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Why do people do extreme sports? -

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PETER CAVE: Jumping off the top of a mountain in a suit fitted with wings might sound like a death
wish to most but there are others who call it the experience of a lifetime and a way to make a
living.

As technology improves extreme sports have picked up speed and made the seemingly impossible the
next challenge. But why do they do it?

One sports psychologist at the University of Queensland has been trying to find out.

Elyse Denman reports.

ELYSE DENMAN: Back in 1992 Glenn Singleman was standing on the edge of a 300 foot high crane and
about to jump.

GLENN SINGLEMAN: When Roosevelt said we've got nothing to fear but fear itself...

MALE: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Just jump!

GLENN SINGLEMAN: He wasn't standing in a situation like this.

ELYSE DENMAN: Equipped with only a parachute and steel nerves it was the beginning of an addiction
to wing suit jumping.

GLENN SINGLEMAN: I couldn't believe it; I just thought this is it. It's not going to open. I really
thought for a couple of seconds, it is not going to open. And whack! It was open and I looked up
and there it was. And it's so alive, so alive.

ELYSE DENMAN: Now with four world records under his belt he knows a thing or two about commitment
to an extreme sport.

That's why Dr Eric Brymer from Queensland University of Technology found Glenn Singleman to be a
prime subject for his research on extreme sports.

Dr Brymer says most literature to date presents extreme sports people as thrill seekers putting
their lives in danger for an adrenaline rush but after looking at levels of risk taken in sports
like sky diving, base jumping and big wave surfing, he has his doubts.

ERIC BRYMER: The bottom line is participants do not consider that what they're doing is about risk
taking. And the reason is because they understand the environment and the task and their own level
of skill and ability - that's emotional, physical, psychological etc - so well that they are able
to control the situation to such a high level that risk really doesn't come into it.

ELYSE DENMAN: Jan Lewis is a lecturer on psychology and extreme sports at Central Queensland
University. She believes that Dr Brymer's research will help people better understand the
experience of extreme sports.

JAN LEWIS: I think it's them expressing a life wish. They want to enjoy life to the absolute
fullest they possibly can and they get a huge amount of enjoyment if they're doing extreme sports
well. It's about being the best they possibly can be which sometimes in their normal work role they
can't do that.

ELYSE DENMAN: Glenn Singleman agrees.

GLENN SINGLEMAN: Contrary to popular belief we don't have a death wish but we are motivated driven
people with high I guess ambition and we want to know what's possible.

The real question is when you go beyond your fears what is possible? What can we use technology to
achieve? And you know with the level of technology that's around now you can do truly amazing
things.

ELYSE DENMAN: The Sydney based adventurers Justin Jones and James Castrission are in a similar
situation.

The first people to ever successfully kayak across the Tasman Sea from Australia to New Zealand,
they set out on the daunting expedition in 2008 to find out exactly what they were made of.

JAMES CASTRISSION: By both of us pushing our own boundaries so far physically, mentally,
emotionally, all those boundaries so far, we got to see what we were capable of as well.

PETER CAVE: And you can see more of that story on our website. Elyse Denman was our reporter there.