We have a medalist in our midst!

I finally got my first medal in gymnastics. And it was gold!

He said

This entire week’s focus was, of course, Emelia’s first gymnastics meet of the season in Chatham. It has actually been the focus of the last month really as they ramped up prep at practices. But this week we moved from the practice-laden schedule and to full-on competition mode. Being that it was first competition at Level 4, and her first year on the Provincial Team for GW Elites, she was definitely feeling some nerves in the weeks leading up but that took place front and centre this week when her sleep got progressively worse and her tummy troubles amplified.

Thursday night I had the chance to go watch a good chunk of her last practice before the competition. It was the first time in a while where I’ve seen so much of all of her Level 4 events—especially the ones that she does early in her practice as we typically catch the end of her four hour practices. I was blown away at both her Uneven Bars as well as her Balance Beam as those are both ones that she’s told us she’s been having trouble with. What I got the chance to see, she really looked ready despite her all of her nerves.

I had an overnight Thursday while we rearranged some tables at the store, so I worked while everyone slept. I came home in time to grab a very short hour and a half nap before heading off to my usual Friday morning hockey skate. By the time I was done hockey, I was beyond ready to get a longer sleep. Thankfully, with it being a PD day for Emelia, Danielle already had something planned for her day to a) help keep her mind off the competition, and b) as it turned out, help keep her occupied so that I could sleep. Friday night we all took it very easy so that Emelia could be ready for the competition first thing.

The only wrinkle in all of our planing was the weather. We got up Saturday morning with more than enough time to get there – in fact we buffered in an extra hour, just in case. There was more snow on the ground when we woke, but there was also an extreme cold warning as well as the warning of potentially snow squalls making the drive tough. We were on the highway with plenty of time to make it, however the driving conditions weren’t ideal to say the least. And getting stuck behind the two-lane snowplow for 30 minutes driving at 45 km/hr did not help with Emelia’s stress of us arriving in time before the check-in ends and you’re scratched if you don’t make it in time.

Obviously, as the title of the blog indicates, we made it in enough time to get her checked in. Emelia the moment she saw how much of our family were there to cheer her on was beside herself and terrified, wanting us to let them know that she was very nervous and wanted to recluse in the gymnast prep area. She did and all that was left was to watch her perform. And boy did she ever! The second we saw the march in, we saw the nervous girl gone and the young lady who was really in her own element come out shining. We saw the bounce to her step and that she was feeling ready to compete as they did their warmups.

Her first event was Vault which is one she has had challenge with historically. Two years ago Vault was her highest score and last year she had a lot more challenge with it. On her first run she balked because she didn’t feel good about the approach. While I wondered/worried how that would get in her head, she proceeded to jet down the tack and pull off what looked to me her best Vault I had seen in some time. On the second attempt, she essentially threw down the mirror image of her first attempt. As Danielle and I waited with baited breath for her first score to show up, and it finally did, we knew we had the potential for a very special competition for her. A 9.325 showed up on the board and we were ecstatic!

As the competition rolled on, it ended up being her best score and she had given herself a full .3 buffer from the next gymnast, easily taking Gold in the Vault. She ended up taking Bronze on the Beam as well! We were blown away that the events she’s lately having the most challenge with turned out to the ones she got her first podium finishes with. We feel that her Floor routine and Uneven Bars scores and finishes (5th) did not necessarily reflect what we saw in her performance but in the landscape of the day, as a first meet at Level 4, we could not be prouder of how she did.

But the moment of the weekend, hands down was seeing Emelia’s reaction when they announced that she finished first in Vault. As someone who got used to finishing fourth last year, there was no greater joy than seeing her finish first overall and to get her very first medal ever. And even better was that wasn’t the only medal of her day. It was so great to see her finally get to the top of the podium and to feel the accomplishment of all the hard work she has done. We made the trek back from Chatham and met up with my parents to celebrate the accomplishments of her first competition.

She said

This past weekend that as been anticipating for 8 months. Back in late June when we received the email from the gym owner that they wanted to make a change and let Emelia try to move to the level 3-4 team with a chance to make the level 4 team this is what she had been working for. Emelia worked her butt off, deciding the second she was originally placed at 3 that she was going to prove everyone wrong, that she was meant to be on 4. She put that drive into her summer training and made the level 4 team. She took that drive and desire to keep her space and pushed herself to train hard to prove that they made the right decision.

