Represents Burlington club
Ainsley McCarles is in fine form.
The 13-year-old Waterdown gymnast, who recently earned an all-around third-place finish at the Ontario Provincial Championships, is set to compete at the Eastern Canadian Championships this weekend.
The meet, which runs May 8-10 in Moncton, NB, will see some of the best athletes from the nation’s eastern provinces compete for top honours in their respective divisions.
McCarles is one of four gymnasts selected to represent Ontario in the championship’s Level 8 division. The event will be the last in the Guardian Angels Catholic Elementary School student’s competitive season.
In January, McCarles and her Burlington Gymnastics Club peers, including Waterdown’s Alex Kline, travelled to Las Vegas, to compete in the Lady Luck Invitational Tournament.
There, McCarles hit the jackpot. The elite athlete, who has been pursuing gymnastics competitively since age six, placed second in her competitive class.
“She’s had an awesome season, just awesome,” said Kathy Kline, Burlington Gymnastics Club’s competitive program coordinator.
Under the guidance of artistic head coach Kathy Hubbard and technical director Glen Cooper, McCarles is limbering up for this week’s event in the hopes of bringing home gold.
The young athlete has shown great strength on the balance beam, vault and uneven bars. Her floor routine, however, is her strongest and most impressive.
“Her floor is amazing,” said Kline.
McCarles is practically a fixture at the Maple Avenue training centre, where she trains 20 hours over the course of five days each week.
In addition to rehearsing her routines, she spends a considerable amount of time on building her endurance.
“I do conditioning and make sure I’m strong and ready for the meet,” said the gymnast.
The regimen, noted Kline, is brutal but necessary.
And although they train an average of five hours per day, “it’s never enough,” said the Club representative.
While the coaches long for more time to further develop their athletes, so do gymnasts like McCarles, who is passionate about the sport and driven to succeed.
McCarles’s gymnastics career started when she was a pre-schooler and quickly blossomed after joining the Burlington club’s competitive stream.
Competitive gymnastics isn’t for the faint hearted. Just ask McCarles’s mom, Karla.
“The higher skill she gets, the harder it is to watch. But I watch,” she said.
Gymnastics is a sport that calls for a high degree of discipline – on and off the mats.
Since she must spend so many hours training, McCarles’s schooldays are cut short. Most days, she leaves her Grade 8 class at 2 p.m. On Fridays, she is dismissed at 11:30 a.m.
Supportive teachers provide information on the in-class lessons but it’s up to McCarles to stay on top of her academic work, which she does by “organizing my time” and “spending my time wisely.”
“Sometimes, when the other kids go outside, I’ll stay in and catch up on the work that I need to do,” she said.
With only days to go before the Eastern Canadian Championships, McCarles is focused and ready to show off her skills to the judges. She’s also confident in her team’s abilities and believes “Team Ontario will do pretty well” at the competition.
Looking ahead, McCarles anticipates taking a three-week break from gymnastics during the summer months. Then, she’ll resume her intensive training and continue her ongoing quest to represent her club and the province at other prestigious events.