Friday, June 14, 2024

Tumblers Telegram: Tumblers debut in ‘flexible’ Xcel competitive gymnastics stream at 35th home Classic

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By Ottawa Sports Pages, for Tumblers Gymnastics Centre

Nearly 500 athletes competed in the 35th anniversary edition of the Tumblers Classic last weekend, and a sizeable chunk of them were participants in the host club’s popular new Xcel stream.

Xcel is a competitive gymnastics program, but doesn’t have the same requirements for training hours or compulsory routine elements as traditional provincial-level competition.

“It keeps a lot of athletes involved in the sport for longer,” underlines coach Anic Bellerose-Daneault, who introduced the program at Tumblers this season after seeing its success at clubs in Quebec, where she was previously based.

“It’s a good option in between recreational and high-level gymnastics,” she adds. “And you can still move up levels – you can do Xcel Silver, Gold and Platinum – and there’s a chance to travel and all that fun stuff too.”

Gymnasts in the Xcel program generally train between 6-9 hours per week, though flexibility is at the heart of the program. Many find that Xcel offers a nice balance alongside school and other sports/activities, and that the greater range of competition requirements can accommodate athletes whose bodies may not be as strong or flexible for certain events.

“A lot of kids who were in our rec program joined Xcel. It’s a good chance for them to be competitive,” Bellerose-Daneault signals. “Our first year was really good overall. We’re really proud of them.”

Nearly 50 Tumblers participated in Xcel divisions at the Classic, and the program also proved very popular with athletes’ parents – some of whom jumped in themselves. Saturday evening’s Masters Xcel division featured 27 entrants, from age 20 to 50.

“A lot of people come to watch and the crowd is really loud,” highlights Bellerose-Daneault, who coaches the advanced group, while there is also a beginners’ adult class, where adaptations are always possible to keep everyone in good health.

“Some of them are past provincial-level athletes, some are parents who enjoy the sport and wanted to try something different,” she notes. “It’s exciting to see them get new skills each week.”

The Tumblers Classic also featured Ontario Development Program divisions for participants just starting their gymnastics journeys, up to the top provincial levels, where many were testing out new skills in preparation for their next season.

The club is getting excited to support Tumblers teammate Samantha Couture, who represented Canada at an international event in Germany earlier this year, come the June 2-9 national championships next door in Gatineau.

“She’s a role model and others are looking at her and want to be as good as she is, so it really pushes everybody’s level up,” indicates Bellerose-Daneault, who looks forward to having other Tumblers rise up the ranks, having received compliments that the club’s ODP gymnasts were among the strongest they’ve seen in some time.

Bellerose-Daneault says that gymnastics’ wide range of participation opportunities is a big part of what makes the sport so special.

“We start at the age of 18 months, where they are just falling and going around and exploring, and then it goes all the way up to go for some really big goals,” she explains, while noting that it’s also possible to branch out into other related sports such as trampoline, power tumbling and cheer. “It’s a great sport for everybody – whatever level and age you are.”

The 35th anniversary edition of Tumblers Classic brought together almost 500 athletes from as far as Thunder Bay and parts of Quebec for the four-day meet. It was supported by 44 sponsors, largely local businesses in Ottawa’s east end.

“We cannot properly thank our athletes, coaches, volunteers, sponsors and honoured guests for their time and their generosity,” the Tumblers wrote in a post-event Instagram post. “It takes an army to host an event like this and we are honoured to be surrounded by such amazing people who are willing to lend a hand.

“From the smallest of gestures to the largest of contributions we thank each and every one of you. We are looking forward to the 2025 edition of the Tumblers Classic and can’t wait to see you all again next year.”

Learn more about Tumblers Gymnastics Centre at Tumblers.ca.

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