There’s nothing like laying it on the mat and walking away a champion and two Keswick preteens did just that — with the characteristic walk of both a gymnast and a dancer — this past weekend.
Justine Blanchard, 11, and Lenee Dimkin, 12, are fellow Keswick Public School students who have been training together as gymnasts since they were seven years old.
In addition to competitive gymnastics, the girls are acrobatic duet partners, dancing since the age of three at the Allegro Dance Academy in Keswick.
The high level gymnasts train 24 hours a week at Global Gymnastics in Aurora under Olympic level head coach Sasha Sirenko and coach Natasha Sirenko.
They will represent the province next month after impressive performances competing against the top 24 girls at the Ontario Championships April 9 at the Toronto International Centre.
Dimkin finished in 4th on vault, uneven bars, beam and floor, taking home 1st place overall and the provincial champion title.
She will represent Team Ontario at Nationals in Edmonton June 1.
“I was in fifth place going into the competition and was fighting to stay there in order to make nationals, but I never imagined winning,” Dimkin said.
“It feels like a dream. The gymnasts in our category are all very strong and I am proud that I hit my personal bests on some of the events. I am excited to represent Ontario at nationals and my goal is for Ontario to win the gold and I want to become a national champion.”
Blanchard finished 12th on vault; 9th on uneven bars; 7th on beam and 3rd on floor, finishing 7th overall.
Blanchard will be taking the first spot on Team Ontario heading to the Eastern Canadian Championships in Quebec City May 5.
“I feel I did OK at provincial championships. I did not do my personal best on all events, but I am proud because I performed skills that I was struggling with in the past,” Blanchard said.
“I am happy to be representing Ontario at eastern championships. My goal is to achieve my personal best in all events and to support my other teammates to bring home the gold for Ontario.”
Incredibly, the well-spoken, talented and driven duo took to the dance floor Saturday after the provincial gymnastics competition, taking first place overall in their category.
The girls credit the support of all their teachers and school principal for helping to balance their scholastic endeavours with the rigorous training schedules that come with being elite athletes.