A Langley gymnast has reached new heights after winning gold at nationals.
Sean Hylands, 16, is a student at Langley Secondary School and now a national champion after he won gold this past summer in double mini-trampoline, where the athlete is required to complete double flips as opposed to single.
“I found it quite neat being able to jump up and do all these flips because there’s a while you almost feel like you’re flying,” he said.
The Canadian Championships in Trampoline Gymnastics were held in Oshawa, Ont., in July, where Hylands saw his second national competition.
“It felt really nice to be able to do that especially since its only my second nationals – ever,” he said.
A sport that typically doesn’t get a lot of exposure was naturally introduced to him in a non-conventional way.
“The reason I got into trampoline was because of diving… I lacked the leg strength to actually do a whole lot so I joined trampoline to build up my strength,” he recalled of when he first started trampoline around the age of six or seven.
Hylands, who belongs to the Flip City Gymnastic Club in Langley, thought diving was too restrictive and was drawn to trampoline because he could attempt more complicated tricks, and he hasn’t looked back since.
“My goal with level six is ideally (to) win nationals again,” he said.
Trampoline is made up of eight levels. Once an athlete reaches level five, like Hylands, they qualify for nationals.
A double mini-trampoline routine is made up of 10 skills, Hylands noted. Each skill has a different level of difficulty assigned to it based on a point system, and a panel of judges also assesses your form and where you land on the trampoline.
“The more difficult the routine the higher your score is… but the harder it is to complete,” he said.
The toughest part of competition for Hylands is overcoming fear and mental fatigue.
“It’s actually what separates often the higher levels from the lower levels is who can overcome that fear to learn the new skills to move up,” he said. “You know physically you can, but mentally you’re stopping yourself and [mental blocks] are one of the hardest thing to get over.”
Unfortunately, Hylands said trampoline doesn’t get the same publicity as other sports.
“It doesn’t have a lot of exposure which makes it hard as well, because you have to keep feeding kids (into the program) to actually grow,” he said.
Although competitors at trampoline competitions are focused on winning, Hylands said the atmosphere is always supportive and encouraging.
“Trampoline is one of the friendliest sports out there because when it comes to support, you don’t just have your teammates’ support… but all the people from the other gyms,” he said.
Hylands is already thinking ahead to next year’s national competition where he hopes to duplicate his results as he competes in level six for the first time.