Belfast Telegraph

Belfast free runners think they're indestructible but they're not... someone needs to tell them that before it's too late

By Suzanne Breen

A teenager engaging in a death-defying stunt on the rooftop of a five-storey building in broad daylight in Belfast city centre.

With no protective clothing or safety net, he's leaping between its dormer windows as incredulous passers-by on Royal Avenue watch.

As though we haven't had enough dangerous, deadly crazes here over the years, 'parkouring' is the latest berserk pursuit to be played out by youths on the streets of Northern Ireland.

The young lad in the red top and light blue jeans, and his three friends, undoubtedly saw themselves as daredevils extraordinaire as they soared across the Belfast skyline on a summer's day. Maybe they thought those who looked up at them were in awe of their high-flying act. But people below didn't see heroes. They saw idiotic, irresponsible little boys who were risking not only their own lives, but those of passers-by.

It's difficult to see anyone involved surviving if they came hurtling down onto the pavement, and they could well cause critical injury or death to any unfortunate person on the street upon which they landed. That's a risk they have no right to take.

Read about parkouring online and it sounds like art meets sport. A mixture of "acrobatics and athletics" its advocates claim, that sees buildings as street furniture with which practitioners play. It attracts "interesting and talented" individuals who express themselves by moving fluidly in the urban landscape with no restrictions.

They're unconventional souls who enjoy living on the edge and pushing the limit of what's acceptable. That's why they're found in places they're not supposed to be - like the roofs of high buildings - running, rolling, jumping and vaulting.

It's pure poppycock. YouTube videos show people jumping with cat-like calmness and precision, mastering feats fearlessly. They don't show their blood and brains splattered all over the pavement below.

And make no mistake about it, that's what happens all too often in this foolish, fatal show. One foot placed a fraction of an inch in the wrong place, one little slip, and it's lights out forever. The 13-year-old Greek boy who tumbled through a glass skylight from a seventh floor apartment, the 15-year-old in Sacramento who fell to his death off an eighth floor garage, the 24-year-old Russian who met the same fate from a 17-storey St Petersburg building.

Their battered bodies stand in stark contrast to the propaganda of fans of this "sport". If teenagers want an adrenalin rush from such activities then surely it should be in a secure, controlled environment with safety measures in place.

Without such protections, parkouring isn't a cool pursuit - it's dumbly chasing disaster. The young lads in Belfast might think they're indestructible but they're not. Somebody needs to tell them that loud and clear before it's too late.

Those who have lost their lives already aren't legends in the eyes of the world, they're immature imbeciles.

"I jumped across a building on Royal Avenue," isn't something to be proud of on your headstone.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph