Medals send gymnast for a loop

10-year-old Oak Bay gymnast earns a spot at provincial championships

Getting air on the backyard trampoline is a favoured pastime for Oak Bay youth Ava Stewart. She recently earned a spot at provincials for her passion and hard work in gymnastics.

Getting air on the backyard trampoline is a favoured pastime for Oak Bay youth Ava Stewart. She recently earned a spot at provincials for her passion and hard work in gymnastics.

An astute observation on Ava Stewart’s parents’ part uncovered what turns out to be a passion for the Oak Bay 10-year-old.

More than two years ago, during her brief tenure as a soccer player, the Willows elementary student spent as much time flipping cartwheels on the sidelines as dribbling the ball on the field. Her parents pulled her from soccer and enrolled her in gymnastics, said mom Petra Eggert. It wasn’t long before she caught the eye of a competitive coach and leaped from recreational to the competitive stream.

Now competing with Falcon Gymnastics, Stewart scored silver in all-around during recent competition in Port Alberni, qualifying for provincials next month. She earned silver on bars and bronze on floor, rounding out her competition with routines on the beam and vault.

They marked her first medals.

“She said her face hurt at the end of the day from smiling so much,” said Eggert.

A total of 13 Falcon athletes ranging from Junior Olympic levels 3 to 6, Stewart’s a level 6, competed in the Mt. Arrowsmith Invitational Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Competition. All six Junior Olympic Level 6 athletes qualified for the B.C. championships April 10 to 12 at Capilano University.

Stewart competed at provincials last year in Kamloops and while it was fun and exciting, she didn’t feel as prepared as this year. Plus she was sick.

“I’m still nervous, because people from all over the province are coming,” she said.

Straight off the Port Alberni competition the youth is back into the weekly training regimen of 12 hours at the gym and two in ballet.

“We do a lot of conditioning to build up our muscles and then three weeks away (from competition) we start doing our routines again,” Stewart said.  “I like doing all that work to go to competitions. I really like competing. It’s just really fun. … I don’t care if I don’t place.”

Then she seemed to remember that recent feeling.

“Those were my first medals,” she said with a grin.

She hopes to earn more at her next three competitions of the year. After provincials, Falcon Gymnastics hosts the annual Garden City Invitational held May 15 to 17 at Panorama Recreation in North Saanich and then they head to the Ogopogo Invitational June 5 to 7 in West Kelowna. The athletes will then wind down for a couple months of light training and conditioning.

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com