It’s going to be an extremely busy month for gymnasts in the City.
Over the course of the next three weeks, Red Deer’s Exelta Gymnastics Club will play host to three competitions in the City including two Exelta Cup competitions and a provincial qualifier.
According to Exelta Gymnastics Head Coach Barb Bilsborrow, the Club will be a popular place this weekend as they host the Women’s Artistic Exelta Cup.
“We have 550 athletes attending, which is a record for us,” said Bilsborrow of the meet, which will be held Friday through Sunday at the Collicutt Centre.
Meanwhile, the Club will host a one day long Men’s Artistic Exelta Cup the following weekend featuring just under 100 athletes.
They will then welcome athletes from all over the province as they host the first Trampoline and Tumbling Alberta Cup of the season from Feb. 18th-20th.
Bilsborrow noted that Red Deer will be well represented at all three competitions.
“In all three there’s many, many,” she laughed, adding that if she had to guess she would say there will be 80 to 90 Red Deerians competing in this weekend’s women’s competition alone.
Meanwhile, around 15 athletes will suit up for the local club on the 12th while about 33 will take to the mats for the T&T event at the end of the month to vie for a spot in the provincial competition.
The team will also have three national level athletes competing at the T&T event.
“It was an Olympic year this year and we did definitely see a higher number of enrolment this year for us, which typically happens which is great for us,” Bilsborrow said, adding that many of the athletes — especially the ones who compete at the elite level of the sport — have dedicated an immense amount of time to the sport.
“Competitive (gymnastics) is a life-long sport.”
Elite level gymnasts often will dedicate anywhere from six to 27 hours per week to training depending on their age and most athletes will start the sport at the age of five and continue to compete in it right through to the end of high school.
“It is a huge commitment but definitely a life-long commitment. You definitely accumulate the numbers when that happens, which is great. We love that,” Bilsborrow said, noting that right now is an exciting time to be a gymnast in Red Deer.
Though in the short term, she said, the club will be focusing on preparing for this month’s competitions, they’ve also got their sights set on the horizon as Red Deer prepares to host the 2019 Canada Winter Games.
“Our club will be a big part of hosting the gymnastics portions of the Winter Games.”
She noted that Exelta’s role as one of the host sites for the nation’s largest sports meet is one of the reasons that they are hosting so many high profile events.
“Again we’ll do the Exelta Cups and we’ll host provincial championships next year as a test event for the Canada Winter Games,” she said.
As the games draw closer, Bilsborrow said the team has a few athletes that are gearing up to make a run at competing at the event.
The club will have five athletes that may qualify to go to the trials and try out for the team including two in the Artistic program and three in T&T.
“We definitely are looking to hopefully have some kids try out for that team. It is very, very hard to make but we always try to keep our fingers crossed.”
The 2017 Women’s Artistic Exelta Cup will be held this weekend from Friday through Sunday at the Collicutt Centre.