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Naila Novaranti and Aries Susanti Rahayu breaking gender stereotype and empowering female to participate in male-dominated sports.

Photography: Gugun A. Suminarto; Shot on Location; Beritasatu Plaza


Naila Novaranti

Changing the perspective of skydiving.

Text: Tara Marchelin; Additional Photos Provided by Naila Novaranti

Over centuries, skydiving has been much developed by one inventor to another. It was firstly discovered in one of Leonardo da Vinci's books, in 1495, which contained a sketch of a triangle parachute. The concept of the parachute, afterward, was adopted by a Croatian bishop, Fausto Veranzio Homo Volans. Fausto published some sketches of a man dives with a rectangular parachute in a book titled “Machine Novae” in 1959. He got a chance to embody the parachute and tested it in 1617. From then on, skydiving has been growing and, today, it becomes one of the most challenging sports in the world.

It's certain that it takes a lot of nerves to skydive. For some people, jump out of a plane and fly from the altitude might be scary, but for Naila Novaranti, an Indonesian skydiver who also an international skydiving instructor, it's freedom. “I feel free when I'm up there. I can see everything from above, even all the fishes in the sea if the water is clear enough. I can fly with various styles, like with my head down, with a hula hoop, or with a big rubber duck,” she explains.

Naila's debut on skydiving began in 2010. She learned how to skydive when she started to work at a parachute company in Florida, United States, as a marketing manager. At first, Naila was just curious because all of her co-workers went skydiving, later it turned out that she enjoys plenty of it. “My first skydiving was tandem with another skydiver. After that, I wanted to skydive over and over again because I love the challenge,” Naila recalls her first experience.

Her job required her to lecture the clients on how to use the parachute, thus she became an international skydiver instructor, both for army and civilian. For Naila, the most challenging part of being a skydiving instructor is maintaining the chemistry with the skydiver. “We need to have chemistry with our students, especially in the competition. It only takes 30 to 35 second before we land to the ground, meanwhile, we have to do some formations. If we don't have chemistry, we could be separated. So, we need to stay focused,” she explains.

Skydiving not only gives Naila a lot of excitements and fun but also brings her to a number of achievements. In 2017, Naila and her Simba team, which contains of three skydivers, won three gold medals of 4-Way Competition AA at National Skydiving League in Florida, United States. Those medals came from three different classes which are indoor, outdoor, and mix. In 2018, Naila also got an Honor Brevet from Korps Pasukan Khas (Kopaskhas) of Indonesian Air Force because of her service as Paskhas' free fall instructor.



As a skydiver with more than 10.000 jump records, Naila has been dealing with a lot of injuries, such as broken back, muscle tone, and dislocated joint, yet she recovered really fast and she has never thought to give up. “When I had the broken back, the recovery was only 3 months then I was back to jumping. I didn't know why and the doctor also wondered. I think I'm very lucky or maybe I just don't have much brain so I don't feel much afraid,” says Naila with a laugh.

However, according to Naila, skydiving can't be considered as a high-risk sport because the safety depends on the skydivers themselves. “Skydiving would be high-risk if we don't follow the procedure. As long as we do it based on the procedure, it's a safe sport. It's even safer than riding a motorcycle in Jakarta,” Naila adds.

Before skydive, Naila always checks on her parachute’s pin, ensures the automatics is on and has a full battery, and make sure that the parachute isn’t torn. According to Naila, a parachute should be opened and folded every six months, so it wouldn’t be sticky due to the changing weather. Last but not least, Naila makes sure that she is in a good condition.



In Indonesia, skydiving is more than just an extreme sport. It is potential to contribute significant impact to Indonesia's tourism. With a lot of beautiful islands, Indonesia is a magnetic destination for skydivers from all over the world. Naila recognises that it could be a chance to escalate the tourism.

“Actually, Indonesia has been approached by American skydivers to be a place for a freestyle skydiving competition because they want a new place, a new challenge and I think it could give a lot of impacts for us. Our local skydivers could get more knowledge. The locals also could get more revenue because the skydivers and their family usually go shopping and visit some tourist attraction too,” Naila says.

As an Aero Tourism Ambassador that appointed by World Tourism Park (WTP) Forum, Naila wants to promote Indonesia through the aero sport, especially skydiving. “We try to find investors and gain tourists. We want to convince that Indonesia can be a destination for skydiving as well, besides Dubai and Thailand,” she adds. Moreover, according to Naila, skydiving becomes a lifestyle in Indonesia as people start to show interest in the sport, even some television commercials already used a skydiving scene. “There's a pride in people who have done skydiving,” says Naila.


