In athletic parlance, to be “in the zone” is an elusive and special feeling – a state of being in compete control, brimming with confidence.
That’s precisely the head space that Steven Chaplin found himself in at the national gymnastics championships in Ottawa last week.
Chaplin, an athlete out of Abbotsford’s Twisters Gymnastics Club, turned in a terrific performance en route to the overall title in the junior men’s division.
“The way I was feeling that day, it was indescribable,” marvelled Chaplin, a 16-year-old Mission native who attends W.J. Mouat Secondary. “I just felt on top, and I felt like there was nothing stopping me and I could do anything I wanted.
“I mentally prepared, I physically prepared . . . and I just came out having a good day, and feeling great.”
National championships don’t happen overnight, and Chaplin’s was years in the making.
After his Grade 7 year at Mission’s E.S. Richards Elementary, he transitioned into the Abbotsford school district to facilitate his training at Twisters.
“Mission schools get out at the same time I train,” he explained, adding that he found it “challenging” to switch schools after attending Richards from kindergarten through Grade 7.
“It was a big change there, but it was all about dedication towards training.”
Chaplin won silver at last year’s Canadian championships in a lower division, national youth. Richard Ikeda, one of the men’s coaches at Twisters, noted that moving up to junior was a big decision for the youngster.
“He worked really hard this year,” Ikeda said.
“He made sure his routines were consistent enough, but it really comes down to the day. It comes down to him being aggressive and not holding back, and he was really focused. Everything went in the right direction.”
• Seven other Twisters gymnasts competed at nationals. On the men’s side, Cohen Kiers and Dawson Friesen placed 24th and 27th all-around respectively in the national youth category. Ken Ikeda and Zachary Clay competed at the senior level, with Ikeda finishing fifth on the parallel bars (he did not compete all-around) and Clay ending up 12th all-around.
On the women’s side, Ashlynn Skulstad and Andry Friesen’s best placings in the national open division were fourth on beam for Skulstad and 10th on bars for Friesen. Emily Moorthy notched a 10th-place result on the floor in the national novice category.
• On the international scene, Ken Ikeda is set to attend the Portugal World Cup, June 19-23, as part of a five-member Canadian team. His older brother Richard, a former national team athlete, has been selected as Team Canada coach.
• Another group of Twisters athletes competed at the Garden City Invitational in Victoria, and combined for 22 medals.
Gold medallists included Zoe Rumsby (level 2 argo, gold on beam, floor and all-around), Marissa Engh (level 2 argo, gold on beam, silver on floor, bronze all-around), Brienna Gaspar (level 4 argo/tyro, gold all-around, silver on beam, bronze on bars and floor), Ella Palmer (level 4 argo/tyro, gold on vault, silver on floor) and Lexi Gaspar (level 2 open, gold on bars, silver all-around, bronze on vault and floor).