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Veterans and newcomers shine at first qualifier

From three year veterans of the scene, to those participating in provincial level gymnastics for the very first time, each and every qualifying event poses its share of challenges.

The first meet of the year earlier this fall in Orangeville was no different for a pair of GymZone - Sudbury Laurels' representatives.

"There's a lot more people that are there competing, and it's harder," noted nine year old Avery Roy, promoted from the interclub squad to the WAG (women's artistic gymnastics) Level 6 crew this year. "But it's not bad, once you get a chance to see their routines and see what you have to compete against."

From the comfort of her beam routine - "I don't have that many tough skills on there, the only really tough skill is my dismount, and I don't really find it that tough" - to the crowd-pleasing display that she presents on the floor, Roy is a charismatic jolt of energy, which also shines through as she discusses the fit of a floor session set to the music of the Minions.

"My floor routine is fun and it suits me, because I am small like a minion," suggested Roy. "It's fun to listen to the music, you get the feeling of the music. At the end, when I do my last tumble, it's the same line, repeating over and over. It's a certain beat, and then it ends, and then it repeats that six times."

While selecting the perfect musical accompaniment can present a time-consuming task for some, this grade four student at Valley View Public School had no doubt that this was the music for her. "There was a girl who sended the music to Julie (McEwen - her coach), and then she sended it to me, well, they let me listen to it," explained Roy.

"Then you decide if you like it or not. If you don't, then she sends you different music and you get to listen to that one. And if you don't like that one, you get more to choose from. You decide which one you like the best to choose."

Apparently, Roy chose wisely, leaving her first ever provincial event with a fourth place ribbon on the beam, fifth on the floor, and seventh in all-around aggregate.

Understandably, the hurdles facing 13 year old Level 7 competitor Abby Managhan are different. Not only is the three-year provincial athlete one rung further up the ladder from her Level 6 experience of one year ago, but she's also been dealing with a bit of a troublesome back injury, which limited her training time just prior to the Orangeville event.

"I was a little bit nervous," acknowledged Managhan, who took home bronze medals on both the bars and the floor. "I only started doing my routines again the week before the qualifier, so I didn't have much time to get prepared. But after the competition, I felt pretty good."

"I was most surprised with the bars, it's never really been my best event," continued the grade eight student at MacLeod Public School. "I've gotten a lot better at bars. I think I was most happy to be able to get completely through my routine, because I hadn't done many numbers before. I had only done maybe ten routines in total before the event."

With the next two qualifiers set for the new year, Managhan is both excited and anxious to take her shot at making a return trip to provincials, even in her first year of Level 7 competition. "I think it's realistic," she said. "Even with my injury and having done only a few routines, I still didn't do too bad."

"With a lot more practice, I know I can do better at the next one."

The next qualifier for the WAG Laurels will come on the weekend of January 30th to February 2nd (2020), at the Country Hoedown Qualifier in Alliston.

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