By Ottawa Sportspage, For Tumblers Gymnastics Centre
The 2020 Tumblers Classic once again produced a pile of precious memories for the gymnasts who took part in the provincial championships qualifier on Feb. 7-8 in Orleans, like so many other young athletes have accrued in the 20+-year history of the event.
Take Mia Michaud-Fleet and Lilly-Rose Anderson – long-time Tumblers teammates, and best buds to boot.
The pair stayed side-by-side every step of the way in the Level 6, Age 10-11 competition (though both are still 9 years old). That included the post-event awards, when they occupied the 2nd and 3rd-place podium positions in the all-around standings.
They flip-flopped one another’s results – Michaud-Fleet was 2nd on vault ahead of Anderson in 3rd, while it was a 1-2 Tumblers finish (Anderson followed by Michaud-Fleet) on balance beam.
“It’s fun, and also challenging” to have a teammate of similar abilities, says Anderson, who also won gold on floor.
It’s a big help having a friend there when it comes to competition time too, the girls highlight.
“After our events, we always run back together and hug,” notes Michaud-Fleet, who took her first gymnastics class at Tumblers when she was 16 months old. “It’s just really fun.”
The young pair have known each other for over 5 years already, progressing through the competitive ranks at the same speed.
“We’re like partners because we’re basically the same height,” Michaud-Fleet indicates.
They now train together 19 hours a week at Tumblers.
“I like making new friends at gymnastics,” states Anderson. “I met Mia as my friend, and I’m really happy with her.”
Sharing in each other’s successes is special as well.
“We were really happy with our results,” Anderson adds. “I got 1st on my worst events actually, so I was really happy. I’ve never got 1st in my life.”
She says the reason it went so well on the big day was simple.
“Mia was there for me,” Anderson explains. “When I got nervous, she helped me.”
“I gave her a squishy toy,” Michaud-Fleet chimes in. “It’s a big cookie that smells and makes really good impressions that you can feel,” – functioning like a stress ball.
Michaud-Fleet says she was “really happy” with her performance as well.
“My friend got a few better medals than me, but I don’t get mad because I did my best,” she beams.
“Boy, that’s what it’s all about,” Tumblers coach and general manager Connie Groom says of her gymnasts’ relationship. “It’s really beautiful to see the kids having a great time, developing lasting friendships, and making all these memories.
“And it’s great to see this new generation having success.”
Coach Alfredo Calderon joins Tumblers
In mid-December, Tumblers hired a new women’s artistic gymnastics program director to help fuel the young athletes’ development – a well-known figure in the local gymnastics scene, Alfredo Calderon.
“It’s really, really good for the club,” Groom says of adding the coach who’s helped numerous athletes onto provincial and national teams. “Our gymnasts love him, our parents love him – he’s just so easy to work with, and it’s really special to see how he works with the kids.
“We’re really excited to see what the future holds.”
View photos from the Tumblers Classic here.