Surrey Gymnastic Society member Ayia Punzalan is recorded during a routine for a recent virtual competition. (submitted photo)

Surrey Gymnastic Society member Ayia Punzalan is recorded during a routine for a recent virtual competition. (submitted photo)


Surrey gymnasts leap to compete during pandemic with help of video camera

‘We’re finding a way to make it happen for the kids during a pretty difficult year,’ coach says

Young Surrey gymnasts are finding a way to compete during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Routines are being video-recorded for submission to judges in a series of competitions this year, including provincials.

It’s a system that local gymnastics groups will have to employ for the rest of the year, at least.

“We’re finding a way to make it happen for the kids during a pretty difficult year,” said Vanessa Medeiros, a competitive-stream coach with Surrey Gymnastics Society, which operates two facilities in Newton.

“We know for certain it will be like this, with videotaped routines, for the rest of this season, and there’s a hope to have some sort of in-person competitions by January or February next year,” Medeiros said.

At the club’s Frank Hurt facility, gymnasts are currently filming routines for provincial championships, with results expected in a week to 10 days.

“They give us one week, actually a bit less, to film all the routines, and then we submit those to the judges,” using a private YouTube channel, Medeiros explained.

There are some benefits about recording the routines, she said. 

“It’s probably less stressful (for the gymnasts), for sure, and it’s nice to be able to showcase their talents without the added stress, because they’re competing in our own facility,” Medeiros noted.

“We don’t have a huge program, so it’s under the 50-person limit when we gather here. It’s a nice opportunity for sportsmanship. Having athletes from different levels, and various groups, competing at the same time isn’t something that usually happens during competitions.”

Through it all, the club is still looking for a facility to replace its leased space at Frank Hurt.

• READ MORE: Surrey Gymnastic Society needs a new home

Members of Surrey Gymnastics Society recently competed virtually during the 2021 Twisters Invitational: “A Stream of Champions” event.

In the Junior Olympic Level 2 group, 11 young gymnasts “absolutely dominated the field,” according to Medeiros. “Ayia Punzalan, Dinea Usison and Silinna Lu all secured the all-around title in their age groups. Ayia and Dinea both scored over 9.9 (out of 10) on floor.”

Other highlights include 2nd all-around for Brianna Lopez and Angela Caloz, 1st on vault and 3rd all-around for Aaisha Maiwand, 2nd on vault and floor for Krysta Grenkow, 3rd on vault for Shriya Shah, 2nd on bars for Nia Gill, 4th on floor for Tegan Ziprick and 4th on beam for Makaylah Neidert.

There were many highlights in Junior Olympic level 7 age groups, Medeiros said. “Sofia Villamil, 12, finished 2nd on beam and 2nd all-around,” Medeiros said. “Teammate Kiana Carter earned a bronze medal on both vault and beam. In the youngest JO 7 age category, Isabeau Isaacson powered her way to a silver medal on vault. Teenaged teammates Anna Polunocheva and Melissa Piliotis finished 1st and 2nd on beam, respectively. In JO 6, Leila Carlsen finished first on vault and teammate Tania Mendez earned a silver medal on floor and a bronze medal on vault.”

In the JO 4 group, “Chloe Ostrosser achieved the top score on bars and the silver medal on beam in order to win the all-around age group title. Teammate Madeleine Gassien’s silver medal performances on beam and floor helped her secure the bronze medal all-around.”

Surrey Gymnastic Society boasts the only boys competitive program in Surrey, Medeiros noted. “The men’s team also competed at the Twisters Invitational. In MAG Provincial 1, strong showings by Krish Puri, Arnav Puri, and Valen Wickstead resulted in silver all-around.”

In MAG Provincial 3 (12 and under), Malakai Ostrosser medalled on floor, pommel horse, rings, and high bar on his way to 3rd place in the all-around. Tyler Cheng was 9th all-around.

In MAG Provincial 3 (13+), Jai Mehta won the bronze medal on floor and vault and finished 4th all-around. Teammate Paul Bashko finished 8th all-around in the competitive category.

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