â€˜A jump from Mount Everest is next on my listâ€™ http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/interview_a-jump-from-mount-everest-is-next-on-my-list_1505352 Published: Wednesday, Feb 9, 2011, 11:52 IST By Sandip Dighe | Place: Pune | Agency: DNA Shital Mahajan-Rane created a world record by para jumping from the North and South poles without prior experience in any adventure sport. Her name figured in the Limca Book of Records in 2005 for her maiden parachute jump from the North Pole. This 32-year-old science graduate from Fergusson College achieved her dream with grit and determination. The Union government honoured her with the Padma Shri this year for her feat. Shital has settled down in Finland after marrying software engineer Vaibhav and has twin boys. She tells DNA about her achievement and other aspects of adventure sports. What was your reaction after being selected for this prestigious award? I had got a call from Rashtrapati Bhavan in the afternoon on January 25 that I had been selected for the Padma Shri. At that time, I was shopping with my parents in Tulshibag area. I was astounded. I told my parents immediately and they were jubilant. As I look back, I must say that this award has come after a lot of hard work. And credit must go to my parents and the Maharashtra government for whatever I have achieved. What are your achievements so far? When I was in my second year of graduation in Fergusson, I planned to para jump from the North Pole. In April 2004, I became the first woman to jump from the North Pole, which was 24,000 ft above the ground. Two years later, I became the first woman to do a free fall over the South Pole from a height of 15,000 ft. I was the first Indian woman to do a wingsuit jump from an aircraft at a height of 13,000 ft in Spain last year. I was bestowed with the Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award. I also received the Shivchhatrapati State Sports Award from the state government. Para jumping is a costly sport. My parents had to mortgage the house and sell some part of our village land so that I could afford it. I received guidance at the National Defence Academy. In fact, no one other than Indian navy skydivers have the experience of para jumping from the South Pole. So, I took their help too. How did you choose para jumping as a sport in a cricket-crazy country like India? I wanted to do something different. Many sportswomen have excelled in other sports, but none in para jumping. I was always keen about this sport and I am sure I have not made the wrong choice. I earnestly hope that my achievements inspire other girls to take up adventure sports. There is a certain thrill in these kinds of sports. If you try hard, you can achieve anything. You have to work with single-minded dedication to reach your goal. What do you plan to do next? My next mission is to jump from the Mount Everest in October this year. I want to become an internationally reputed professional free fall parachute jumper, so that I can bring glory to this sport, not only in India, but across the world.