Whitehorse gymnast vaults to gold at B.C. championships

Due to an abdominal injury, Whitehorse's Fayne O'Donovan was only able to compete in one event at the B.C. Artistic Gymnastics Championships in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday.

NORTH VANCOUVER

Due to an abdominal injury, Whitehorse’s Fayne O’Donovan was only able to compete in one event at the B.C. Artistic Gymnastics Championships in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday.

But she made it count.

O’Donovan, who was competing along side three other members of the Polarettes Gymnastics Club, won gold in vault at the championships.

“I am a bit disappointed that I didn’t get to compete in the other events, but the gold makes me feel much happier now,” said the 12-year-old.

“I was pretty surprised because I only got one practice in before the competition. It does hurt when I vault but I can push through the pain.”

For the gold, O’Donovan completed a handspring full, scoring a 13.3 and was the only competitor in the Level 3 event to break the 13.0 mark.

It was her first gold medal in three appearances at the championships. She has twice won silver and captured the bronze in the vault last year.

“It’s funny, as her coach, I’d never say vault was her event, it’s just suddenly been emerging as her event,” said Polarettes head coach Cat O’Donovan. “She has a really solid vault at this level – the handspring vault – and it’s the highest value you can do at Level 3.

“It was the only event she could do and it turns out she got gold.”

It was Fayne’s second gold in the vault in as many competitions. Fayne won gold with a handspring full just over a month ago at the Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse.

“I think vault is just a good event for me,” said Fayne. “I have a lot of power and it’s an event I’m just naturally good at. With hard work, I just get it.”

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Polarettes teammate Caitlyn Venasse came within a whisker of medaling. Also competing in the open Level 3 division, Venasse won a fourth-place ribbon on the beam en route to taking eighth all around.

“It’s my favourite event,” said Venasse of the beam. “I’m happy. I think I did well.”

Venasse, who won a silver on the beam last year, also placed 13th on the floor and on the bars, and 21st on the vault on Saturday.

“The beam is her best event and she did really well with it today,” said Cat. “There are 24 (competitors) in her category, so she did really well in it… That was her stand-out event for her today.”

Polarettes gymnasts Reena Coyne and Kendra Peters competed on Friday in the Level 3 tyro divisions.

Coyne, who was in the 2000-year-of-birth tyro division, placed 20th all around, taking 12th on vault and bars, 18th on floor and 21st on beam.

Had she landed her handspring full on the vault, she would have made the podium.

“She just got it a week ago, so she just competed with it for the first time at this meet,” said Cat. “It’s the highest skill you can do at this level.”

“I’m really happy because I did two of my goals – a back layout half on floor and front handspring full on vault,” said Coyne. “(On the vault) if I didn’t fall I would have placed top-three.

“I’m happy that I did that well, but I would have liked to improve my beam.”

Peters, the youngest of the four Yukoners in the 2001-year-of-birth tyro division, took 17th all around. For 17th Peters finished 13th on the vault, 16th on beam and 17th in the bars and floor.

“I feel like I could have done better on the beam and vault. I felt like my floor and bars were really good,” said Peters. “I just got a new skill (on the bars) called the sole circle and it was my first time competing with it and I did really good with that.”

Coyne and Peters were both competing for the first time at the B.C. championships.

“Our goal for today was just to let them experience it, to see what it’s about and prep for next year,” said Cat. “Nerves were a little bit at play this time … But overall they’re happy and they did what they wanted to do.”

The four Whitehorse athletes made up the Yukon’s gymnastics team at the Arctic Winter Games last month.

At the Games, the four won bronze in the team event. In addition to her gold on the vault, Fayne captured silver on the balance beam, bronze on floor and silver for the all-around competition.

“I’d say this is the youngest team I’ve brought here,” said Cat of the B.C. championships. “Normally I have Levels 3, 4 and 5 coming and usually bring about eight athletes. This year I only had Level 3s.

“This is a growth year for us because we lost all our higher level athletes; they all moved on to other things.”

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

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