Proud to take a dive for NZ
"I can't wait, it's my Christmas just to be over there and in amongst it all."LEIGHTON KEITH
Kieran Baldwin knew he was hooked after his first skydive. Now he's off to take on the world's best.
The 27-year-old New Plymouth man is excited to be taking part in the International Skydiving Championships, in Dubai, at the end of the month.
More than 800 competitors will compete in the event's seven disciplines.
"All the guys that I've watched in the sport and looked up to in the sport, I'm now going to be competing against," he said.
"I can't wait, it's my Christmas just to be over there and in amongst it all."
Baldwin, who first jumped out of a plane eight years ago, is now a senior instructor with skydiving company Ballistic Blondes, which operates out of New Plymouth Airport.
"It was the adrenaline rush at the start but now it's just the desire to always go faster and further," he said.
Baldwin will be competing in the canopy piloting section of the championships which is held over water and involves navigating through an entry gate 1.5 metres above the water, at speeds of up to 150kmh, travelling 70m through a carving lane before reaching an exit gate.
He will be judged on speed, distance and accuracy.
"Basically you're flying a parachute as hard and fast as you can towards the ground."
Baldwin believes he is lucky to be able to combine his passion with his job.
"It doesn't get any better than this, I get to do what I love and meet heaps of new people along the way."
Like most Kiwi boys Baldwin had wanted to be an All Black growing up but was now happy to represent his country in skydiving. "I just found another passion in life. There's nothing better to do than go and represent your country."
After a year of saving and fundraising Baldwin has almost covered the cost of his flights to the event, competition jumps and accommodation but was still looking for extra sponsorship which would allow him to get in some training jumps in Dubai before the event began.
New Zealand Aero Sports has given Baldwin a $4000 parachute to use in the championships.
He felt privileged to be taking part in the event after getting a rude awakening when he was convicted of drunk driving in September.
Baldwin, who has since completed a community work sentence and alcohol and drug counselling, said the conviction had given him the shock he needed to re-focus on his goals.
"I've just been focused on what I needed to do," he said.
The competition runs from November 28 to December 9.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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