Indoor skydiving: 4 titles at Belgian Open give S'poreans confidence ahead of World Cup

(From left) Tobias Chaloupka, Vera Poh, Kai Minejima Lee and Kyra Poh at the Open Belgian Championships Indoor Skydiving 2021. PHOTO: KYRA POH/INSTAGRAM

SINGAPORE - Days before they were set to compete at last month's Belgian Open, Singapore indoor skydivers Kyra Poh, Vera Poh and Kai Minejima Lee were not even sure if the competition would take place as the country had tightened its Covid-19 measures following a surge in cases.

But the uncertainty did not affect the trio, who continued training for their first international competition since the February 2020 Wind Games and their resolve paid off as they swept four titles at the Dec 11-12 event, which took place at Airspace Indoor Skydiving in Charleroi.

Apart from winning the freestyle open category, Kyra also bagged gold medals in the two-way dynamic with younger sister Vera and the four-way dynamic with Vera, Kai and Czech Tobias Chaloupka.

Kai also clinched the gold medal in the freestyle junior discipline.

"It wasn't hard to stay motivated (amid the uncertainty), it's just what we love and so we keep working hard on that," said Kai, 12, who is home schooled. "Even if the competition doesn't happen, we just transfer this training into the next one."

Kyra, 19, added: "It was a really good competition because we haven't competed in a really long time. To be able to come back and win gold in all the categories we took part in was a huge feat.

"The kids took part in 2018 in the same competition, so by going there and showing how good they are and how much progress they had made was really good."

Their performance at the Belgian Open was also a boost for the trio, who are hoping to compete at the 4th Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI) World Cup of Indoor Skydiving 2022, which will take place at the same venue in April.

Kai Minejima Lee (right) posing with his gold medal at the Open Belgian Championships Indoor Skydiving 2021. PHOTO: KYRA POH

They had taken part in the Belgian Open with the World Cup in mind as they wanted to test segments of their routines in the wind tunnel, which is smaller than the one at iFly Singapore, where they usually train.

Kyra said: "It is a confidence booster, but most importantly it gave us a bit of a warm-up. Competitions have been cancelled for a really long time - almost two years - so we wanted to have a smaller-scale competition to go for before the World Cup so that we can go there a little bit more conditioned.

"Every tunnel has a different size, different wind flow and different way of how it affects your body so this competition really helped us get used to the wind so that when we go for the competition in April, we will be even more prepared."

Kyra and Vera Poh (middle of the podium) celebrating their win at the Open Belgian Championships Indoor Skydiving 2021. PHOTO: KYRA POH

While Kyra competed at the 2018 World Cup, where she won a gold medal, it will be Vera and Kai's first appearance at the competition if they are selected for it.

Proving that they could compete against older competitors was also encouraging for Vera and Kai.

"Going up against other adults makes me feel like I have improved a lot and can be in the same category as the other adults," said Vera, 12, who has enrolled at Meridian Secondary School this year.

Over the next few months, Vera and Kai will be in Singapore focusing on their preparations for the World Cup, while Kyra, who is hoping to win the Freestyle Open category in April, will juggle skydiving projects in places such as South America with indoor skydiving.

Kai said: "We've competed there before (Airspace Indoor Skydiving) but that was three years ago so it's kind of getting to know the tunnel - how the wind feels, getting used to the different positions of the door so that you can plan your routine.

"(Now we'll be) focusing on training - there are no competitions coming up (before the World Cup) - and maintaining our fitness."

Join ST's Telegram channel here and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.