Historic time for Langley Gymnastics

This is shaping up to be a memorable next few weeks for the Langley Gymnastics Foundation.

Based out of the Langley Events Centre, LGF is once again hosting the Christy Fraser Invitational Friday to Sunday, Feb. 20 to 22, inside the LEC’s arena bowl.

The host club will have 98 competitive and 40 interclub gymnasts taking part in the three-day competition.

In total, roughly 20 clubs and 800 athletes will converge on the LEC for the meet, some coming from as far away as Alberta and Fort St. John.

A qualifier for Zone 3 Junior Olympics (JO) women’s Level 5 and 6 gymnasts to go to the B.C. artistic championships scheduled for April 11-12 in North Vancouver, the meet is circled on many clubs’ calendars around the province.

The meet will be held inside the LEC’s arena bowl.

“It’s a very beautiful venue,” said Melissa Coombes, one of LGF’s technical directors. “We’re lucky to have the events centre, to have access to. It feels like something really big for any level of athlete. We’re excited, and very proud.”

Coombes said preparation for the meet begins extremely early.

“The day that the competition ends is when we start planning the next one,” Coombes said.

She added, “We’re really excited, we’re looking forward to it, and we’ve got lots of people in the community who are supporting us.”

This competition is in honour of Christy Fraser, an avid and dedicated competitive gymnast, who passed away in 1992.

She was 12 years old.

Christy’s mother Lory is still actively involved with LGF as a volunteer and board member.

Each year, Lory presents the Christy Fraser Memorial Award to one athlete at the event who “demonstrates the positive, determined and supportive attitude that her daughter Christy had,” noted LGF executive assistant and marketing coordinator Annie Christiaens.

Around the same time as the Christy Fraser meet, 17-year-old LGF athlete Cam Stanley will make club history when he goes for gold at the Canada Winter Games (CWG) in Prince George.

Regardless of how he fares in northern B.C., Stanley has set a new standard at LGF, by becoming first athlete from the club to ever qualify to represent B.C. at the CWG.

He was able to make it on Team BC, even though just a month ago he was still recovering from a serious knee injury.

Stanley qualified through two trials, the second of which was held Jan. 11 at the LGF gym.

The top four all-around gymnasts at the trials punched their tickets to the CWG, with the final two spots on the six-member team being determined by a set amount of points, Stanley explained.

Stanley qualified via the points system.

“I was pretty nervous,” Stanley said. “I was a bit shaky but I got through it.”

Going into the Games, Stanley, who is competing in six events, said he hopes to “hit all my routines and just help out the team as much as possible.”

Stanley said he’ll go there, give his best, and “really soak in the experience.”

“It’s a fun time,” Stanley said. “I’m really hyped about that.”

Meanwhile, a pair of LGF gymnasts, 13-year-old Haley Biggin in  National Open, and 12-year-old Ally Armstrong in National Novice, are in Trois Rivieres, Que., competing in Canada Elite.

The high-level artistic meet runs from Jan 29 to Feb. 1.

Having gymnasts competing at Elite Canada is also a first for LGF.

By achieving the required score to qualify at a meet at Flicka Gymnastics in North Vancouver last month, Biggin and Armstrong will compete on vault, bars, beam, and floor in Trois Rivieres.

As for nerves going into an event of this magnitude, Armstrong has learned how to manage her butterflies.

“Over the years I’ve figured out how to deal with nerves,” she said last week. “It is a big competition, so yes I am nervous but I’m nervous and excited.”

The two have immersed themselves in the sport, training five days a week, four to five hours each day at LGF.

“Sometimes it can be a little much but we love it,” Armstrong said.

LGF women’s coach Flaviu Toma  is with the girls.

“This is an opportunity for the kids to qualify for the junior national team, senior national team, and youth…,” Toma explained.

An Olympic-level coach, Toma said his expectation is for Armstrong and Biggin to complete their routines properly.

“That’s the No. 1 thing,” he said. “Hitting all their routines the way they can do it, and we’ll see how they place.”

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