Competing against hundreds of more experienced and larger divers, the fourteen year old Poh was able to whirl through the indoor flight wind tunnel and soar towards the gold medal. From outside the tunnel, or inside the comfort of your own home (Over 215 million people viewed streams of the Wind Games 2016) you would never be able to tell that Kyra was riding winds that were as fast as 143 miles per hour. The teen was able to duck and weave in the stream and soar towards being dubbed “world’s fastest flyer”, taking home the gold medal in both solo speed and solo freestyle.
The solo freestyle section forces competitors to perform two compulsory and one free routine. The scores are handed down by a panel of judges, similar to a gymnastics or figure skating event in the Olympics. Competitors are judged on a set of criteria including degree of difficulty of the moves, rhythm, expression, variety of the moves and skills, as well as balance in the sky. Based on these categories, Kyra scored 361.217 points which marked her far ahead of Jakub Harrer of the Czech Republic who came in second place with 349.033 points, as well as Maja Kuczyneska of Poland who amassed 340.751 points.
The solo speed competition, where Kyra was able to grab her second gold medal, is a totally different beast that the freestyle. It goes much as the name implies as competitors are provided sequences and asked to fly through the course as quickly as possible. Through a total of eight rounds, Kyra Poh was able to amass a total time of 237.420 seconds, blowing out the competition.
2017 marked the fourth time that the Wind Games have been held in Catalonia, Spain. The annual event has grown in popularity each and every year, with videos from last year’s event going viral. The solo speed competition that Kyra was able to dominate is just one event that is held at the Wind Games. There are also freestyle events, which can be described as part gymnastics and part modern dance. Dynamic events are also held in which flyers are judged in a way that is similar to traditional gymnastic events that we are all familiar with.
The teenager from Singapore has never before competed in an international event as large as the Wind Games. In fact, this marked the first time that she has ever competed against adults in a large scale wind tunnel competition. Many question whether Kyra’s light frame give her an advantage among the generally older competitors, but she does not agree with that sentiment in the slightest. When asked about it the teen stated, “A lot of people think that if you’re lighter, you’re faster. I don’t think so. Because when you’re small, you have less body surface area, so you can push off less wind. If you’re taller, you can push off more and have more force.”
The way in which a teenager from Singapore came to be in the male dominated and relatively new sport of indoor skydiving is a rather interesting tale. When Kyra was nine years old her mother, who works in the advertising industry, was producing a commercial for an indoor skydiving facility in Singapore. When they needed a child to appear in an advertisement, Kyra’s mother asked her if she was interested. The nine year old jumped at the chance to fly and soon fell in love with indoor skydiving.
Five years later and Kyra is practicing year round in order to break through. The sessions last hours and can prove to be incredibly grueling for even the fittest of athletes. Though Kyra has no background in gymnastics or dance, she has an incredibly natural flying style that can really only be attributed to her getting into the sport at such a young age. Kyra is a natural flyer and she is able to incorporate both grace and aggressiveness into her routine.
The practice pays off as Kyra will take home over $1,500 dollars in prize money from each of her gold medals. Perhaps more importantly this teen sees flying as a lifelong passion that she will look to weave into whatever her future holds. With the amount of dedication she has shown in the wind tunnel, it will be exciting to see what other barriers young Kyra will be able to break through in the future.