13 Juni 2011

Trip to Kuwait, timezone UTC +3

I had completely forgotten what 45 degrees centigrade mean – long time ago on our Moyes record flight expeditions to Wilcannia we experienced those temperatures more than once. And now again in Kuwait I felt the wind like a hot hair dryer in my face, not cooling, but stinging on the lips, evaporating every possible drop of sweat straight away. I told Bill Moyes that I quit work at 45 C because it is just too much. People in Kuwait are allowed to stop when it is 50 C, so the official numbers never move past 48 C, I was told by Bashar Al Huneidi.

Florian Wagner told me I have to meet his friend Bashar when I go to Kuwait, so he made the contact and we met yesterday. It is unique to meet a professional skier who is absolutely passionate about snow in the country of deserts and sand storms... Bashar had even participated in skiing world championships! He critcized that the qualification rules had been changed for olympic games, so he can´t go anymore. He said it is not just about the peak performance, but also about meeting different people from different cultures in order to promote friendship and fairness amongst all the people in the world that´s the olympic spirit!

I very much agree with Bashar on this one and I was very disappointed when the CIVL changed our qualification rules for the major hang gliding events too, which means that for example most Turkish pilots and other nations that are not as „big“ in our sport (and are not supported by sponsors, government or nacs) can´t compete at the European championships anymore, let alone the worlds. I have always enjoyed meeting pilots from countries that are not immediately connected hang gliding, like many central and south american countries. It is about loosing prejudices and enhancing tolerance and knowledge about the other cultures on a much more intense level than you ever could as a „tourist“. Bashar is so right when he says that in his opinion, it is now more important than ever to let Arabian athletes from muslim countries participate in international sports events to show that values like fairness and tolerance exist everywhere and the extremists and fundamentalists are a minority that will never rule the world.

Most of the time, I am a „foreigner“ whenever I touch the ground after a flight, but I have always been treated with great hospitality, respect and friendship. So to me the concept of racism is very alien. Let me see – some of my best friends are from New Zealand, Australia, Slovenia, Mexico, Russia, Argentina, the U.S., Japan, Italy, Canada, Brazil, Norway,.... – oh yes, a few from Germany as well! Many people are not as privileged as me and can´t travel as much and freely around the globe, can´t meet people as easily like me through the sport and my jobs. So it is even more important to admit everybody from every nation to the big competitions, to make these meetings possible! To show that people who share for example the great passion of flying have a lot in common and different political, ideological or religious beliefs can´t tear them apart.

I hope the new qualification rules will be reviewed and changed soon – hey Bashar, it´s about time for the first hang glider pilot from Kuwait in history participating in the world championships, call me if your daughter needs an instructor and coach!

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