For Keiara Jones-Tyrell, the international gymnastics stage once again beckons.
While ill-timed back spasms threatened to derail her return to last weekend’s Team Ontario Tour Selection, the 14-year-old Milton Springer managed to make it to the Etobicoke Olympium.
Grabbing on of the last spots on the provincial squad last season, Keiara would catapult herself to the top of the pecking order this time around — thanks to a personal-best performance on competition-closing vault.
Making significant strides in that event this fall — with a growing sense of confidence allowing her to gain more height — she delivered a top score of 9.425 to capture Level 8 13-and-up’s all-around title by one-tenth of a point over London’s Rachel Simpson.
“I was really happy… so excited,” said the Bishop Reding Secondary School ninth grader of her tour selection triumph — in a field of 35 gymnasts, including three club-mates — which qualifies her for the Las Vegas’ Lady Luck Invitational in mid-January.
Keiara’s victory marks the first individual success story for new Springers’ head coach Craig Smith, a 30-year instructor who was instrumental in building the Mississauga Team Futures program.
“Keiara really followed our preparation program to a T, and this win is the culmination of that,” said Smith. “At this level it’s the specifics, the fine details that set a gymnast apart from the crowd. Keiara’s bought into that.”
Another example of that last weekend came on the uneven bars, with the overall champ executing her newly-incorporated free hip to handstand in impressive fashion on the way to a personal-best 9.450 that was good enough for bronze.
“It’s been pretty amazing (working with new coach),” said Keiara, who following her initial Team Ontario selection turned in a golden performance at Mexico’s Cancun Classic in January. Last weekend’s overall victory included a seventh on the beam and 12th on floor. “I feel like I’ve improved on just about everything.”
As the all-around champ, Keiara secured the ‘Team Coach’ spot, meaning Springers’ instructor Maryna Vorobyova will be joining her in Las Vegas.
“That’s a big advantage for Keiara,” stressed Smith.
On the strength of an eighth-place finish on the beam, Madison Lunshof took 12th in the Level 8 13-and-up division, while Jillian Sternloff and Meaghan O’Donnell placed 18th and 22nd respectively.
Rounding out the Springers’ team selections contingent was Alex Robson, who earned eighth-place showings on beam and floor and was 26th overall.
The club’s competitive squad heads to Pickering next weekend for its first of three provincial qualifying meets.
Milton Canadian Champion