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A second Age Group World Championship run for Sudbury tumbler

The nature of the competition might be the same but so much else has changed as Hector Loiselle left this week to attend the World Age Group (Gymnastics) Championships for the second consecutive year, this time in Birmingham, England.

With the experience of his 2022 excursion to Sofia (Bulgaria) tucked away in his back pocket, the 15 year-old tumbler with the Sudbury Laurels will make his return showcasing a different look on the runway - as well as with the mindset he is carrying into his second international competition.

"I took some time after nationals to kind of clean up my tumbling so that I can score higher on the execution side of things," said the grade 10 student at Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School, training under the watchful eye of new T & T coach Brent Farnsworth this winter.

"Before, I wouldn't always focus on pointing my toes, not bending my knees, keeping my legs together because I was more worried about just doing the skill. Now that I am more comfortable with the skills, I have been able to think about the details in the middle of my run."

"The skills have become so engrained in muscle memory that I am able to think about the small things, which is nice."

That said, Loiselle will unveil at least a couple of new twists as he builds upon a summer in which he claimed gold at nationals in Edmonton in July.

"I am now doing a barani and a double back in connection in the same pass," Loiselle noted excitedly. "It's been fun learning that one. I have gotten pretty good at the double into a connection over time, and I've always found baranis to be fun, so I thought why not try them together."

In fact, fun has been kind of central to the intent that the former competitive speed skater and high-school champion in the hurdles wants to unveil even as he looks to maximize his performance overseas.

"This year, I am trying to be a little less stressed going into it, to make sure I try and have fun," said Loiselle. "Usually when I think like that, when I don't worry about the results and stuff, I have a better competition."

If the world stage was a new one for the local teen one year ago, the truth is that his qualifying for a second year in a row does impact, to some extent, the way in which his competitive calendar is structured for the 2023-2024 season.

"Before, my season would start in September and end after nationals (in the summer)," stated Loiselle. "Now, it's kind of shifted. This is kind of like my end of season thing."

"I have less time after nationals to gain new skills and start competing again. I am spending more time getting ready for competitions, less time developing new skills, so I really have to take advantage of those two months to be brave and try new stuff."

"I'm getting used to this new training cycle."

And he is doing so while trying to maintain an appreciation for all that has come his way.

"I think it's all pretty cool," said Loiselle. "Without gymnastics, I would have never been able to go to Europe."

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