Much like the girls’ side of the Red Deer Exelta Gymnastics Club, the artistic boys are continuing to grow with twice as many competitive athletes this year.
There are 15 boys in the competitive division, with six of those beginners.
The club had nine athletes competing in the Exelta Cup Saturday at the Collicutt Centre.
Boys’ head coach Jie Wang has been with the club for 18 years and knows what it takes to develop national level athletes.
“When they’re young it takes a lot of time for them to develop because they need to work on six apparatuses and if they spend to many hours at it it’s too much for them, so it takes a little more time.”
The majority of the beginners are four-six years of age and don’t compete yet.
Wang does have his share of national level athletes with Alan Ng, Conner Trepanier, Findlay McCormick and Dylan Patsula.
“I have four 15 year-olds and one 13,” he said. “But the problem is once they get to university age they move on.”
He knows that first hand as his son Justin was a premier level athlete, winning the Western Canadian all-around title, and is now at university.
“That’s frustrating a bit as you work with them from beginner on up and then they’re gone.”
Wang is working with at least his third group of kids, who started as beginners and have moved up.
But he enjoys watching the younger kids develop.
‘It would be best to work with elite level athletes, but I don’t mind teaching the younger kids,” he said.
“I feel happy to see the kids do well . . . I’m happy for them. Just today I talked with another coach in Edmonton who I coached before.”
Wang has seen a significant change to the club since he first arrived from China in 1994 as well as gymnastics period.
“The biggest change has been to the rules,” he said. “Before everyone was after the perfect 10, now scoring starts at 10 and they add skill components and degree of difficulty.”
World calibre athletes can reach 15 or 16 in their point totals, although it will be lower for the younger groups.
“At the age group it’s limited as they restrict the kids if their risk is too high . . . they don’t want to rush them.”
With a strong older group of kids in the club, it makes Wang’s job a bit easier.
“They work together and push each other . . . it’s a good team right now.”
He believes the club will continue to grow, but there’s only one problem.
“We would need more coaches,” he said. “We have to be patient, especially with the younger kids and so need more help in that area.”
Wang did work with the women’s program in the past, and still does if he can.
“I’ll give my point of view if I can, but there’s not enough time to do both sides.”
Ng won the national youth title at the Exelta Cup with Trepanier second, McCormick fourth and Patsula fifth.
Mitchell Kalan was third in the 13-and-over level 4 competition while Kyle Jackson took second and Paul Dan sixth in the 13-and-over level 3 division.
Jared Hoffman was fourth in the 12-and-under level 2 category with Brayden Lord fifth in the 10-and-under level 1 division.
In the Exelta Cup tumbling and trampoline on Sunday, Savannah Chanminaraj won the provincial C tumbling, trampoline and double-mini trampoline (DMT).
In provincial C men, Benn Bilsborrow was second in DMT, ninth bin tumbling and 10th on the trampoline while Carter Pisko was seventh in DMT, fifth on the trampoline and 12th in tumbling,
In provincial C women’s tumbling Erika Blair was fifth and Tess McLachlin sixth. In provincial A competition McLachlin was second in DMT and 12th in trampoline with Blair 11th in both.