Singapore Poised for Greatness Ahead of 2022 FAI World Cup
Singaporeans Vera Poh, Kyra Poh, and Kai Minejima Lee soared their way to an incredible four first-place podiums in last month’s Belgian Open.
Despite a haphazard schedule and COVID restrictions hamstringing their training for much of the past two years, Singaporean skydivers Vera and Kyra Poh, along with countryman Kai Minejima Lee, have managed to stay in top form.
The trio managed to win a whopping four gold medals in last month’s Belgian Open (December 11-12), their first international competition in nearly two years, since the Wind Games in February 2020.
Kyra (19) and her younger sister Vera (12) took first place in the 2-way Dynamic category. The sisters and Minejima Lee (12) then won first in 4-way Dynamic (with the Czech flier Tobias Chaloupka as their fourth team member).
The elder Poh, one of the most well-known indoor and outdoor skydivers on the scene right now, also took gold in the Freestyle Open, a solo category, while Minejima Lee won gold in Junior Freestyle, for a grand total of four first-place medals among a mere three athletes. To add to the feat, this meant that the quartet won gold in every category they entered.
“It was a really good competition because we haven’t competed in a really long time,” Kyra Poh said. “To be able to come back and win gold in all the categories we took part in was a huge feat. [Vera and Minejima Lee] took part in 2018 in the same competition, so going there and showing how good they are and how much progress [they have] made was really good.”
“It wasn’t hard to stay motivated,” Minejima Lee told The Straits Times, a Singaporean newspaper, when asked about the difficulties of training and traveling amid the uncertainties brought by the coronavirus pandemic. “It’s just what we love and so we keep working hard on that. Even if [a] competition doesn’t happen, we just transfer this training into the next one.”
The Belgian Open competition was held at the Airspace Indoor Skydiving tunnel in Charleroi, just south of Brussels. This is the very same tunnel that will also host the 2022 FAI World Cup (indoor skydiving’s fourth annual World Cup event) in April, along with the 2nd European Indoor Skydiving Championships, which occur at the same time.
Because of this, the Singaporeans used the Belgian Open to prepare specifically for the World Cup because the 14-foot (4.3 m) recirculating Airspace tunnel in Charleroi is considerably smaller than the tunnel they train in at home.
iFLY Singapore, the only tunnel in the country, is one of the world’s largest indoor skydiving facilities, at 16.5 feet (5.03 m) wide and 56.5 feet (17.2 m) tall.
“It is a confidence booster,” said the older Poh of their smashing showing at the comp, “but most importantly it gave us a bit of a warm-up. Competitions have been canceled for a really long time, almost two years, so we wanted to have a smaller-scale competition to go to 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,” she said, “so this competition really helped us get used to the wind so that when we go for the [World Cup] in April, we will be even more prepared.”
“We’ve competed [at Airspace] before,” Minejima Lee added, “but that was three years ago so it’s kind of [about] 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…”
Although Kyra won gold in the 2018 FAI World Cup, for her younger sister Vera and Kai Minejima Lee, the 2022 Cup will be their first World Cup competition (if they qualify).
As a result, proving they could compete against older fliers at the Belgian Open and still come out on top was a major boost for their morale. “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.
The three Singaporeans will compete against over 400 skydivers from around the world in the April World Cup, including the USA’s first all-female indoor skydiving team to qualify for an international competition, Team Volare.
The competition will consist of three disciplines: Formation Skydiving, Dynamic (Free and Speed), and Freestyle. You can learn more on the FAI World Cup website.
Published: January 10, 2022 | Last Updated: January 28, 2022
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