A teen British paraglider pilot from Sheffield has won the European Paragliding Championships 2018 in Portugal, in a nail-biting competition that came down to the wire.
Theo Warden, 19, won the 10-day championships against stiff competition from some of the best paraglider pilots in Europe.
Some 150 pilots from 28 countries took part in the European Paragliding Championships, which were held in Montalegre, Portugal last month.
After eight tasks (53-93km) over 10 days, Theo beat Germany’s Torsten Siegel into second place by only two points.
Theo scored a total of 5,348 points, with Torsten on 5,346. Italian Biagio Alberto Vitale was third, just 20 points behind Theo in first place.
At only 19 Theo is one of the youngest-ever winners of the title.
Afterwards he said: “I can’t really believe it. I don’t really feel like I’m ready to be winning a comp. I feel very new to the comp scene so it all feels a bit fast.”
He added: “I’m young, but I still have so much to learn, and I can’t wait for it. It’s going to be an awesome experience. A good journey. I really hope to carry on, to fly the PWC and hopefully the World Championships.
Theo’s Dad, John Warden, said: “I had confidence in his talent and attitude, but this level of success has come unexpectedly soon. I am so pleased for him.”
Theo Warden’s success comes after a rapid rise through the ranks of competition paragliding.
He was taught to fly when he was just 14 by Judy Leden, a former hang gliding and paragliding world champion. Judy was Theo’s instructor at Airways Airsports in Derbyshire, England.
Today Judy Leden said: “Theo learned to fly with us at Airways Airsports at the age of 14. His meteoric rise from Club Pilot to European Champion has taken just five years of hard work and dedication. We are immensely proud of the small role we played in teaching Theo the basics.”
Since then his progression through the competition scene has been swift, resulting in his first international gold medal at the European Paragliding Championships in Portugal on 28 July 2018.