UNICON Press Coverage

Balanced unicyclist refuses to take life too seriously

Annemarie Evans
445 words
22 July 2004
South China Morning Post
© 2004 South China Morning Post Publishers Limited, Hong Kong. All rights reserved.

Why use two wheels when one will do?

Tomorrow American Stephen Dressler heads to Tokyo with 10 other unicyclists from Hong Kong to compete in the 10-day World Unicycling Games.

The games involve competitions for acrobatics, team sports including hockey and basketball, and unicycle races, and the Hong Kong team hopes to be among the medals.

Mr Dressler, Hong Kong’s representative on the International Unicycling Federation, makes it look so easy as he pops onto the unicycle - no hands and both feet firmly on the pedals.

“Shoulders back, straight back. It should take your body about an hour to find its equilibrium,” he says as a crowd gathers to watch the rather eccentric American beside the clock tower on the waterfront at Tsim Sha Tsui.

“It’s that first hour that kills off about 99 per cent of potential unicyclists,” he says, rolling the unicycle back and forth. He can make it hop as well, and spin.

“Once you get past that first hour, it suddenly dawns on you, wow I’m doing this!”

Mr Dressler, 43, who runs a moving company which keeps him fit, came to Hong Kong in 1985 with the dream of seeing the unicycle acrobats in Shenyang, Beijing and Shanghai. “They’re just awesome and defy laws of gravity. Ever since I began unicycling at the age of nine I had wanted to see them.”

After learning some Putonghua, he headed to the mainland in 1986. During the trip, he and two friends unicycled 3km along the Great Wall.

“We went to the left and to the right as far as we could go,” he says.

When he first came to Hong Kong as a bank employee, he lived at Mui Wo on Lantau and used to unicycle in his suit to the ferry every day.

In 1992, Mr Dressler headed to the unicycling games for the first time, the only Hong Kong competitor in Quebec City.

His partner, Vienna Wong, waved the Hong Kong flag while balancing on his shoulders as he slowly pedalled the unicycle in the parade at the opening ceremony. She was his star student at the time, and he was so impressed, they were married soon after the games.

“The games are held once every two years and began 24 years ago in New York,” he says. “There are track events at the games, including the 100-metre dash, 400 metres, 1,500 metres and 10km marathon.”

Of his hobby and chosen mode of transport, he says: “It’s important not to take life too seriously. This keeps everyone around me smiling.”

Exeter unicyclists take on the world

224 words
21 July 2004
Express and Echo
© 2004 Express & Echo .

Sarah Miller and Paul Selwood left Exeter today on their way to represent Great Britain in the Unicycle World Championships in Japan.

The 12-strong British Unicycle team will be taking on the best in the world in a number of one-wheeled sports at the former Olympic facilities in Tokyo.

The Brits will be competing in unicycle hockey and mountain unicycle races, along with track and road racing.

Selwood is defending a bronze in the 10km road race and Miller is defending a silver medal in the ladies’ mountain unicycle XC and hopes to place well in the 10km.

Another member of the UK team, Roger Davies, is defending a gold in the 10km.

Miller and Selwood have been training for the World championship races with mountain unicycle rides at Haldon Forest and Woodbury Common, plus regular rides along the riverside path. Other members of the British team come from Bristol, Middlesborough and the Midlands.

Unicycling, although small in the UK, is big in Japan, with more than 700 of the 900 competitors in the championships coming from the host nation.

Miller said: “The World Championships are a fantastic opportunity to meet, race and party with the best unicycle riders in the world. It’s great having so many people with the same interest in one place.”

good on you sarah and paul!

and roger!

One-wheel wonder woman

513 words
17 August 2004
Express and Echo
© 2004 Express & Echo .

A unicycling couple from Exeter have returned from a successful 10-day medal quest at the Unicycle World Championships in Japan.

Husband-and-wife team Sarah Miller and Paul Selwood, of Beacon Heath, returned from the championships in Tokyo with three silvers and a bronze.

While most people might not consider unicycling to be a serious sport, the pair are thrilled to have excelled in a field of 1,200 competitors from 17 countries.

Freelance lighting technician Sarah, 32, said the event was the largest ever gathering of competitive international unicyclists.

She said: “It was amazing to be among so many diverse people with the same interest in common.”

Sarah came second in the mountain races, including the uphill, the downhill and cross-country event.

She said: "You compete in age groups, so it’s fairer.

"Although I am only in my 30s I am categorised as a lady veteran.

“It was pretty hard going, and the courses consisted of a variety of different surfaces from gravel to grassland.”

Multi-talented in her unicycling, Sarah also came third in the long jump and high jump, although she is slightly coy about her distances.

She said: "I managed only 16cm (just over six inches) in the high jump, which is not very impressive at all. The top jump was around 70cm (two feet four inches) by a 16-year-old boy.

"In the long jump I managed a fairly respectable 70cm.

“While these results are not exactly amazing, they were more than enough to beat most of the opposition in my age group.”

Met Office IT specialist Paul, 34, had set out to defend his bronze for the 10km marathon, but fell foul of the super-fast Japanese opposition.

Sarah added: "He came fifth in the 10km and sixth in the cross-country.

“It was a shame - there were some competitors there who were not at the last competition. Also, weight restrictions on the flight meant Paul could not take his favourite unicycle.”

The silver in the 10km went while the British unicycle hockey team went out in the quarter finals.

Sarah and Paul met through their pastime, playing unicycle hockey in London before moving to Devon.

Paul was relocated as part of the Met Office move to Exeter from Bracknell.

The couple spend several hours a week practising their one-wheeled art.

And they still attend occasional hockey matches and practise in the capital when they can.

Sarah said: “There is no real organisation down here to speak of, but there is the odd meeting in Devon.”

She and Paul have no desire to see unicycling becoming an Olympic sport.

Sarah said: "It would be a real shame to see it professionalised.

" It is a fun, amateur sport and I would not want to see it ruined by sponsorship and big money deals."

Now the couple are looking ahead to the next world championships in 2006.

Sarah said: “These were my third world championships and Paul’s second, but we’ve still got at least one left in us.”