Nowadays it is very hard to find a person from Osijek that doesn’t know about Pannonian Challenge, and those do know about it, and are its faithful followers, also know about one of the riders from Osijek who has competed in every Pannonian for the last decade. We’ve watched him push the performance limits not only to BMX riders from Osijek, but from the whole of Croatia, and, lately, he has become famous for his backflips over a tram. Of course, we are talking about Igor Vukadinović, also known as Poki.
He was born on the December 30th, 1989, but claims that he feels much younger, besides the fact that only now he feels the consequences of his falls. He has pain in his ankles, knee, fingers, wrists, he smashed his head several times, had a concussion, cracked two ribs, and the scratches on his elbows aren’t even worth mentioning. His back ache for over a decade, and, for now, he ‘s had only knee surgery , and he can still feel the pain. But he says ‘’ice, voltaren pills, and some cream bro… ‘’ and you live through it.
Before he started riding BMX, during elementary school, Poki had played tennis, handball, and football which he, along with basketball, still likes to play and it’s not strange for him to watch football games. When he was a kid, he even wanted to become football player. He went in St. Ana elementary school in class A, after what he went to EMŠC high school.
He spent his childhood and most of his life in the centre of Osijek. He still remembers the time when he, at the age of 14, heard for the first time a crowd cheering, coming from the forest near Kopika and went with his friends to see what’s going on. There he met a BMX rider Benjamin Shanker and said how he got ‘’chills, and couldn’t believe’’ he saw someone doing a backflip for the first time. Soon he got himself a first BMX Rog Joma for his birthday, but, since it was winter at that time, he had to wait until spring to finally try it out in a skate park, without wearing a protection.
The BMX had metal toothed pedals that are meant to provide a better grip, but those same pedals were the ones that hit his shin, and marked the beginning of getting injuries.
Back then he was rode with Jurica Barać, and they rode every day, encouraging each other to do better tricks, until one day Poki did his first backflip. It was raining on that day, and the park was crowded with people cheering for a new trick. When he finally did it, he was so happy and thrilled that he laid down in a puddle. He says that kids nowadays don’t have enough courage to do those tricks without a foampit. For his own bravery, he can thank for Jura’s encouragement and dares to do better tricks. Today he can do much more complex tricks, but he combines them with backflips. He can now successfully do a double-tailwhip backflip, superman backflip, turn down backflip and even a frontflip.
His first appearance on Pannonian was the same year he started riding, in 2004. on Pannonian Challenge V where he even won protection gear, but can’t remember which place he was.
Poki has gone through a financial bike crisis, just like any other highschooler who rides bikes. As a 16 year old kid, without any source of income, but with a BMX that requires a lot of maintenance, he remembers he almost stopped riding, but then a well known bike service Volf from Osijek helped and bought him a brand new BMX. During many years, Volf’s service has helped a lot of young riders from Osijek, and some of them have even become world class riders. Poki also spoke about a BMX star Senad Grošić as someone who had also helped him and invited him to many contests in which he was able to earn money to buy new bike. He states that his current BMX is worth around 1500 €, and was also financed through some of those contests.
Along with other riders from Osijek, they have created a jump in his grandma’s backyard in the countryside. Over there, on a landing spot, they placed old mattresses when they tried t make new tricks, in order to try them as safe as possible. There were a lot of attempts to make improvised jumps and indoor skate parks all over Osijek, in Mobilia, Šibicara and in a old hall of an abandoned high school. Poki regrets that Osijek still doesn’t have a real indoor skate park.
As his riding became more and more advanced and his tricks more spectacular, some sponsors finally started to notice him. Besides Volf, in 2007, Extreme sport shop from Osijek started to sponsor him and even financed his trip to Berlin on a world cup where he won 6th place. There were also sponsors such as Zion Bikes who took him to contests and road trips, Nokia that provided cell phones, ShoeBeDo and Vans that gave shoes, Monster Energy that sent energy drinks, Zigi Papers, Warehouse, Cult, Targetbag and many others.
In 2012 he had a big fall which ended up the already mentioned knee surgery. That was followed by a period of inaction and almost half a year of waiting to return to BMX. After those 6 month and 10 kilos more, it wasn’t easy to start riding again and in the beginning he was confronted with fear and a process of being comfortable on a bicycle. But there was only one way to return the old glory, and it was to start riding.
After highschool Poki had several jobs and even spent some time working in Ireland, but the most significant was his job of a judge on Pannonian Challenge and later the same job for FISE which took him all around the world.
Since the last year Pannonian Challenge was a part of FISE, he did the same job here, again.
Now, with FISE, he is building temporary skate parks around the world and organizing many BMX events.
Good luck, Poki!