Aries Susanti Rahayu

Climbing to the top and reaching the peak of her success.

Text: Iwan Martinus Putuhena; Additional Photos Provided by Federasi Panjat Tebing Indonesia

Some people are driven to achieve a professional career in sports for many reasons. The sport may runs in the family for generations, or an athlete raised in an area where a particular sport is most popular. Nevertheless, the main reason that an athlete choose the sport where they commit their time and energy is because of the initial feeling they got when they first played that sport.

An athlete who competes at any level, from professional to amateur, can most likely remember the time or even exact moment when they decided it's the sport that they will pursue. For professional female wall climber, Aries Susanti Rahayu, that moment came when she was in Junior high school. Her athletic coach recognised the potential in Aries, so he introduced her to wall climbing.

“At first I only climbed a short wall, around 4 metres. but I was fast. I always want to be fast.” says the 24-year-old with a smile. “In sport climbing there are three categories, namely speed, lead and boulder. So I chose speed,” Aries explains.

Wall climbing is a form of sports climbing that takes place on artificial structures rather than natural rock surfaces. Schurman Rock in Seattle, WA is believed to be the first artificial climbing structure in the United States, constructed in 1939, while the modern artificial climbing wall began in the UK, created in 1964 by Don Robinson, a lecturer in Physical Education at the University of Leeds.

Considered as a new sport, wall climbing has only become popular over the last 20 years. Sport climbing made its debut at the 2018 Asian Games Jakarta – Palembang and will be an official Summer Olympic sport in Tokyo 2020.

The origin of Indonesian Spider-woman

Born and raised in Grobogan Regency, Central Java, Aries Susanti Rahayu is a sport climbing athlete who won a gold medal in the 2018 Asian Games event with a record time of 7.61 seconds.

Since she was young Aries already has a hobby of climbing trees. Fast forward to the present day, this unusual hobby paved the way for the young Indonesian Athlete to conquered various championships and named as Indonesian Spider-women.

“People can call me whatever they like, I don't mind. But I'm not the only Spider-woman in Indonesia, there are a lot of female out there that are just as good and can beat male at any time,” says Aries.

Aries' commitment and perseverance bear the trust of her coach to join a national level championship in 2008. At that time Aries managed to climb to the podium by winning a silver medal. The speed, ability, and technique that Aries demonstrated in climbing were considered quite good, so the Indonesian Rock Climbing Federation (FPTI) recognised the potential and brought Aries to the national training camp in Yogyakarta.

Training and practice continue for Aries while completing her formal education. Her first debut at the international level was in September 2017 at the Asian Continental Championship in Tehran, Iran where she achieved a bronze medal. As a debutant, the result was considered sufficient. For this reason, she is trusted to participate in the next championships, IFSC Climbing World Cup 2017 in Wujian and in Xiamen, China. Aries managed to improve her performance and position by reaching the fourth rank in Wujian and bringing home a silver medal in Xiamen.

“Before competition, I pray and talk to myself that I can do it because I already completed the routines and trained all the skills for years,” Aries explains. “It comes down to that moment. I decide whether I win or lose, and I don’t want to miss that opportunity. So I remained focus and imagining the process that went through to reach to this point,” she adds.

The following year, Aries started to gain recognition when she earned her first gold medal at IFSC World Cup 2018 di Chongqing, Cina when she managed to defeat Russian sport climber Elena Timofeeva with a time of 7.51 seconds.

“My motivation to win is to prove to myself that I can do it and able to make myself, my parents and the nation proud. It's my persistence of not to lose,” Aries reveals.

Her biggest achievement to date was winning at 2018 Asian Games, where she contributed two gold medals for Indonesia in women speed and speed relay. Aries stated that winning the 2018 Asian Games gold medal at home was a special moment that is more prestigious than any other title that she achieved because she succeeded to make the nation proud.

“The valuable experience that I gained while competing in Asian Games was not only winning gold medals but making a new family and new role models that I considered as sisters and brothers,” Aries explains.

Road to 2020

Aries noted that winning in a way changed her to be more confident. Reaching the peak point and cooling off, made her to be more relaxed and positive for the next competition. “The feeling inside, that I did it once, so in the future I should be able to do it better,” Aries says.

The next target for Aries and the National Team is preparing for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic, and Pre-Olympic this year for the qualifying round. “I try my best to control myself, that way I can focus and automatically I can achieve the target. Control myself, know my limits to achieve the goals,” Aries concludes.

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