Tyler Yee and Nathanael Gilroy-Wells have been at the KW Gymnastics Club since they were both four.
Yee, now 11, was put into the gym by his mother because he had a habit of climbing on anything he could get his hands on.
Gilroy-Wells, 13, started out with a friend from his neighbourhood and continued with the sport even though his comrade quit early.
Now Yee and Gilroy-Wells will share another mutual destination — the University of Calgary International Cup later this month.
Both qualified to represent Team Ontario in Calgary for the March 26-29 competition with their results at the men’s artistic gymnastics Second Ontario Cup in Muskoka last month.
Josh Caron, head coach of the men’s team at KW Gymnastics, will also serve as the coach of Yee’s level 3 Ontario team when the three head out west.
Qualifying to compete in Calgary has been a goal of the two gymnasts for a while now.
“This is something the two of them have really been shooting for the last year and a half,” Caron says. “It’s great to see it come to fruition.”
The provincial meet was the first time Yee was old enough to qualify for the national event and he took full advantage in Muskoka.
The Jean Steckle Public School student finished first in the pommel horse, parallel bars and all-around competition in the level 3 division for athletes aged 10 and 11.
While the results couldn’t have been much better, Yee is still striving to get better. He mentioned a recent fall on his fly away in the high bars, which caused him to be a little apprehensive in the event. But he’s continued to attack the event and improve.
“If you don’t have the attitude that you want to be a good gymnast, then it’s like, why are you here?” he asks.
Yee wants to eventually land a scholarship in gymnastics with the continued help of coach Caron. Having his tutor alongside him in Calgary should only improve his performance.
“I think it’s really helpful because I’m used to his techniques from training with him,” explains Yee. “He’s fun and he doesn’t make it too hard for us because he’ll teach us things he knows we can do.”
Gilroy-Wells will have a different coach on Team Ontario as he qualified for the level 4 team for 12- and 13-year-olds.
The Centennial Public School student has played a slew of sports, including golf, soccer and lacrosse, but he has always been drawn to the challenges gymnastics presents.
“You have to push your limits in gymnastics and you find out really quickly where those limits are,” Gilroy-Wells says. “You have to keep pushing beyond those limits because it’s kind of bragging rights for yourself and between your teammates.”
One thing Gilroy-Wells has never experienced is nervousness to test his limits. While he’s never competed outside of Ontario, he’s going to approach the Calgary trip like he does on the mat every day.
“When coach says it’s time to try a new skill I’m just like, I’m down, let’s go,” he says. “I think the only reason I am where I am is because I’m not afraid to take risks.”
Among Gilroy-Wells other strengths is, well, his strength. That power is one thing that separates Gilroy-Wells from the smaller Yee, and a big reason the two excel in different events.
The two are friends and use words like ‘cool’, ‘chill’ and ‘crazy’ to describe one another, but their demeanour in the gym also differ sometimes, according to Caron.
“Nathanael has turned into a very focused and self-competitive gymnast,” Caron says. “Tyler is a little easier going, a little more accepting of mistakes in practice. But in competition he’s an absolute demon. Head-on, eyes forward and it’s just a pleasure to watch.”
Ryan Young’s column appears on Wednesdays. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org