The weeks leading into this past weekend have been stressful, we continue to battle the unknown with Emelia’s stomach making training even harder. Add in some training aches and pains and she was pushing herself. We did everything to support her and keep her healthy, it was a nervous week hoping she could be healthy to compete. Add in the nerves that Emelia was dealing with it made for a rollercoaster week. Emelia who said she wasn’t nervous was showing us differently – she was having a real hard time sleeping, her already messed up stomach was a lot worse this week and she was well at times a real ‘peach’ to be around. She was having a hard time for sure.

As the weekend drew closer we realized that there was a PD day the day before the competition and Emelia had been wanting to take the babysitting course it was the perfect distraction to keep her mind off the up coming competition. What made it more perfect was the fact that a number of her friends include her best friends Anna and Grace were also taking the course. It was really the best way to keep her mind off things and also get her ready to learn and eventually take on some babysitting jobs in the near future.

Friday we chose to have a lazy and quiet night at home. We went out got some treats and settled in to watch Emelia’s favourite – Harry Potter. We got her to bed at a decent hour and John and I restlessly fell asleep ourselves to get as much rest as possible.

Saturday morning we woke to an anticipated blanket of snow with more coming. We got up early and got moving. Emelia had of course planned things all out, we had everything organized so we could have as smooth of a morning as possible. We had done a few practice runs through on her hair and settled in with an hour to go to get it all done. It was rocking at first but once done her hair was perfect, well sprayed and gelled to keep her style for the whole day. Once packed for the weather and the competition we were off. We had decided to leave a full 45 minutes earlier than we needed to allow for lots of buffer time because of the weather. Thankfully we did because it was slow going, add in the snowplows that were blocking the 401 making things painfully slow glowing we lost our 45 minute buffer and made it just in time to get her registered in time.

This first competition was in my hometown of Chatham, with John’s family being from near by Chatham and some of my family able to come we had quite a cheering squad for Emelia. At first this made her nervous but once she was in the change room with her teammates she instantly relaxed and was ready and settled in and in the zone.

We adore the team she is on, her teammates are incredible, funny, loving, supportive and all have incredible training ethics. Add in her new coach who has really connected with Emelia has made her unrecognizable as a gymnast. Her growth this last year has really blown us away.

With nerves heightened for John and I we settled in to watch her compete. I can tell you it is so nerve-racking to watch your child out there, knowing how many hard training hours they put in, the dedication, the focus, the drive – all coming down to one routine to show everything you have worked for. In the end it all came together. She started out on vault. Vault at one time was her favourite but this year she has struggled to find her love for the event. I will say I am guessing she has a very different view of it now. She had the highest score in her flight by far and easily took the gold!!! We could not stop smiling once we knew – knowing this is all she wanted, to medal in an event. And man girl you did it!

She then moved to bars – again an event she has really grown strong on but still needs more work. We felt it was a strong performance but the judging (which admittedly I do not always understand, what is a deduction or what is not) did not match. Emelia was very disappointed and confused by her score. I told her to not worry about it, we have video she can review with her coach and they can work on corrections.

Then she moved on to beam, this is by far the one event that stresses me out most watching. All you want more than anything is to have your child stay on! And man did she nail it. She was composed, artistic and strong. Once she dismounted and could finally breath we could not stop smiling. Her performance was strong enough to get the bronze.

Finally was floor, she was the very last athlete to compete for the entire session so she had the floor while everyone else was watching. Personally I would have been nervous and for how shy she can be the second she steps on the floor and the music comes on she zones in and just nails it. Her score wasn’t as far as we thought but again with some small tweaks she will clean up those deductions and be ready for next month. Her performance was so impressive. For all the family who came, all 20 in attendance everyone was blown away by her. We were beyond proud of her!

Moving to medals the viewing area filled up fast so John and I moved to where we could hopefully get a good view. I was in the seats but I think John for sure had the better view of Emelia. He was able to be at the side of the podium and got to see that beautiful moment when Emelia realized she was top score for vault. She told me after she was sure they made a mistake for a moment but then it clicked in that she got the gold. As always Emelia was stoic and reserved with her reaction, she told me she didn’t want to celebrate too much because she didn’t want to have anyone else feel bad. She really does have an empathetic heart! In the end it was an incredible day, This event was the first time this gym had hosted and they really did an incredible job, it was well run, took the needs of the athletes as their first thought and concern. It was fun and the medals were pretty amazing.

So all in all it was an amazing weekend and a perfect way to start the competition season, it has given Emelia a new confidence and focus and she can’t wait to get back to the gym next week and get ready for her next competition in February.

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