Women we love

Esquire (Singapore) - - Portfolio | Women We Love -

KYRA POH: It’s like how peo­ple would com­plain that they have ex­ams but we have that and also the com­pe­ti­tions. For our re­cent com­pe­ti­tion in Bahrain, our train­ing oc­curred dur­ing our ex­ams. So, we’d be train­ing, study­ing, train­ing, study­ing. I sleep at 4am.

ESQ: Do you do any­thing else out­side of the in­door sky­div­ing ses­sions? Like core train­ing? CHOO YI XUAN: I don’t think there’ s a need to but we want to keep our­selves fit and im­prove our stamina. KY RAP OH: Her school has all the equip­ment for her to use.

ESQ: Have tried togo to YiXuan’ s sports school and… CHOO YI XU AN :[ laughs] It’s too far for her. KY RAP OH: Yeah. I don’t think I’ll travel that far… CHOO YI XUAN: To goto a gym.

There’s a cruel po­etry to their life­styles. In or­der to fly free, they have to sever the weighted line that pulls them down, fam­ily and friends who weigh them down.

Their av­er­age train­ing day: they wake at the crack of dawn for school; Yi Xuan’s school ends at around two and she would head to iFly Sin­ga­pore to train first. Kyra’s school would end at around five and then she’ll bee­line down to train with Yi Xuan. Later, Yi Xuan will drop out at 8pm to re­turn home and Kyra will con­tinue her own solo train­ing un­til 10pm. Even af­ter their train­ing ends, they still have to con­tend with school­work. Their flight time per day is two-and-a-half hours, with breaks in be­tween ev­ery 30 min­utes be­cause of how drain­ing a ses­sion could get.

But they still keep at it. De­spite the gru­elling sched­ule and tired­ness of it all, they know that re­wards await at the end of the jour­ney.

ESQ: Do you miss out on be­ing teenagers? KY RAP OH: Kinda. We do have to sacri­fice our time with friends, of course. I’ve to call my mom to ask ‘can I please have lunch with my friends?’ and stuff like that, even when we have to train. CHOO YI XUAN: Apart of us misses that.

ESQ: Do emo­tions run high dur­ing the com­pe­ti­tions? CHOO YI XUAN :[ to Kyra] I site very com­pe­ti­tion that you’d break down? KY RAP OH: Yeah.

ESQ: Do you have a good cry? KY RAP OH: More like a bad cry. I think I’m a very emo­tional per­son. I get stressed.

ESQ: What about you, YiXu an? CHOO YI XUAN: I don’t think I cry as much as Kyra. KY RAP OH: Yeah, she’s more of the com­forter, telling me that it’s okay, it’s okay. CHOO YI XUAN: Some­times she gets scolded by Aun­tie Car­olyn or if she stresses her­self out be­fore the com­pe­ti­tion but there’s noth­ing I can do be­cause that’s her right? So, I’m calm­ing her down.

KY RAP OH: My mom doesn’t pres­sure us at all. She push es us to do our best but some­times we reach that tip­ping point but over­all, it’s all worth it. Even when I know I’d cry 10 times, I’d still go through it all.

ESQ: What’s Car­olyn like as a man­ager? CHOO YI XUAN: I think we feel great if we make Aun­tie Car­olyn proud of us. KY RAP OH: When she’s in man­ager mode, she treats us like ath­letes. She treats us as adult ath­letes. She’s hard­core. She’s full-on coach. There’s no pity or any­thing. CHOO YI XUAN: I think Kyra gets it worse be­cause af­ter she’s fin­ished with train­ing, she still has to see her mother at home. So, if it’s a bad train­ing ses­sion, she will get it. She tells us what we need to hear and not what we want to hear. KY RAP OH: She al­ways tells me—which is also dif­fi­cult— dur­ing a com­pe­ti­tion, that she’s no longer my mom, I’m your man­ager. I’m here to tell you what you have to hear. If you’re shit, I’ll tell you that you’re shit. I think this sort of can­dour is good but ob­vi­ously, it’s tough be­cause she may be play­ing the man­ager role but to me, she is still my mom and I’d some­times get emo­tional. She’s our man­ager but she’s also our mom. She’s our ‘mo­mager’.

Car­olyn tells me that as a man­ager, she acts as an ‘hon­est critic’ but this role is only rel­e­gated to their train­ing. “We work hard, yes, but we also play hard af­ter that.” Ini­tially, Car­olyn found it tough to keep her emo­tions sep­a­rated but it got eas­ier to com­part­men­talise. And some­times, the girls’ own na­ture would take over; even when the girls are drained, they would force them­selves to push through the ses­sion.

To date, Team Fire­fly has amassed ac­co­lades and world records, and all be­fore the le­gal drink­ing age of 18. They want to see how far they can take it in in­door sky­div­ing while there’s still time. They are meant for each other. Yi Xuan lacks con­fi­dence so Kyra will psy­che her up; Kyra gets stressed eas­ily so Yi Xuan calms her down. The two will be a con­stant in one an­other’s life, like plan­ets in each other’s or­bit. Kyra says that she wants to go to the same univer­sity as Yi Xuan. I ask what if that doesn’t hap­pen. They look at each other like they had never con­sid­ered this, as though they haven’t thought that far ahead in the fu­ture. And just as you think that re­al­ity’s teeth are about to close in on them, they laugh and their train of thought re­sumes to its nor­mal ser­vice, al­beit on a dif­fer­ent track.

Car­olyn tells me: “Some­times peo­ple for­get that they are just teenagers”.

But in Yi Xuan’s de­fence: “How many teenagers get to train, get the sat­is­fac­tion and win the World Cup?” Is it an im­petu­ous com­ment or a firm-footed mis­sion state­ment?

Their call­ing is the twin pil­lars of youth and beauty— their bloom af­fords them the op­por­tu­nity of pur­suit and the sheer al­lure that arises in that chase. They might never at­tain per­fec­tion but there’s some­thing en­vi­able in their act of try­ing.

As we watch them in that grandeur of weight­less­ness, un­fet­tered by the wor­ries of the world, we’re re­minded that they are ado­les­cents, and were once chil­dren, and we hope that they re­main in that joy-like state for a lit­tle while longer.

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