Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Kanata rhythmic gymnast overcomes stress of big competition for big nationals result

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By Emma Zhao

Ottawa’s Keira Agnew earned a breakthrough seventh-place result all-around on the first day of the senior high-performance competition at the Canadian Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships, which were held from May 23-26 at the Gatineau sports centre.

“I was really trying to be super focused and show what I can do,” highlighted the Kanata Rhythmic Gymnastics Club. “I came off and I had the best performance of my life and I was smiling so much.”

Agnew said that while her experience performing at the championships was really encouraging, watching other athletes from across the country compete also set the bar high.

“Seeing all the top gymnasts who had made it to finals, my brain kind of scattered,” recounted Agnew, who dropped to 13th in the standings on the second day of competition. “But I’m excited to push forward.”

While nerves came into play especially on the second day, Agnew has developed a personal strategy to help deal with the stress of competitions.

“If I’m feeling super nervous … I bring an apple with me,” outlined the Grade 11 Paul-Desmarais high school student. “If I forget to eat my apple, then I know I’m not focused and I know I’m going crazy. So, yeah, I bring an apple and I take a bite to calm myself down.”

During times of stress and anxiety, Agnew also looks to her coach as a source of support and to teammates, who provide an ear to listen.

“I’m just somebody in the role to help them bridge them towards their goals and success,” noted Kanata head coach Yuliana Korolyova. “Seeing it from the outside, their challenges … I’m happy that they come to me to help them overcome that.”

Managing stress and anxiety was a principal goal for the Kanata team this season, Korolyova indicated, to help set them up for future success.

Kanata’s Selena Pang, who earned her way into a high-performance division for the seventh consecutive season, also stood out at nationals, placing ninth all-around on the second day of senior competition.

Silvia Yu (12th junior open), Evangelia Sarlis (sixth senior open) and Leann Situ (16th senior open) completed the Kanata contingent at nationals.

The Ottawa Rhythmic Gymnastics Club’s senior development group were second of four entries, while Ottawa’s Stella Li and Viky Lin were and 30th in senior open.

“They have the ability to overcome the challenges, the nerves, the fear, so they were really able to stand up and show their best performance and their best qualities,” Korolyova said. “I’m really genuinely happy for them, that they’ve achieved what they’ve set out to achieve.

“We’re doing the right job, we’re on the right path. All the hard work and the mental training is working.”

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