A ST JOHN’S woman will represent the UK in the Paragliding Accuracy World Championships next month.

Myrianthe Ewington is part of a five-strong team heading out to Prilep, North Macedonia, today to join 130 competitors from 36 countries. The competition runs from 7 to 16 October.

“I’m really excited,” Myrianthe said. “I only took up the sport in August last year when a friend suggested I go along to a fun day to try it out. Since then it’s become rather addictive.

“If you’d have said then I’d end up representing the country a year later I’d have laughed.”

Paragliding accuracy involves landing on a target, with the score measured by the number of centimetres a competitor lands away from its the centre.

The competition will be held over 12 rounds, weather permitting, with the winner compiling the lowest total score.

Competitors take off from the local hills and mountains to give themselves the initial height.

“Once you’re in flight you use the hand controls to dictate speed and rate of descent, although you can also shift your weight as well,” Myrianthe added. “You’re flying for about 10 minutes.

“It may look risky, but safety is drummed into us. If you’re coming in too fast or at the wrong angle, forget the target and just land safely. I hate tempting fate but so far I’ve been OK. 

“And we’re going out early to get some final training in to try to understand the local conditions.”

The UK team consists of Myrianthe, Andy Shaw, William Lawrence, Ben Woodcock and Cherry McMahon, all of whom began flying at Green Dragons Airsports in Woldingham, on the North Downs.

Andy represents the experience on the team, having previously won at the championships.

“It’s my first attempt,” said Myrianthe, who works for an organisation which runs events for the global mobility industry and has two teenagers at Woking High School.

“We’ve been training hard over the last few months during the good weather while juggling work and family commitments. And the team has competed at recent national competitions to gain competition experience.

“It has been a big help to have had sponsors for the team kit and training, including the local chartered accountants, PG Fry & Company.

“We go as underdogs, but it’s hard to know now just where we stand. There have been so few competitions over the past 18 months it’s difficult to work out who are the strongest competitors, either as individuals or countries.

“Conditions can be unpredictable, too, the wind can be helpful or work against you. That’s another unknown.

“But I do know that when I get there I’m going to be as competitive as anyone.” 

And Myrianthe knows all about the spirit of competition. She has had a passion for sport since winning gold at Henley Women’s Regatta in the University Eights at the age of 16, and a year later rowed for Great Britain in the coxless four at the Coupe de la Jeunesse, winning bronze. She also represented GB in a pair at Ghent International Regatta, winning silver.

Since then, she has played rugby for Southampton University and Alton WRFC, before playing football and netball.

Now, though, Myrianthe has her eyes on her another target, literally.

“This is the first time the UK team has had two ladies on it, and with a mix of new members and experience, the world championships is going to be an exciting opportunity for us all.

“We would all love to win but ultimately the aim is to perform to our best, safely, and do ourselves and the sport proud.”