Bronze medallist from The World Games 2017, Canopy Pilot Cornelia Mihai (UAE) has qualified for the Games in 2022. “I want to be able to perform at my best in Birmingham, and win - I want that gold medal!” she says. Cornelia Mihai is our athlete this week Building up to Birmingham!
Canopy Piloting is a high-speed discipline involving small and very agile parachutes and highly trained pilots to fly them. The athletes accelerate their parachutes by flying one or more steep turns and then flatten out to enter the course. Three classic elements define the champion of Canopy Piloting; they are accuracy, speed and distance.
Mihai started with Skydiving, in Romania following her friends, but she began Canopy Piloting only later on, in Portugal, because she wanted to compete. Currently she resides in the United Arab Emirates. “Initially I chose Canopy Piloting because it's an individual sport and the circumstances were like that at the time, but after my first competition I realised it’s a brotherhood even though we compete against each other,” she says.
“The main training for Canopy Piloting consists of jumping regularly, so we become consistent, but it’s also very important to train quite a bit at the venue prior to the competition (at least 50 jumps before a world-level event). Also I need to be fit and strong, so that I can stand up on my landings and not get injured,” Mihai explains. When asked how many hours she trains, she says that before a competition, they train the whole day from when the drop-zone opens around 9 am until sunset. If a young person wants to start Canopy Piloting, they have to start with Skydiving first, normally at a minimum age of 18. “Then you need to get some experience, at least around 800 jumps, before you can move on to Canopy Piloting,” Cornelia Mihai explains.
In 2022, besides winning gold at The World Games, Mihai’s goal is to become World Champion overall. Her fiercest rival right now is the current World Champion Cedric Veiga Rios from France. As a curiosity, both Cornelia Mihai and Cedric Veiga Rios have at one time taken over The World Games Instagram stories, and you can see how their days looked like back then by visiting www.instagram.com/theworldgames -> highlights.
Regarding The World Games 2022, besides competing herself, Cornelia Mihai is looking forward to seeing other athletes in action. She would like to see, at least, Archery, Parkour, Muaythai, Sport Climbing, Waterski and Wakeboard. And if she had to choose another sport to compete in, it would be Muaythai! However, her hobbies include another The World Games sport, one that has its début in Birmingham: drone flying. “Skydiving is a big part of my life,” Mihai tells. “I skydive as a job 5 days a week, and skydive for myself/train the other 2 days. I also fly drones a bit, do indoor skydiving and try to get better at my 5km runs.”
On social media Mihai had, amongst other questions, one about the biggest challenge in her career. “For me, the biggest challenge has been to be a little bit arrogant (confident) and go into a competition with the confidence that I can win it. I always have to work on that ... it doesn't come naturally to me.”
Cornelia Mihai says her biggest achievement so far is the bronze medal from The World Games 2017 in Wroclaw, Poland. “In Wroclaw, after winning the bronze, I remember my team-mate Abdulbari threw me in the swoop pond!” In Birmingham, she will try to find her confidence and climb up to the highest podium at the end. And maybe end up in the pond again?
The World Games is a multi-sport event staged every four years by the International World Games Association, organised with the support of the International Olympic Committee. The 11th edition of The World Games will be held in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, 7-17 July 2022. 3,600 athletes from 34 sports and over 100 countries will take part in The World Games.