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Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018
Kayla Folz competes as a senior at nationals for the first time
by Randy Pascal

Sometime early next week, at the Centre Claude Robillard in Montreal, it will be official – Sudburian Kayla Folz will have made history, becoming the first local gymnast ever to be invited to compete at the Canadian Championships in Men’s and Women’s Artistic Gymnastics.

Battling a recent knee injury, Folz will take part in both the bars and beam events, bypassing the two (vault and floor) in which she is generally recognized as being most competitive. “I have put a lot of work into both bars and beam this year, so now I want to go in and show that I can do just as well in what were previously my “weaker” two events, to show myself as more of an all-around gymnast,” said Folz.

Though she attended nationals last year, competing as a Level 10 gymnast, the 2017 Championships mark the first time that the St Charles College senior will be entered in the “Senior Women’s” classification, taking on the athletes who carry the Canadian colours at the Olympics, and other international events.

“This can be a little more stressful, so I just have to work on keeping my nerves in check and going through all of my mental cues and visualization before-hand,” she said. “If I can do that, I can keep myself calm and go into it just like any other competition.”

The problem, of course, is that this isn’t just ANY other competition. This is where names are made on a national scale, an end goal that Folz fully understands is a work in progress. “Even though I am not as well known right now, I am going to push myself to build up to become one of those names,” she said.

“The most important thing is competing more at the senior level. It gets you known, it gets your name out there, the judges get to see you, and you can build these harder routines and compete with the best of them.”

Just over a year ago, Folz became the first ever Laurels’ gymnast to master the “tkachev”, a very difficult release move on the bars. Now, she remains hopeful that all elements of her bars routine will come together on the biggest stage of all.

“Bars has always been my weakest event,” she acknowledged. “Even just catching up to meet the requirements, at this level, is what I have been really striving to do. I am putting my release move back in for this meet, and hope to have a clean full routine, a shoot hitting a hand-stand shape, and hitting all of the skills where they are tight and clean.” Either way, she has already boldly gone where no Sudbury gymnast has gone before.

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