiple and contrasting parachuting/skydiving disciplines were included in four previous editions, two different air sports - with three events between them - featured on the program of 2013 Cali. Four years later, in The World Games 2017 Wroclaw, POL, three air sports with one mixed event each were put forward by the FAI.

Nicolas BATSCH, USA, at TWG 2017

The decision to broaden the spectrum of its sports on the part of FAI was not only political, it was also perfectly defensible. When the IOC recognized FAI and air sports in 1985, it did so by recognizing ballooning, gliding, hang gliding and parachuting specifically. All of them were compliant with the Olympic Charter rule prohibiting mechanical propulsion (at the time). All of these air sports were equals and entitled to appear in the Olympic Games or - failing that - in The World Games.

That FAI first became affiliated with the IWGA was the direct result of parachuting/skydiving actively campaigning for membership from 1992. Parachuting/skydiving had performed impeccably by staging its events in three editions of The World Games (1997 - 2005), but it fell somewhat short in one (2009). That it is now left with one single event - Canopy Piloting - is the consequence. That Accuracy Landing (mixed) was replaced with Paragliding Accuracy Landing (M, W) in 2013 Cali was a rather unfortunate choice, if one looks at the bigger picture of getting a coherent message on air sports across with it.

As a former Formation Skydiving athlete and a championship director in virtually all parachuting/skydiving disciplines I did regret the decision by FAI - and IWGA. But I have started to accept it by now. I am just glad that "Canopy Piloting" had prevailed over "Swooping" in a debate over nomenclature by FAI/IPC.

Cali 2013 was in my personal view the warmest and most emotional edition of all The World Games held to date. Involved in communications for both the IWGA and the World DanceSport Federation at the time, I lived some of the most unique experiences in this Colombian city from very close range. 17,000 spectators packing a bullfighting ring to the last place on two consecutive nights to watch Salsa, Latin and Standard dances performed by the world's best is one of the lasting memories in my nearly 50 years in international sports.

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