Ottawa gymnasts bloom at Tulip Classic

Zhang Ruoping (left) & Suzana Diaconescu. (Photo provided)

By Chad Ouellette

Suzana Diaconescu was the top local finisher in the highest category at the Mar. 1-3 Tulip Classic – a performance the Rideau Gymnastics athlete hopes will boost her towards a berth for May’s Canadian Championships at Carleton University.

Hundreds of local gymnasts were in action for the annual Tulip meet at Ottawa Gymnastics Centre, which brought together athletes from across the province in one of the final qualifying competitions before the Ontario Championships.

The event featured gymnasts from Level 2 through 10. In the top tier (Level 10 national open category), Diaconescu earned a 1st-place finish on the balance beam and 3rd-place all-around.

“I was actually quite happy with my performance,” signals Diaconescu. “You know, as a 17-year-old gymnast, I have a lot of school work, so I don’t get to be in the gym as much as a regular national-level athlete.

“Even with those hours, I was quite happy with my performance. I’ve improved quite a bit and I do attribute that a lot to my coach Ruoping.”

A coach with Singapore’s national team before coming to Canada, Zhang Ruoping joined Rideau Gymnastics roughly 4 months ago, and has been impressed with Diaconescu’s hard work and dedication.

“The competition she did was good,” Ruoping highlights. “But I think in the next competition she will do better.”

Competing side-by-side as the only competitors in the Level 8, Age 16+ divisions, OGC teammates Emma Gray and Grace Gorman traded flip-flopped places on the podium in each of their events.

“We train together and we’re pretty close, so it was nice to have her there,” says Gray, who edged Gorman for the all-around crown.

Gray says that competing in her home gym for the Tulip meet was an amazing experience because of the support the local gymnasts received. Having it at the gym that has given her so much was an added bonus.

“They’re always there to support me and encourage me,” Gray underlines. “They help me do the best. They have nutrition seminars, they make sure I have enough sleep and they have a physiotherapist that comes to the gym to help.”

Gray’s goal is now to follow in her clubmate’s footsteps and clinch a Team Ontario berth for the Eastern Canadian Championships, like Gorman did last year. She’ll take aim at that objective come the Apr. 5-7 Level 7-10 provincials near Windsor.

Other local all-around podium performances from the L7-10 divisions at the Tulip Classic included Ottawa’s Julia Kea (1st, Level 7 – Age 13), Sophie Ludington (1st L7 A14/15), Georgia Ditommaso (1st L9 A12/14), Cleante Theoret (2nd L8 A13) and Alexandra Reddick (3rd L7 A11/12), TRYumph’s Annika Magneron (1st L7 A11/12), Stacy Lelei (2nd L7 A14/15), Michelle-Rose Berube-Conway (3rd L9 A15+) and Adelyn Hiscocks (3rd L7 A9/10), Kanata GymnoSphere’s Emma Ireland (2nd L7 A9/10), Ariane Charron (2nd L7 A13), Monica Borrello (2nd L8 A11/12), Madison Capretta (2nd L9 A15+) and Sandrine Dwivedi (3rd L8 A13), and Corona’s Jane Vo (2nd L7 A11/12).

The Nepean Corona School of Gymnastics also held a provincial qualifier on Feb. 16-17 for Levels 1-8.

Vo, Mia Jamieson and Kiara Campbell swept the L7 A11/12 all-around medals for the host club, as did Ella Martel and Sophia Nizalik in L8 A14+.
Les Sittelles filled the full podium with Janique Boulet, Gabrielle Bonneville and Antonia Del Ciotto in level 7 age 15+, and also had champions in Jasmine McIntyre (level 8 age 12/13) and Maya Tudor, who topped level 7 age 13/14 alongside Kylar Rathwell Olympia Gymnastics (2nd) and Cailee Ariss Corona Competitive (3rd).

Tumblers in training

Piles of budding gymnasts from the host club filled the development ranks of the 2019 Tumblers Classic, as athletes competed in the full spectrum of provincial competition levels at the Feb. 22-24 event in Orleans. Local all-around division winners at the Ontario Gymnastics Championships qualifier who will now compete at the Level 7-10 provincials from Apr. 5-7 in Windsor included Corona’s Sophia Nizalik (L8, Age 14+), Ottawa’s Alexandra Reddick (L7, A11-12) and Les Sittelles’ Janique Boulet (L7, A15+).

See more photos from the 2019 Tumblers Classic on our Facebook page.

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