By Dan Plouffe
Kanata GymnoSphere teammates Grace Kelly and Madison Capretta were part of a dominant showing for Team Ontario’s women at the Eastern Canadian Gymnastics Championships, held May 11-13 in Oshawa.
Ontario swept all age categories of the women’s Level 8 competition. With an uneven bars gold medal and floor silver, Kelly was 3rd all-around in the Novice division, while Capretta was 2nd in Open, also winning bars.
“I was really happy competing as a team, for Ontario,” underlines 15-year-old Capretta, who followed in her sister’s footsteps as Eastern Canadian champ, Mackenzie Capretta having won a pair of medals and a team title for Ontario last year.
“(Mackenzie) was kind of mad because she wanted to go there,” notes Capretta, whose sister was sidelined this season with a back injury. “But she is still happy for me.”
Kelly’s end-of-season success came after plenty of early struggles. The 14-year-old jumped up 2 levels from last year when she was a provincial medallist in L6.
“It was hard to have those consistent routines because the skills were much harder,” Kelly indicates. “Before, I was really nervous, but come the championships, I had the confidence knowing I could do my skills. I was like, ‘Alright, I made it here, and I know I can do this.’”
Kelly and Capretta were the top-level local women to compete at Easterns, while Christopher Farley was the highest-level male. Along with pommel horse bronze, the Tumblers Gymnastics Centre Level 5 athlete was a team champion as well.
Farley acts as an inspirational elder for a budding Tumblers boys’ team that won 24 provincial medals this season – mostly in the beginner levels, including 8-year-old L1 champion Samuel Cain, who scored a perfect 10 on parallel bars.
“Chris shows them what they can do, and he really wants to get better,” highlights Josh Loucks, the Tumblers men’s program manager of 2 years. “We’ve got a nice pool of young athletes coming up. I’d like them to surpass what Chris is doing now when they get to his age.”
Grace Gorman of the Ottawa Gymnastics Centre completed Ontario’s 1st through 4th place sweep of the women’s Level 7 Open individual standings, while OGC men also collected a pile of prizes themselves at Easterns.
James Doucette won a medal of each colour for pommel horse (gold), floor (silver) and high bar (bronze) en route to the Level 4 Age 13+ all-around crown, while OGC teammate
Max Parker won rings gold and vault bronze to lift Team Ontario to L4 victory.
All-around bronze medallist Riley Gonzalez and William Khawam helped Ontario to L3 Under-13 bronze, while Carter McNamee was 2nd with the Ontario L3 Age 13+ crew.
Another three OGC men are in their final preparations for the May 22-27 Canadian Championships in Waterloo. Sam Zakutney, an NCAA parallel bars medallist and All-American at Penn State, will compete in the senior high-performance division, while Ontario champion and runner-up Eric Gauthier and Ben Astorga are entered in the National Open class.
Nationals will be the last competition of Astorga’s career. The high school senior plans to move to Montreal and pursue theatre in university after this season.
Astorga was running on fumes and muscle-memory when he flew into Windsor for the provincials, having just completed his run as male lead in Glebe Collegiate Institute’s production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle the previous night.
“I had school, and then I had to train and rehearse for the play every single night. It took a lot of energy,” recounts Astorga, who returned “100% of my effort” to gymnastics in the lead-up to nationals. “I want to make sure I go out with a bang.”
Overseas, OGC athlete Meaghan Smith repeated as Irish senior national champion in May. Smith’s grandfather was born in Ireland and she became Irish citizen 2 years ago.
—with files from Charlie Pinkerton