independent

Wednesday 17 July 2019

Sky's the limit for Bogdan

Bogdan Bailka having completed a record paraglide
Bogdan Bailka having completed a record paraglide

David Looby

A paraglider who lives in New Ross will become the first person to represent Ireland at the world paragliding championships this summer.

Bogdan Bailka, 42, has lived in New Ross for the last 14 years. The Polish national was called to represent Ireland in April 2018 and is the only Irish paraglider to compete at major competitions. Flying on his paraglider (Ozone Enzo 3) his first flight took him from Mt Slievenakilla in Co. Leitrim. The distance record was beaten in two categories. Open distance of 210 km and a total distance of 215km. In total Bogdan was flying for five hours 27 minutes, landing in Piltown, Co. Waterford.

On the following day both records were beaten again, but this time from south to north. Bogdan took off from Mt Leinster, Co. Carlow, and after five hours and 58 minutes he landed near Irvinestown in Northern Ireland. Improved records of 217 km open distance and 227 km total distance were recorded.

Bogdan participates in most of major competitions all over the world. He will be representing Ireland at World Championship for the first time in August this year. 'This year will be my first World Championship. I competed in the European Championships last year and was sponsored, in part, by Integer for that. It's taking place In Krushevo, Macedonia, from August 5 to August 18. 150 of the best pilots from all over the world will be racing against each other. It's the first time in the history that Ireland is represented in the World Championship, and it's me, a modest lad from Rosbercon.'

Bogdan, who works at Integer, said: `Winning comes down to seconds of a difference. It's like Formula One in that respect. I will be competing against 150 paragliders from across Europe and there will only be seconds between the top 50 so it's very difficult (to win).'

Bogdan said he is excited to be making history by being the first Irish resident to represent the country at the championships.

`I am training hard, whenever I can. I travel a lot all my life is training. I just love the sport. It is great, but can be very expensive. It costs €1,500 just to enter championships.'

Bogdan got hooked on the sport when he tried a tandem flight 12 years ago in Turkey. He loved the feeling of being exposed to air, space and altitude in a harness with his legs hanging out mid-air.

A member of the Irish Handgliding and Paragliding Association, he travels all over Ireland and Europe to glide and to hike and glide. He said being fit is important, but not essential, adding that people aged over 70 participate in the sport. `My aim is to be world or European champion. I am the only member of the national team so hopefully I can bring on a few more people to be members with me.'

Bogdan is looking for a sponsor and can be contacted on 085 7214764.

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