It’s tough to pursue paragliding as sports in Nepal: GurungNepali paragliders narrowly missed out on what would have been a historic gold medal at the 18th Asian Games in Indonesia held on August 18-September 2.
Nepali paragliders narrowly missed out on what would have been a historic gold medal at the 18th Asian Games in Indonesia held on August 18-September 2.
Nepal was restricted to silver after finishing just 27 points behind eventual champion Japan on the fifth and final round of the men’s Cross Country team event. The Nepali paragliders comprising of Ukesh Gurung, Bijay Gautam, Bimal Adhikari, Sushil Gurung and Bishal Thapa scored a total 11,364 points while Japan finished just ahead at 11,391 points.
Ukesh, one of the key member of Nepali paragliding team in Indonesia, once again shone during the Paragliding Accuracy World Cup held in Swarek, Syangja this weekend. Nepal, who opted with the same five paragliders for Accuracy event, clinched bronze medal with Ukesh playing a crucial role.
Despite the recent international success, the 17-year-old believes its extremely difficult for an individual to take up paragliding as sports. All the Nepali paragliders, who represented Nepal at the Asiad or the Accuracy World Cup, are professional pilots who earn their breaks working for private companies. Around 65 paragliding companies are in operation in Pokhara and all the licensed pilots work for one of these companies. “A paragliding set including glider, harness and reserve parachute cost at least Rs 1 million which I believe is too costly for any enthusiast to take up the sport on his/her own,” said Ukesh who took up a first flight at Sarangkot at the age of nine. “I could only make it the field because my father is a professional paraglider,” said Ukesh who is a licensed pilot. His father Bhupal Singh himself runs Frontiers Paragliding company.
“My father is a professional pilot, it his job. But I am taking paragliding just as a sport,” said Ukesh. “I always look for an opportunity to take part in competition and hope to become a successful players in future,” said the 17-year-old who believes Nepal has a great future in the sports. “But we need regular games for that.”
Ukesh glides through the air on a regular basis depending on the weather. Apart from gliding in Kaski, he also the experience of gliding in Syangja, Dharan and Lamjung. “I feel really happy gliding through the Sarangkot, not just for its majestic panorama but also because its where I took up the sport since my childhood,” added Ukesh.