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       High-wire walking world record

     [May 5] SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA / Contestants from all over the world have convened in South Korea to try and break the world record for high-wire walking.
     The contestants -- 14 men and four women -- included such notable masters of the high wire as American Jade Kindar-Martin, who crossed London's Thames River, and Colombia's Alan Martinez, who ambled across the Amazon.  
    The competition was held across the Han River in Seoul in South Korea with 18 daredevils taking part from the US, South America, Asia and Europe.
    Participants had to walk on a 30mm thick iron wire stretching one kilometre - holding a seven metre long rod. US competitor Pedro Carrilo said: "It was beautiful. It was the most beautiful thing I ever seen in my life. I demand to do this and I wish we do this, at least one or two times a year."
   The world record for high-wire walking was broken by Chinese contestant Kwon Won-tae in a time of 17 minutes six seconds. "I've been walking on wire for the past 30 years, but this was the most difficult experience ever," he said.
    But his moment of glory was cruelly snatched away when another Chinese contestant, Abusataer Wujiabuduia, topped the mark crossing the wire in just over 11 minutes.
   Abudusataer Wujiabudula walked away with a $US15,000 ($A18,240) prize, after 17 other competitors failed to beat his time of 11 minutes, 22.49 seconds recorded on Thursday, when the three day competition opened.
    Colombia's Alan Martinez, who has ambled across the Amazon, came second, walking the length of the 30 mm wire in 11 minutes, 30.54 seconds.
    Jade Kindar-Martin of the United States, who crossed London's Thames River, crossed the wire in 11 minutes, 35.54 seconds, taking third place.
    The metal wire across the Han was supported by 22 metre towers on each bank of the river. A safety net was deployed under the sections of the wire over the river banks, but otherwise the walkers faced a plunge into the swirling greyish water if they slipped.
   Contestants wore life vests and motor boats patrolled the river to scoop up the unsteady.

Only two contestants - Russia's Alexey Marchenko and China's Wang Hui - fell in. Aleksei Marchenko was disqualified after falling into the river, with only 50m to go.
Alexey Marchenko of Russia participates in the first World High Wire Championships in Seoul. Photo: Reuters
    South Korea has a tradition of tightrope walking going back centuries, but the skill has recently experienced a renaissance after last year's hit film King and the Clown, which featured a troupe of entertainers who became court jesters.
    In the Korean tradition, tightrope walkers use fans to maintain balance and also perform jumps and somersaults - while even cracking jokes to amuse their audience.

  Video: High-wire walking world record