A Cook Islander has become the first ever world champion in the sport of coconut tree climbing, it's been reported.
George Iona emerged the winner in a field of 16 entrants, winning by the smallest of margins, Tahiti's Radio 1 reports. He scaled the eight-metre (26.25 feet) tree in 5.62 seconds at the event in the garden of the Tahiti Museum. His time was just one hundredth of a second ahead of American Samoa's Fiapa'i Ellio, the pre-race favourite.
The objective of the new sport is simple, Tahiti TMTV says: Climb the tree as quickly as possible, with each climber being given two attempts to post their best time. The winning tactic appears to entail wearing a loop of rough rope around the ankles, allowing better purchase on the trunk.
Speaking to Tahiti's Radio 1, event organiser Enoch Laughlin said that Mr Iona's triumph came as a big surprise, as everyone had expected the Samoan athlete to win following his impressive performance in previous heats. The victor simply told reporters that he was "proud and happy to have won this championship".
Reporting by Alistair Coleman
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