Kanata Rhythmic sends club-record 8 athletes to Elite Canada meet


Selena Pang. Photo: Dan Plouffe.

By Rémi Klander

Selena Pang and Cynthia Zhang earned the right to compete at May’s Canadian Gymnastics Championships in Gatineau and their Kanata Rhythmic Gymnastics Club sent its biggest contingent yet to Elite Canada, a national competition held Feb. 12-16 in Burnaby, B.C.

“All of our national level gymnasts had a great weekend,” reports Kanata Rhythmic national program coach Yuliana Korolyova, who brought a club-record 8 qualifiers to the event for novice, junior and senior athletes.

“They went into the championship with high expectations for themselves and they accomplished what they were aiming for. Of course 1st is always the goal, but they trained hard and performed very well so we’ll take that.”

Elite Canada was a breakthrough competition for Pang, who finished 6th all-around in the final out of 45 juniors in total.

“It was fun – a little bit of nerves, but fun,” recounts Pang, who placed 4th in the ball final and had the best rope score in the qualifying round. “Of course 1st (overall) would be nice, but in my head I was aiming for top-5 and I wasn’t far off with two good results.

“I’m always trying to push myself to be better and beat my previous scores to be better than the person ahead of me. My motivation is myself, I want to be better than me.”

Cynthia Zhang, a national team representative alongside Kanata clubmate Haley Miller (who’s currently injured), finished just behind Pang in 8th spot. Kanata’s Leann Situ placed 7th in the novice event, while Alanna Lu (23rd senior), Keira Agnew (23rd junior), Maria Sokolova (29th junior), Serena Nie (41st junior) also competed in Burnaby, as did Viky Lin (8th novice), Stella Li (9th novice) and Raya Boicey (40th junior) from the Ottawa Rhythmic Gymnastics Club.

“It’s a great event for the girls. It allows them to showcase their skills in front of judges and then learn from their mistakes – unless they do a perfect routine, which we’re still waiting for,” laughs Korolyova, who joined the club 4 years ago to kickstart its national program.

The Kanata gymnasts train 6 days a week for a total of 24 hours in the national program, aiming to perfect their skills and routines.

“I think our sport is beautiful because it’s art,” signals Pang, who will soon be traveling to Greece and Spain with Zhang for rhythmic gymnastics opportunities. “All the little details we work on allows us to make something beautiful.”

Farewell to local legend


On the Saturday night before Christmas, the parking lot at Bridlewood Community Elementary School overflowed with visitors who’d been impacted by Kanata Rhythmic Gymnastics Club founder Dasa Lelli. The mother of rhythmic gymnastics in Ottawa recently retired from her coaching role of 45 years, though she is unlikely to stray far from the club that now includes her grandchildren. Photo: Dan Plouffe

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