Jade Chrobok, Ana Padurariu win gold, silver in junior division.
OSHAWA – Gemini Gymnastics’ athletes were the talk of the gymnastic world after their stellar performance at the Elite Canada competition in Halifax.
Gemini sent four athletes to the prestigious event and all four placed in the top 10, including a gold-silver all around finish by juniors Jade Chrobok, 14, and Ana Padurariu, 13. Seniors Meixi Semple, 15, and Aleeza Yu, 17, captured sixth and seventh place competing against the premier gymnasts in the country.
Elite Canada is a national competition that not only helps identify the country’s high-performance gymnasts, but also ranks athletes for access to funding and assists in ranking them to be selected to the national team for international competitions.
Chrobok, who’s from Toronto, performed one of the most difficult bar release skills in the world today, and finished second on bars to open up the competition. Chrobok’s beam work is well known due to its high level of difficulty, but in an otherwise impressive routine, her nerves got the better of her and she fell on an easier skill, and finished fifth.
Chrobok quickly refocused and proceeded to finish first in both floor and vault to be crowned the 2016 Elite Canada junior all-around champion.
For Padurariu, from Whitby, although this was her first year as a junior, she was invited to compete at a number of international meets last year in the junior division. The valuable experience served her well as the youngster was at ease in her new age division.
Padurariu started with a strong show on vault, placing seventh, and followed with a difficult routine on bars, finishing first. She had hoped the skill, which had never been performed before she premiered it last year in Montreal, would be named after her, but it has since been picked up and performed by others at world championships.
Her next event, beam, also displayed the youngster’s talent by recording one of the highest difficulty levels on the apparatus in both junior and senior levels. Despite a fall, Padurariu still placed first on beam.
“At this time, Ana’s difficulty level on bars and beam would be high enough to qualify her for the Olympics were she eligible,” said her coach Elena Davydova, who will be judging gymnastics at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
A stumble on her floor routine did not prevent Padurariu from placing second on that event and capturing the silver all-around medal in the junior division, behind only Chrobok.
Both juniors qualified to compete during event finals on the second day, Chrobok for all four events, and Padurariu for beam. Padurariu’s coaches decided to scratch the gymnast from the event, however, to rest an ankle she had twisted on floor the day before.
Chrobok absolutely dominated the competition during event finals by posting scores well beyond those of her competitors and winning three gold medals and one silver. Several of her scores would have placed her in contention for a medal in the senior division had she competed in that age category.
Semple, of Whitby, competed for the first time in the senior division. This was an important step as the gymnast was relatively new to the elite competition scene, having only competed as a junior once in 2015 when she captured the bronze medal at nationals.
Semple did not disappoint, placing sixth in the all-around competing against seasoned gymnasts, several of whom are well-known international athletes such as Ellie Black and Isabela Onyshko.
Semple’s strongest event during the all-around was beam.
“Meixi’s beam routine is one of the best in Canada,” said Davydov. “We’re working on increasing the difficulty level of her other events.”
Semple qualified for event finals on beam where she placed fifth.
Aleeza Yu was the comeback story of the meet. The Stouffville native injured her knee over a year ago at world championships and has worked hard to rehabilitate it and acquire the strength and skills she lost.
“The last year and a half have been difficult, but I’m glad of what I’ve accomplished,” she said. “I’m almost fully back to my pre-injury form.”
Her first time back at the elite scene showed the result of her hard work. Although Yu has a large arsenal of skills she has not fully tapped into yet, the gymnast nevertheless finished seventh in the all-around, placing second on floor and fifth on vault.
Yu’s second day of competition also impressed as the athlete won bronze on beam despite her pared-down routine.