P.E.I. gymnasts test their skills after nearly a year without competing

It’s been nearly a year since some P.E.I. gymnasts have had a chance to test their skills at a competitive level. They got a taste of it this weekend.

'The last time I competed was back last February, so it feels a little weird to get back, but it feels good'

Gymnasts got in some practice on the weekend at a test event at the Island Gymnastics Academy. (Tony Davis/CBC)

It's been nearly a year since some P.E.I. gymnasts have had a chance to test their skills at a competitive level, but this weekend they got a taste of it.

Provincial championships were cancelled and some athletes lost their opportunity to compete at the national level. It's all due to COVID-19 and the travel restrictions created by it.

However, on Sunday, the Island Gymnastics Academy hosted a test competition.

"It's just to … get their feet wet and get a feeling of all the jitters of trying to perform," said Shelley Ferguson, competitive program director at the academy.

Gymnasts stretch ahead of the test competition. (Tony Davis/CBC)

Usually the test happens right before Christmas, but circuit-breaker restrictions closed the academy for 10 days, Ferguson said.

"The end of February, first of March, was our last actual competing time but they have been training since June," she said. "We feel very blessed because there are a lot of clubs across Canada that are completely closed."

Island gymnast Isabelle MacKinnon says she hopes to be able to attend some off-Island competitions soon. (Tony Davis/CBC)

Island gymnast Isabelle MacKinnon, in Grade 8 at Queen Charlotte Intermediate School, said she was worried she may have forgotten a few things. But it all came back when she hit the floor.

"The last time I competed was back last February, so it feels a little weird to get back, but it feels good," she said.

"I like seeing my friends and like competing. Competing is really fun, especially at … floor because you have your own music."

MacKinnon said she hopes she can get back to competing outside of P.E.I. soon.

Parents, physically distanced and wearing masks, were able to watch as the gymnasts practised on floor, bars, vault and beam.

'We just have to be grateful for what we got,' says Nick Murray, executive director of the Island Gymnastics Academy. (Tony Davis/CBC)

"This is sort of the first competitive event that our gymnasts have had in which they are able to put on their gym suit and perform in front of judges," said Nick Murray, executive director of the academy.

"I think everybody is delighted. I know the gymnasts have been really excited the last couple weeks. It gives the parents an opportunity as well. They haven't been in the gym in 10 months."

Competition season usually runs from January until around May.

2021 competitions? 

Murray said he already knows the Eastern Canadian championships has been cancelled and there is a question mark around the nationals.

"We just have to be grateful for what we got," he said. "The fact we are able to … run a program, it certainly is a good thing for us as a club."

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