Yukon gymnast performs through the pain

A year ago the plan was to send five Yukon gymnasts to compete at the Canada Winter Games. A month ago it was down to three. A few days ago it went down to one. Yukon was represented by just one gymnast in Prince George.


A year ago the plan was to send five Yukon gymnasts to compete at the Canada Winter Games.

A month ago it was down to three. A few days ago it went down to one.

Yukon was represented by just one gymnast in Prince George following a slew of injuries – and even she was injured as well.

Yukon’s Reena Coyne competed despite “serious” back spasms this week.

“The competition was fun. I got to compete against many people I aspire to, so that was super cool and I’m going to go home and tell all my friends that,” said Coyne. “The competition was just great.”

At 14 years old, Coyne was up against national-level gymnasts up to five years older. She place 34th out of 36 in artistic gymnastics on Tuesday.

“Reena had some serious back spasms from the day we got here, so it definitely made her beam and her vault very difficult,” said Yukon coach Catherine O’Donovan. “So it wasn’t exactly the meet we were hoping for, but I’m really proud of how hard she had to battle through that pain.”

Yukon teammate Emily King would have been among the youngest in the competition. But the 11-year-old fractured her foot during the team’s first practice in Prince George.

“She was doing a front layout full on floor, landed really low and her foot landed at an angle and the ligament was pulled so tight it pulled a chunk out of her bone,” said O’Donovan. “She might be out for eight weeks, so that’s a couple competitions possibly missed this year.”

It’s been a tough year for Yukon’s gymnastics team in terms of injuries. Multi-time Yukon champ Fayne O’Donovan decided to retire from competition following ongoing problems with nerve damage in her ankle. Megan Banks had problems with injuries before deciding to focus on coaching. Anisa Albisser broke a bone in her foot three weeks ago.

“Reena had her own personal goals to stay focused on,” said O’Donovan. “We came here trying to focus on what skills she had and hit those skills. We had the goal of not placing last on every event, aiming to beat P.E.I. …

and all the way through the competition we were kind of head-to-head with them. So I guess we achieved our goal that way.”

Coyne, who won a bronze at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games, finished Tuesday’s competition with all eyes on her. She was the last competitor on the beam just as all the other events – floor, vault and uneven bars – came to an end.

Everyone one in the stands was watching as she stuck her front tuck onto the beam, which she called her “glory moment.”

“It’s awesome. I love meeting new people and I made a whole bunch of new friends and it’s something I’ll never forget,” said Coyne. “It’s kind of the best week of my life. I’m making a bunch of new friends and I’m never going to forget it.”

Contact Tom Patrick at


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