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Thursday, July 07, 2022

Soaring Para-graph

Dressed in warm woolen clothing,with paragliding paraphernalia in the background,all set against a misty skyline...

Written by Rohan Swamy |
July 29, 2009 4:32:25 am

Ace paraglider Dilip Kotecha speaks about his recent win at the Serial Class Championship in Serbia and his plans to make a mark in future competitions in Poland and Russia

Dressed in warm woolen clothing,with paragliding paraphernalia in the background,all set against a misty skyline,Dilip Kotecha looks all set to pull off another paragliding flight,somewhere high above the hills of mystic Bulgaria. After having secured the first position in the Serial Class Championships and an overall seventh place at the competition in Serbia,Kotecha is ready for another tour of the skies.

“When I started flying in 1995,we lacked everything,from basic flying equipment to training facilities,to experienced trainers. As a result,the initial days were quite tough and I also had some near-death experiences due to faulty equipment and inexperience,” says Kotecha. “But after 2000,I began flying in the Western Ghats and eventually competed in the Himalayan Championship,in the World Championship in Brazil (2005),the Asian Championship in Korea (2004) and also in China,Slovenia,and Switzerland. As of now I will be participating in the Russian and Polish championships,” he adds.

“I battled hostile weather conditions at Nis in Serbia,and also superior technology,which gliders in Europe used. On July 22,during the last leg of the championship,in which I had to cover 48 km,I tripped during take-off and twisted my knee. Despite the excruciating pain,I went ahead with the flight,” he informs. After battling hostile terrain and weather conditions and flying over low treetops,power lines and narrow gorges,Kotecha says he managed to win an overall seventh place,and a first place in the serial class. “The serial class is a classified glider,which is actually much lower in performance than the open class gliders or competition gliders. Eventually,all the weekend trips to Panchgani and the Western Ghats paid off in my win,” he adds with a smile.

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“The weather here is definitely cold but it doesn’t reflect in the attitude of the people. The Serbs are the most hospitable and friendly people that I have seen in all my travels. In fact they have a keen liking for India and most people I interacted with wanted to know more about Mahatma Gandhi and Pt Nehru. It has been a great experience in Serbia and I can’t wait to begin my other competitions in Poland and Russia,” he adds.

About his future plans,Kotecha reveals,“It’s hard to pull off such an expensive sport without sponsorship of any kind. Travelling in Europe on your own funds,and competing against gliders who are technologically more advanced is very hard,but my love for the sport keeps me going.” Kotecha hopes that if he continues to win laurels like these,one day the government will look at the sport and give a serious thought to promoting it. “I think that will be the best thing to happen to this sport and that alone will be reward enough for me,” he adds.

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