Aussie teen becomes weird world champ
AUSTRALIA has a new world champion after teenager Rudi Browning became the first ever FAI Drone Racing champion in China on Sunday.
The 15-year-old from Brisbane conquered 127 rivals from 34 countries around the world to earn the title of the world's fastest drone pilot in the first-ever event of its kind.
Browning took home the winner's prize of $US24,000 in front of 10,000 screaming fans in China's Shenzen Universiade Centre Stadium.
He had to navigate his way through four days of competition in China's Silicon Valley before eventually triumphing over Bastian Hackl of Austria.
Browning's solo performance also helped the Australian team to win the competition's overall group title ahead of Sweden and South Korea, Reuters reports.
It means the high school student is also entitled to one-fifth of the $US24,000 team competition first-placed prize.
In a statement released by the sport's governing body earlier this week, Browning said he had "dreamt of this" coming true.
"I'm still shaking actually," Browning said.
"I have had a lot of ups and downs in races, like everyone, and this is definitely one massive high. I can't thank everyone enough.
"It feels absolutely amazing. I dreamed of this, and it is incredible that it has come true. I couldn't be happier.
"I am a very competitive person and I aim high. The goal was to win everything I could. A lot of luck comes into it, as well as skill, so everything came together and I am super happy."
He may not be a name you've heard of before, but Browning's performance was broadcast live on China's Tencent network. He's also been featured in interviews with the BBC and Network 10's The Project.
Rudi's father Guy Browning told The Gold Coast Bulletin this week his son had been building up to the championships with an enormous amount of work and local competition experience.
"It has taken a lot of time and dedication to get where he is," he said.
"I am still shocked by it all."
HOW PROFESSIONAL DRONE RACING WORKS
Drone racing national associations have been established all over the world recently as the number of drones continues to rise. The ABC estimates more than 100 drones have been purchased in Australia alone.
Pilots wear customised video goggles synched with the streaming camera on-board their drone craft. They then use a remote control to fly and manoeuvre their drone through the first-person view provided by their goggles.
In the championship races under FAI rules observed at the weekend's event, four pilots compete each race, going head to head on the track at the same time. The first to complete three laps is the winner.
The Shenzen track was fitted out with tight turns, obstacles and gates.
Designed in the shape of a Chinese knot, according to the FAI, the track was 650m and included three different levels for pilots to negotiate.
The finals were carried out at night with the track lit up by 7000m of LED lights.