Members of Team Saskatchewan Gymnaestrada are putting the final touches on a performance that has been four years in the making.
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From what started as Zoom practices during the pandemic to full previews showcasing athletes from across the province, the group of 53 athletes is ready to travel to Europe to showcase their skills along with thousands of other gymnasts.
“From competitive it just got stressful at one point,” said Osterbeck. “I wasn’t enjoying it as much. So taking that break from it and then just coming back with a less competitive environment I think was really good for me.”
In under two weeks, Team Saskatchewan will be representing the province and join a larger contingent of Canadian athletes at the 2023 World Gymnaestrada in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
The largest gathering of gymnasts from around the globe, the World Gymnaestrada is held every four years and features no medals or judging.
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Instead, close to 19,000 athletes of all ages from 60 different countries get the chance to perform routines just for the love of the sport.
“You’re just trained to be competitive, you want to be the best,” said Adisyn Helfrick. “But this is going to be so much fun, all the stress is gone. You just get to go and have fun and perform, because that’s all what we really love to do.”
Returning to the roots of gymnastics has been especially helpful for Devyn Cole, who was put into the sport from a young age to help burn off some of her energy.
She said getting to form connections with teammates has helped her overcome several barriers.
“I used to be really shy,” said Cole. “It’s helped me come out of my shell and meet life-long friends, and things that I kind of struggled with when I was younger because I was so shy. It’s definitely helped with confidence and expression.”
Team Saskatchewan has also partnered with the Peepeekisis First Nation on the creation of the routine, who will also be travelling to the competition.
The partnership, which focuses on aspects of the relationship with Canada’s Indigenous community, is something that holds extra weight for Breanna Schultz, who is of Metis heritage.
“We’re really showing the history of Canada and how we’re trying to make reconciliation today,” said Schultz. “It’s a very special and closer family I would say, because we’re trying to show so much more.”
Years of training will finally come to fruition when the longtime friends board the flight for Europe, getting the opportunity to share their stories through gymnastics to thousands of spectators.
“It’s going to be just really fun to show all of Canada and the world who Canada really is,” said Osterbeck.
Team Saskatchewan’s contingent of athletes fly to Amsterdam on Thursday next week with the 2023 World Gymnaestrada taking place from July 30 to August 5.
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