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Pandemic puts local gymnasts' competitive dreams on ice

'They are all upset but they have the mindset that next year they are going to work harder and come back stronger for next year's championship,' says coach

It was shaping up to be a special season for some talented Orillia gymnasts at Mariposa Gymnastics Club of Orillia (MGC) - until COVID-19 abruptly shut down their facility.  

“We had our final practice just before March break and we kind of had a suspicion then that things weren’t going to fly and the kids were worried,” said the club's Competitive Supervisor, Brittnee Dunn.

The cancelled season is a huge blow for the club's team of eight gymnasts performing at level six and up. They had qualified for the provincial championships. When Gymnastics Ontario made the final decision to cancel the season, the qualified athletes had been just one week away from performing on the provincial stage.

At all the club’s lower levels and age groups, many gymnasts also had a high chance of qualifying for their provincial championship competitions as well.

“We got kids who are moving on from gymnastics or in their first year attempting to go to provincials and they don’t get that chance now,” Dunn said.

To make matters worse, all the returning gymnasts for next season, which typically kicks off in September, will have to go through the three qualifying competitions again to retain their previously earned spots at the provincial championships.

“They are all upset but they have the mindset that next year they are going to work harder and come back stronger for next year's championships,” Dunn said.

MGC is playing the wait-and-see game regarding the possibility of the next season being impcted;  they are waiting to hear from Gymnastics Ontario about the procedures that will be in place when returning to the gym is safe to do so.

But for now, MGC is looking for ways to keep their athletes busy and ready for when gymnastics do resume. 

“With our sport there is so much physical and mental strength that is needed that with our competitive teams we are offering some at-home conditioning programs and we are trying to keep their strength and endurance up,” Dunn explained.

So far, it’s been challenging for MGC to keep in touch with their athletes and provide programs for them to work on at home, but they will continue to work through the kinks until it’s safe to return to the gym.

MGC is the only gymnastics club in Orillia providing athletic recreation and competitive programs to about 600 local children from eight months old to 18 years old. This is the first time in the club's 27-year history that all programs have been suspended. 



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Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
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