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Slackline Competition Soars Above China’s Yellow River

Beijing, April 24, 2024, The Europe Today: French slackline walker Benoit Humm captured the attention of spectators as he balanced on a narrow 2.5cm-wide band suspended 170 meters above the ground, with his golden hair fluttering in the breeze. This daring feat unfolded against the backdrop of China’s “Mother River,” the Yellow River, in Hejin city, Shanxi Province, during a high-profile slackline competition that showcased the thrilling and intense nature of the sport.

Slacklining, an extreme sport combining elements of rock climbing, parkour, and gymnastics, challenges athletes to maintain balance on an elevated band, competing in speed or skill-based maneuvers.

During this competition, Humm faced off against his long-time rival, Shi Hailin from China, holder of the Guinness World Record for the fastest 100m slackline walk. Both athletes, adorned in matching outfits as a mutual tribute, prepared for the challenge. Humm, with his right foot bandaged due to a recent injury, exemplified the rigorous demands of their sport.

Despite the injury setback, Humm—fresh from clinching his first gold medal at the World Indoor Championships in Glasgow—progressed to the top four among competitors representing China, Germany, Spain, and other nations. The task required competitors to walk 50 meters on a slackline at a height comparable to half that of the Eiffel Tower.

Following two intense rounds, Humm did not emerge as the victor. Reflecting on the competition, he commented, “I’m really happy to see that. It’s a positive competition because we pull each other up,” highlighting the heightened level of competition since his peak in 2019.

Humm’s affinity for China, where he has competed on numerous occasions, runs deep. He refers to the country as his “blessed land,” particularly recalling his 2019 triumph in Zhangjiajie, a milestone in his career that sparked a surge of interest in slacklining among Chinese enthusiasts, including He Jinyi, who surpassed Humm in the preliminary round and credits him as a key influence.

Slacklining has gained popularity in China, attracting tourists to scenic competitions and serving as a widely accessible activity embraced by people of all ages.

“This sport helps people to balance, to stay calm, and to recover from injury. So I think everybody can do it, not only children, but also the elderly,” remarked Humm, expressing his desire to inspire individuals to pursue ambitious dreams through his story and performances.

Shi emphasized the accessibility of slacklining, noting its practice in universities, parks, and outdoor spaces across major cities, attracting participants as young as six years old.

2024 marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and France, coinciding with the upcoming Paris Olympic Games.

Humm emphasized the cultural similarities between China and France, including rich cuisine and diverse landscapes. He expressed hope that through sports, people from both countries could deepen mutual understanding and explore each other’s hidden beauties.

“The Yellow River holds special significance and power for the Chinese people as the mother river of China. Hosting a competition in such a unique location conveys the spirit of perseverance and resilience to the world,” concluded Humm.