Seven-year-old Sooke gymnast Ava-Marie Jaeger is back handspringing her way straight to the top.
Ava’s mother, Sheila Jaeger, signed her daughter up for gymnastics two years ago, and this was her first season competing.
“I originally put her in soccer, but she was always just doing cartwheels on the field not paying attention, so I decided to sign her up for gymnastics,” said Jaeger. “I can’t believe how well she’s done so far.”
Jaeger explained that Ava practices at the Lions Pride Gymnastics Academy in Langford in the Junior Olympic Program, and was asked to join the competitive team within her first year.
“She skipped right over levels one and two, and competed at a junior level 3 this season which is incredible,” said Jaeger. “Next season she is going to go up a level or two again.”
The season runs from January to late May, and Ava competed at three different competitions.
During each competition, the gymnasts perform routines in four different categories: floor, vault, beams and bars.
Ava’s first competition was in Duncan, where she won gold in all four categories, and another gold medal for all-around score.
At her second competition in May, she won a gold, a bronze, two seventh places, and a bronze medal for all-around score. At her most recent competition, she won a silver, a bronze, a fourth, a fifth and another bronze medal for all-around score.
“My favourite part about the competitions was the awards,” said Ava. “And my favourite routine to do is the floor routine.”
She added that the best part about gymnastics is spending time with her teammates, which she thinks of as her sisters.
“They are an amazing group of girls that give tons of love and support to each other not only in competitions but in practices as well,” explained Jaeger.
Though the competition season is now over, Ava’s training will continue year-round. She trains for three hours, four nights a week.
Ava said her next goal is to do an aeriel, which is like a cartwheel, except you don’t use your hands and you land on both feet. She explained that the most difficult things she does right now are back handsprings and back tucks.
“It was amazing to see how well Ava did this season. She trains all the time, even when she’s not at practice,” said jaeger. “I am so extremely proud of her, and I hope she continues to enjoy the sport, wherever it takes her.”