Fort St. John gymnast tumbles through the trials

Amelia Gauvin has a quiet confidence about her.

As she strode around the Stonebridge Hotel Ballroom, aka the North Peace Gymnastics Club's temporary facility Monday night, she warmed up with a purpose.

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As much a purpose as you can anyway, with a 10 by 30 feet of mat to work with, after the club lost their facility to a fire in July and only recently restarted their competitive gymnastics program last week.

Gauvin, 11, has a right to be confident, as she is set to compete at the BC Winter Games in Penticton at the end of February, after dodging a number of obstacles to get there.

“For this particular experience, normally kids that would qualify to go to BC Winter Games would be level 7s and 8s. Last year she competed at level 6. This year we would have been on par to go level 7,” Gauvin’s coach from Fort St. John Leanne Couch said.

But, the young gymnast had no facility to train in to start the year. 

No matter, three times a week since August, Amelia and her mom hit the road to Grande Prairie, camping out, staying at friends’ places or at hotels so she could train.

She also trained with Couch once a week in Fort St. John during that time.

“Without a gym to practice in, it was really hard to know where she was at. Knowing that she was the only one from our club that went to train elsewhere, you are distanced from what they are doing there. Not knowing what skills they are doing, to have that feedback back and forth was hard to know that she’d be prepared for it,“ Couch added about whether she thought Gauvin would qualify for the winter games.

There was also the issue of training in a different province. There were applications for exemptions and emails exchanged with the both the B.C. and Alberta gymnastics associations, before it was decided she would be able to compete at the Northern BC Winter Games Trials in Prince George on Jan. 10 and 11.

“Well, it was a little bit harder because I was just off for two weeks on my trip, but I still did pretty good. It wasn’t my best competition, but usually my first competitions aren’t the best but I still did pretty good,” Gauvin said.

The trip, a family vacation to Jamaica that happened to fall right before the event in Prince George. So, Gauvin returned just in time for the competition, flying into Prince George and proceeded to put together a performance worthy of a spot on the zone 8 team for the BC Winter Games.

“We know we’re missing a few elements in her routine and stuff but she can possibly make that up in execution. If she’s very clean and tight then she can still do well. Now we’re back working with the things she definitely needs to compete and we still have a few weeks to accomplish that,” Couch said.

Cornrows still intact from her trip, a tan and a wide smile, Gauvin said despite the obstacles, she’s ready to prove herself against the best in the province.

“Apparently there are 146 athletes, so it’s quite a few but I feel pretty confident,” she said with a wry smile. “I just want to stay solid, and do everything like I practiced.”

Her coach added that a young athlete showing such a will to compete at the highest level will serve Gauvin well in the future, and also as an example to young athletes in her own club.

“I think her story shows determination— just the fight in her. Just that inner fight to keep going and never give up and to have the support system, a parent that will drive that distance and pay that kind of money to achieve those kinds of goals,” Couch said. 

“I hope she learns a lot just going to this competition, to be really competing against the highest level 7s out there. We’re definitely the underdog. It will definitely be something she can take a lot away from. It shows all her other teammates to never give up on your goals and really push forward.”

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