Posted 1 years ago

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Katya Ida Coelho: India's Sole Female Youth Olympics Windsurfer

Katya Ida Coelho: India's Sole Female Youth Olympics Windsurfer
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I'm The Only Female Windsurfer to Represent India in Youth Olympics - Katya Ida Coelho.

Every parent wants their kids to do well in school but there are few who encourage their children to take up sports as their career goal. 

Goa's Katya Coelho is one such example who has made her mark in the sports arena by reaching the Asian Games and Olympics.

That impossible milestone has become possible due to the sheer support of her parents, especially her father Mr. Donald Coleho, who trained Katya from the age of 11 and made her India's top windsurfer.

Katya Coelho is the first female iQFoiler to represent India on international podiums. iQFoil is a windsurfing class selected by World Sailing to replace the RS:X for the 2024 Summer Olympics. The discipline is similar to Formula Windsurfing.

Born and raised in Goa, Katya Coelho is an international-level windsurfer. She is the first and only Indian female windsurfer to have competed in the Youth Olympics in 2014 and the first female Indian windsurfer at the Asian Games in 2018.

Katya Coelho has 10 national gold medals to her name and 2 bronze at the Asian Open Championship in Techno 2015 and won gold in the iQFoil Women's Class at YAI Senior Nationals and 1st round of Asian Games Selection Trials recently.

Katya is currently represented by ENGN, an athlete representation company that exclusively works with Indian sportswomen. The company focuses exclusively on India's female athletes.

Katya's childhood.

Since her childhood, Katya has always been curious and wanted to explore the big vast ocean. So, she started sailing at the age of 11 years. "Being on the water gives me a sense of freedom, gliding over the waves and just feeling the breeze brush by makes me feel wholesome," said Katya.

To be very honest, windsurfing came to Katya very naturally. Her father is a national medalist in windsurfing as well as her brother too. She was very fond of the ocean and seas since her childhood.

Inspirations

One of the few people Katya really looks up to is Mary Kom. She loved her struggling journey. She is someone who inspires her till today. Another person is Hima Das. Katya has been inspired by her determination. The kind of sporting spirit that she has, is something she really looks up to.

Katya had the chance of meeting Hima Das during the 2018 Asian Games. That was very inspiring for Katya to see her perform the way she does.

Windsurfing is a combination of sailing and surfing, where a windsurfer balances on the water while controlling the wind.

While training in the water, Katya used to get minor injuries, such as sunburn and rashes on her skin, due to excessive heat.

In spite of the pain, she says that she had a bigger problem on her plate — the absence of female competitors in the sport. "This compelled me to take part in the men's category," said Katya.

She participated in many national competitions where she had to compete with men in strength. So far, she has won 10 national golds and two Asian Open Championship bronzes in Techno 2015.

With a fierce passion for the sport, she further went on to win India's first-ever international medal in iQFoil — the Olympic Windsurfing class, and also secured the second position at the International Windsurfing Cup in Thailand in 2022.

The major challenge that Katya faced was the lack of support from the Government and the authorities and she had to struggle to get funds from the sports department. "I have not yet received any sponsorship for the equipment I use but hopefully I'll get it in a couple of months. To date, all the equipment that I have was bought from the prize money that I had received and I had to spend almost all the money and I am still paying the installments for the loans that I had to take to get the equipment."

Katya also supports her passion for sports by spending the money made from small businesses that she had engaged in. "I started my own start-up called 'The Boho Store', here I use recycled fabrics from my mom's store and make different things from them. I also design the shoes and whatever money I get from that I spend on myself and my equipment," she said. 

In our country, sports is not always considered a profession, but a recreational activity, which is a sad part of our society when they ask a sportsperson what he or she is doing.

Katya was also not spared from this social stigma. She joined a fashion design course just for the sake of a certificate and to show society that she is doing something.

Message for young athletes from Katya Coelho.

I truly believe that sports is the most beautiful thing that has happened to me. It has kept me physically fit and mentally strong. More than winning, we lose in our entire career.  I think sports should be taught in every school. Education is also important, but sports can help us immensely.

My advice would be to just do it. Everything will fall into place. When I first started it was tough for me. If you have your aims and goals and if you are on the right track you will achieve your goals. So - Set Your Goal at Young Age and Work For it.

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