Shillong, Oct 2: The Megha Kayak Fest will be held from October 12-14 on the Umtrew river near Umtham village, Ri Bhol district.
Addressing a press conference on Monday, coach Ian Vincent said the event will be held for three days featuring local and international kayakers.
The sixth edition of international white water kayaking competition is organised by Directorate of Sports and Youth Affairs (DSYA), Meghalaya Tourism and Ri Bhoi Water Sports & Tourism Cooperative society.
Larikordor Kharkrang, member of Ri Bhoi Water Sports and Tourism Cooperative Society besides William Weiss Hopkinson, a Kayaker from New Zealand also spoke on the occasion.
The Megha Kayak Fest has become the biggest adventure sports festival in India since 2016, and has become a very popular destination for kayakers from all over the world.
The festival will consist of events like Downriver Sprint (DR), and the Indian National Championship for Canoe Slalom Cross (CSLX), which is open for all international paddlers to compete.
With a huge amount of prize money at stake (approx. 20,000 USD in total) and a large number of whitewater kayakers from around the world participating, the festival promises to be an extremely exciting adventure sports extravaganza. This year, there is a collaboration of Indian Kayaking & Canoeing Association (IKCA) which is a registered body with International Canoe Federation and the recognized body for Kayaking, White-water Rafting, and Slalom events in India.
The aim of the festival is to promote adventure tourism and help establish Meghalaya as one of the major water sports destinations in the world.
The technical organisers for the Megha Kayak Festival at White-Water village Umtham, are lan and Sheela Vincent family. It has been operational since 2015 with the goal to bring Meghalaya onto the map of water sports. lan has many years of experience in kayaking, having represented Australia in the European Cup and the world championships.
Ian saw the immense potential of the sport in Meghalaya and introduced the local youth to kayaking. The efforts have already seen the results in Pynshngain Kurbah, who won Silver in the Canoe Slalom Men’s K1 Division at Khelo India. Further, Elizabeth Vincent is another athlete who excelled among both national and international participants in the Malabar River Festival. For the first seven years, the potential of the river and the youth was tapped with limited financial resources and since last year the state government recognised the scope of it and extended full support to guide and provide financial aid to promote the sport. Thus, the Ri Bhoi Water Sports and Tourism Cooperative Society was formed.
To take the sport further so that the state youth could participate in national and international competitions, the Meghalaya Canoe Association was registered on July 22 2022 which is affiliated to the Indian Kayaking and Canoe Association.
The organisers hope that the people of Meghalaya will wholeheartedly support the event and help in making it a grand success.
The department of sports and youth affairs said that the Megha Kayak Fest is growing in stature as a marquee international event for the sport. “The Government of Meghalaya is proud to support the event and the development of kayaking/canoeing in the state”, it said.
Given the ideal river conditions in many parts of the state for conducting the sport, as well as the promise shown by local kayakers, the long-term aim through supporting such events is of seeing Meghalaya athletes competing against the best, winning, and going on to represent India in the Olympics and other international events, the sports department said, adding that government envisions the confluence of tourism, sports, and community building along the river, creating an ecosystem that stands out not just in India, but the world.