GymnoSphere gymnasts grow in size and rise on to higher levels

–By Ottawa Sportspage, For Kanata GymnoSphere

A giant team of 18 women’s artistic gymnasts competed for Kanata GymnoSphere during April’s Ontario Championships. Lauren Mooney and Fiodor Martea, the leaders of Kanata’s competitive program, were pleased to see every GymnoSphere athlete from Level 6-10 qualify for the provincials.

“There’s a lot of background work that goes into everything,” notes Mooney, highlighting the efforts of athletes, coaches, staff, parents and all supporters. “Overall, I’m extremely happy with the progress. We’re a very structured and well-rounded program.”

The GymnoSphere group included a 3-time provincial all-around champion and Eastern Canadian team champ, and a pair of athletes in the Level 10 national open group. The club has athletes primed to take the next step into high-performance streams, but hasn’t yet found enough support within local school systems to enable the consistent afternoon training required to excel.

“Here we are ready to go to have better quality gymnastics and progress our kids to a higher level, but without this support, we’re sort of stuck in the middle,” Mooney highlights. “Until we get that, it’s going to slow the progress a little bit, I’ll be honest.”

Meet the team of athletes shooting for the top:

Leah Floysvik loves the hard work that goes into gymnastics. The Level 6, Age 10 competitor was most proud of herself for making it to provincials after missing one qualifying meet due to injury. “I’m so happy that I made it,” she says.

Mila Dwivedi (L6, A11) was a provincial champion on floor. “I was really surprised,” she recalls. “I really didn’t expect to win. My parents always support me, and encourage me and try to help me, but when I I looked over at them, they were laughing at me, because I had such a surprised face.”

Tehya Hopkins (L6, A12) appreciates having numerous teammates of similar abilities. “If one person gets a skill, it inspires you to get it,” she explains. “I have a really good bond with them. It’s been a few years that we’ve been training together and I really like all of them.”

Hailey Malloch (L6, A14) entered competitive gymnastics 2 years ago. “I started a lot later than most kids do,” she notes. “I really enjoy it. I love the feeling of getting a new skill, and competing and doing well. I always feel proud when I place well or just get good scores.”

Emma Ireland (L7, A10-) was proud to win the first provincial medal of her career, a gold on bars. “In the other competitions, it was not my strongest event, but I’d been working really hard on bars and I wanted to do well. I didn’t expect (to win). I was like, ‘Are you sure that’s my score?’”

Julia Read (L7, A10-) is an 8-year-old who “loved the experience” of competing for the first time this season. “I love learning new skills,” adds the athlete who trains 25 hours per week. “When I do it, it makes me happy. I love making new friends here and I like the gym.”

Jordana Brunetti (L7, A10-) is another 8-year-old who competed against older athletes this season. She says taking part in the events is what she enjoys most about gymnastics, particularly provincials. “It was pretty awesome,” indicates the 4th-place finisher on vault.

Victoria Beaudin (L7, A12) savours the process of acquiring and perfecting new skills. “I enjoy coming to the gym every day,” says the athlete who trains 20 hours per week. “I get to learn new skills, and I have really good friends and good coaches here.”

Ariane Charron (L7, A13) met her main goal this season, which was simply to get physically stronger. “My coaches definitely helped me a lot to build my strength, and my teammates supported me through the whole process,” she highlights. “I’m just happy with how I pulled through.”

Samantha Stafford (L8, A11-12) moved up 2 levels from last year, but won her 3rd consecutive all-around provincial title nonetheless. “Lauren and Fiodor were really good at helping me get the skills I needed,” Samantha reflects. “We did a lot of progression, and they were patient.”

Monica Borrello (L8, A11-12) was very pleased to earn a special award for beam artistry after working hard on her grace and fluidity. She also repeated as a provincial medallist, winning vault silver. “I’m happy about it, I am. But next year, I want to get another medal and go on a streak.”

Angelina Polegato (L8, A11-12) travels over an hour each way from the Morrisburg area to train at Kanata Gymnosphere. “Everyone is super nice here,” signals the 5th-place finisher on balance beam. “Near provincials, everyone gets really competitive.”

Mikaela Booth (L8, A13) placed 4th on vault but initially didn’t believe she’d make it to provincials. “At my old gym last year, they didn’t push me as much, but here, they gave me the confidence I needed. I didn’t know everyone at first, but it was like we were always friends.”

Sandrine Dwivedi (L8, A13) says it wasn’t her best season, but was still proud to make provincials and successfully move up 2 levels from the year before. “I worked really hard during the summer. That’s very important because that’s when you have to get all those skills.”

Freya Cope (L9, A11-13) moved up 2 levels over last year, which she found quite challenging, particularly learning more difficult skills on uneven bars. “But once you nail it, it feels really good,” underlines the special award winner for bars dismount and provincial silver medallist on vault.

Madison Capretta (L9, A16+) earned a pair of top-8 provincial finishes, but was most proud of simply “being more confident in myself in each event and pushing myself to achieve my goals,” she indicates. “I felt nervous at first, but once I started competing at provincials, I was just excited.”

Grace Kelly (L10, A12-15) moved up 2 levels in back-to-back years. She fractured her foot in October, but returned to compete in February. “Putting routines together was a bit of a struggle, but I managed to do OK,” she says. “Now I just want to keep getting better and do as well as I can next season.”

Mackenzie Capretta (L10, A16+) missed last season with a back injury. “It was tough,” she recounts. “I just wanted to get back in as soon as I could, but my coaches would say, ‘No, you have to wait until you’re fully healed.’ It was a big comeback. I’m glad I got all my skills back and learned a lot of new ones.”

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