With adventure sports, especially paragliding catching up fast is this region, Sikkim has decided to hold an international paragliding competition in December.
Organised by the Sikkim Paragliding Association (SPA) the 1st Sikkim Paragliding red panda International Accuracy Open Championship will be held from December 17 to 21 in Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim.
Around 125 participants from the country and different parts of the globe are expected to take part in this competition. The championship has the endorsement of the Federation Aeronautique International (FAI.)
"Along with popularizing the sport our main objective is to put Sikkim on the global paragliding map" stated Manoj Chettri, Spokesperson, SPA.
Paragliding is a popular adventure sport especially in the states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand in India.
The parameters for judgment are precision landing and consistency. "Each participant will be allowed 6 attempts to land on a designated spot," stated Raju Rai, Technical Head, SPA.
The paragliders will fly off from Anee Gumba hilltop at a height of 1450m. They will land at Khel Gaon, a sports complex ground at Reshithang, around 15km away from Gangtok. The distance they will be covering (between take-off and landing) is 1km aerial distance.
125 paragliders will be allowed to take part from all over the globe. However, 75% of the number has to be from India. "The competitors will be charged 150 Euros. They can register themselves on skpa.org" stated Raj Kumar Subba, President of the SPA.
"There is a lot of raw talent among the youth of this region that needs to be harnessed. They are naturally adapted for such sports. With talks on to include paragliding in the Asian Games further increases future prospects" stated Arjun Rai, an international paraglider from Sikkim.
Cheden Bhutia became the first paraglider from Sikkim to bag a medal in an international event. In the first week of November, she won the bronze in the cross country event at the Open International Paragliding Competition in Nepal.
The competition in Sikkim will be held in three categories namely Men, Women and Team. Cash prizes and trophies will be awarded to the top three in each of the categories.