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Young Laotians break out of the communist mold

Freerunners practise flips along the Mekong river in Vientiane. (Photo by Preeti Jha)

VIENTIANE -- With a nimble leap the boys scale railings and somersault into the air. As they navigate the contours of their city, the first freerunners of Laos hope the urban sport will catapult the once-isolated communist nation onto the world stage.

Vientiane, the country's capital, is their springboard. It is the heart of a very small but expanding middle class in one of Southeast Asia's poorest nations, where creativity buds within the parameters of authoritarian rule.

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