A little over a week ago, Peterborough gymnast Cassidy Connelly was just happy to have qualified.
The 16 year old had earned a spot on Team Ontario and qualified to compete at the Eastern Canadian Championships which ran from May 11- 14 in Charny, Quebec.
It was the perfect ending to successful competitive gymnastics career.
“I’ve done everything I wanted to do,” stated Connelly prior to the competition.
Little did she know that one more honour would be in her future.
Connelly, who competed in the Open 3 category at the championship, had the performance of a lifetime and claimed gold in the floor event and placed high enough in the other three to take the top spot over all; a first in the history of the Kawartha Gymnastics Club.
“I was so amazed just to make it, “stated Connelly. “I never thought I’d take the whole thing.”
The gymnast performed incredibly well in the face of a number of obstacles that she had never met before.
Each of her four events had slightly different equipment which, to it that the average person wouldn’t take as being a big deal, but for a gymnast who is used to the same equipment for the better part of 10 years, the smallest change can have drastic effects.
The biggest challenge that Connelly had to contend with was the lack of pressure that she usually feels going into a competition.
“I was nervous about the fact that I didn’t have much pressure on myself,” said Connelly. “I wasn’t aiming for anything and the fact that the equipment was different made me a little nervous as well.”
Connelly did however have an anchor of familiarity in her corner.
Becky Ansell, Connelly’s coach, was able to make the trip and be her floor coach throughout her rotation during the competition and not only provide the technical feedback she required, but also the moral support to do her best.
“She gave me a few last minute corrections and then told me to go show what I could do,” said Connelly.
The champion placed first on floor, second on vault, fourth on bars and fifth on beam all of which added up to placing her first over all in her category.
Connelly’s mother, Sue, has watched her daughter work towards this throughout her childhood and into her teens. It’s a commitment that she understands more than the average parent. She was also a gymnast and worked not only as a coach, but a board member of the club in the past.
“I would be proud of her no matter what, but I think I have a better understanding because I have been a gymnast and understand the sacrifices she has made.”
Sacrifices that the PCVS student may not have to make for much longer.
Connelly is considering hanging up her suit at the end of this season.
“ I haven’t thought that much about it,” stated Connelly. “But if I do retire this is the best way to go out. I couldn’t have asked for a better ending.”