Kirsten Peterman got more than she bargained for at the world gymnastics championships in China earlier this month.
The Cambridge native and member of Canada’s senior women’s artistic gymnastic team traveled to Nanning, China, expecting to compete in the vault event at the world championships that ran from Oct. 3 to 12.
A knee injury to teammate Aleeza Yu early in the competition changed those plans in a hurry. Peterman, 16, was inserted into all the events, including the un-even bars, beam and floor exercise.
Being thrown into the fire didn’t rattle the cage of the member of Revolution Gymnastics in Waterloo.
“At that moment I had to mentally and physically prepare myself,” she says. “It definitely helped with learning how to stay calm when being thrown into any situation.”
Peterman performed admirably, helping Canada to a 12th place finish. She put up the best vault score on the team and finished 32nd overall in that event out of 212 gymnasts.
It was another step forward for the gymnast who started in the sport when she was three and entered the national program at age 10.
“Right now I’m just pushing to improve my difficulty and execution in each event,” Peterman says. “Working hard to add new skills.”
Peterman’s journey to the highest level of gymnastics has had plenty of stops.
The Grade 11 student is currently at St. David Catholic Secondary School in Waterloo, her third school in three years. She spent half of Grade 9 at Preston High School in Cambridge before switching to attend Abbey Park High School in Oakville.
Her carousel of schools is the direct result of all the gymnastic gyms she has trained at. Originally a Cambridge Kips member, Peterman made the switch to Dynamo Gymnastics before leaving for Future Gymnastics in Mississauga. Last summer, she returned to Waterloo Region to train at Revolution.
In preparation for the world championships, she’s also trained with the national team at Manjak’s Gymnastics in Mississauga.
“It’s been tough moving around and having to go to new schools and everything, but in the end it’s really worked out,” says Peterman, who has already committed to the University of Maryland for 2016. “I’ve really learned a lot from all of my coaches. I don’t regret going to any club I’ve ever been at.”
At Revolution, Peterman is under the tutelage of head coach Aaron Brokenshire.
Brokenshire believes Peterman’s two greatest assets are her determination and physical strength. He says she has missed one asset, one that is out of her control – timing. “If the Olympics were this year, there would have been a pretty good chance she would have been there,” Brokenshire says.
That’s not to say she won’t be there someday. Brokenshire and Peterman have agreed that the best way to get her there is to make sure there is an area in which Canada can use her skills, the strongest of which is the vault.
“It’s our intention to make her the best vaulter in Canada which is a pretty bold statement considering that her teammate Ellie Black is one of the best vaulters in the world,” Brokenshire says, noting that Black made the Olympic finals in the event in 2012. “It’s a substantial thing to ask for.”
To get there, Peterman practises six days a week, putting in at least 30 hours at the gym.
Brokenshire believes she has the ability to accomplish her goals if she continues to put in the work, as he’s seen a tremendous amount of growth in her abilities since she arrived at Revolution.
“She has done an amazing job over the last 12 months of going from a gymnast who maybe flew under the radar a bit, one that maybe people didn’t see coming,” explains Brokenshire. “She should be really proud of herself.”
Waterloo Region Record