On a wall in Kyra Poh’s home is a child’s drawing of her flying over a basketball court.
“In Primary 1, they asked us to draw a super power. I drew myself flying,” said Kyra, now 15.
The picture has proved remarkably prescient. These days, she “flies” every day, whirling and somersaulting inside a vertical wind tunnel – all part of a sport known as indoor skydiving.
The School of the Arts student won the freestyle junior title at the biennial FAI World Indoor Skydiving Championship in October, to add to another freestyle junior title she won last year, cementing her reputation as a top young talent in the sport. She also won two gold medals at the Wind Games earlier this year, adding to the four gold medals she won at the Australian Indoor Skydiving Championships in August.
All this began when her mother, who runs an advertising company, was helping indoor skydiving facility iFly with advertisements about seven years ago. iFly needed a child to appear in its advertisements – and Kyra was roped in.
Said Kyra: “I thought it would be all fun and games, playing catching. I would never have thought this was a sport I could have represented my country in.”
In the tunnel, she is exposed to winds as fast as 265kmh. “I take a deep breath, fall into the wind and start flying. You feel very free.”
Kyra’s mother, a former cheerleader, is her daughter’s manager and choreographer. The duo come up with the routines themselves, drawing inspiration from sports such as ice-skating and gymnastics.
Kyra, a former competitive swimmer, is nothing but graceful performing inside the wind tunnel. On land, she is anything but, she says.
She said it has been difficult juggling art and the gruelling indoor skydiving training, adding that she has just lost an academic and art scholarship, but is determined to win it back. Kyra’s goal is to represent Singapore in the Olympics, but she will have to wait for it to be an Olympic sport first, she added.