How gymnastics helps P.E.I.'s Canada Games flag bearer live beyond cystic fibrosis
'There's always some way I can better myself'
P.E.I. competitive gymnast Cameron Davis has been living with cystic fibrosis his whole life — and says being physically active through gymnastics allows him to live beyond the limitations of the genetic disease.
Davis will take his place as P.E.I.'s flag bearer at the Canada Winter Games, alongside 150 other Island athletes in Red Deer, Alta., from Feb. 15 to March 2.
Living with CF
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease which affects both the lungs and the pancreas, Davis said.
It's one of those once-in-a-lifetime kind of opportunities.— Cameron Davis
"It affects the lungs through a thick build-up of mucous that blocks or restricts airways," he said.
He realized early on that running sports weren't necessarily for him due to potential breathing issues related to his CF.
"But gymnastics is a lot about full body movements — we move in a ton of different ways," he said.
Davis got his start in gymnastics just four short years ago at school, "where you kind of roll around on the mats and have fun," he said.
Now, the Grade 12 student has qualified to compete in the Canada Winter Games.
"The thing I like about it so much is it's something new to work on, or learn, or just improve. There's always some way I can better myself," he said.
Four years ago, during the last Canada Games — competing wasn't even on the young gymnast's radar.
Training with CF
Davis spent about a year in recreational gymnastics before taking the leap into the competitive side of the sport. This will be his fifth year doing gymnastics.
"Each week I train for 18 and a half hours — so that's split between five days," he said.
On top of that, Davis said, he coaches in his spare time .
To manage his CF, Davis takes pills with each meal to be able to digest the fat and protein in his food.
"It can be inconvenient at times. I take six pills … to eat just like a normal meal but I mean — I've been doing it for 18 years and I've gotten used to it a bit," he said.
The notion of competing and being chosen to represent the Island as flag bearer is "surreal," he said.
"It's one of those once-in-a-lifetime kind of opportunities — it's not very often or there's not many people that get to fly to Alberta and compete in their sport of choice and represent their province at such a high level," Davis said.