It took some persistence for Paula Urquidi to convince her parents to sign her up for gymnastics. But that decision is now paying dividends.
Urquidi was eight years old when she attended a summer camp at Langley Gymnastics Foundation, and she has been a fixture in the sport ever since.
Last Monday (June 18), the soon-to-be 17-year-old (she celebrates a birthday this month) was recognized with the women’s artistic gymnastics JO (Junior Olympic) level 10 athlete of the year.
The award was one of several distributed to top LGF athletes at the gymnastics club’s year-end competitive athlete awards banquet held at Langley Events Centre.
Urquidi exemplifies LGF’s philosophy of “What I Believe, I Can Achieve” perfectly, explained Kris Krunick, the head coach of the club’s men’s artistic gymnastics club.
“Through her commitment and dedication to gymnastics, she worked her way through LGF’s programs, starting in the recreational program and provincial streams, to now being a national level medallist in the sport,” he added.
“A true role model that the LGF’s younger athletes can look up to.”
Prior to joining LGF, Urquidi had concentrated on swimming. And while she enjoyed swimming, she did not like the repetitive nature of the sport and gymnastics offered the variety Urquidi was craving.
“I liked the variety and the challenge. It was a fun change because you have four different events and there is always a new challenge and obstacle to overcome,” she explained.
Urquidi embraced the challenge of being a late-comer to competitive gymnastics.
“I just love the sport, I was drawn to it, so I wasn’t really scared by the other kids being better than me, that motivated me to do better,” she said.
She was quickly able to close the gap and has now competed in back-to-back years at the Canadian Gymnastics Championships. In 2017, Urquidi took bronze on the beam and this past season, it was another bronze medal, this time on the floor.
Her success on the national level comes as little surprise to Dumitru Avarvarei, LGF’s head coach of the women’s competitive program.
“She is such a strong, responsible and determined athlete, it’s no wonder she has been able to accomplish what she has, even though she started her gymnastics career later in life,” he said. “Paula is such an inspiration to all of our athletes and coaches at LGF, and she is living proof that love and determination are the keys to success.”
“It means the world to do well at nationals,” Urquidi said. “I have been working so hard and to do so well was something special.”
And as for winning one of her club’s top awards, Urquidi said that too has special significance.
“I have put a lot of time and dedication into gymnastics and I think every year I push myself harder to reach my goals, to improve and keep setting the bar higher for myself, so it means a lot to be recognized for what I achieved this year,” she said.
Three athletes in each MAG & WAG level are chosen to win the “Most Improved,” “Most Dedicated,” and the “Athlete of the Year” award.
The recipient of this award has demonstrated a significant increase in athletic ability and has moved up at least one level in gymnastics from the previous season.
Not only was there a noticeable increase in performance, placing well at competitions this year, but also a significant improvement in skill, ability, and attitude. This athlete continues to demonstrate motivation, initiative, and commitment to succeed and excel.
The “Most Dedicated” athlete achieved excellent attendance by rarely missing trainings. Working hard every training day and regularly attending and supporting club functions is what this athlete does.
Athlete of the year
Having great athletic ability and demonstrating positive leadership skills in and out of the gym are two very important characteristics of the Athlete of the Year. While always representing the gym in a positive manner, this athlete treats fellow teammates with great respect and is always receptive to their coaches’ feedback, displaying outstanding sportsmanship.
The recipient of this award has been a member of Langley Gymnastics for at least one year and enjoys participating in a variety of club activities.
Amanda Jack most inspirational athlete award
Amber Hildebrand was the 2018 receipient.
Amanda Lee Jack was born with Cystic Fibrosis on February 24th, 1983 and passed away at age 24 on July 4, 2007.
Along with daily therapy, she lived her life fully, socializing with family and friends, participating in athletics, education, employment, travel, charities, volunteering, and envisioning her next activity.
Gymnastics was one of Amanda’s favourite and also one of her most consistent activities.
She trained at Gem’s from 1994-1995, Langley Gymnastics from 1995-1998, Surrey Gymnastics from 1998-2000, and Langley Gymnastics again from 2000-2007. In the fall of 2006 she was training for the highest provincial level category, level 5.
Amanda was admired and loved by all of those who knew her. Her strongest characteristics were: determination to achieve, joyfulness, friendliness, and empathy. Amanda’s greatest attribute was inspiration. She truly inspired all those that had the good fortune to know her.
LGF has the privilege of selecting one athlete each year with an award in Amanda’s honour. The recipient of this award is an athlete who demonstrates pleasure in the small and big steps attempted and achieved. They also encourage all gymnasts with support & celebration in their attempts and achievements. The recipient also demonstrates joy in the special bond with the Langley Gymnastics community as a whole.
Christy Fraser bravest athlete award
Olivia Windbiel and Oliver Eisele were the 2018 recipients.
Christina Ann “Christy” Fraser was an avid gymnast until her tragic death on August 5th, 1992 at the young age of 12. Christy is remembered by all who knew her as a dedicated gymnast who possessed the ability to overcome adversity with a cheerful smile and a “try again” attitude. Upon her passing, a Memorial Fund was set up in Christy’s name.
This not only helped fund badly needed equipment for the Children’s Hospital, but the contributions also enabled Langley Gymnastics to acquire some of the equipment used by our athletes today.
The fund provides an award every year to the “bravest” athlete at the competitive athlete awards banquet.
The recipient of this award is an athlete who has overcome adversity in a cheerful manner during the current training year. They have also maintained a positive attitude as well as showing a tremendous amount of support and encouragement for their team members and other gymnasts. The recipient has furthermore demonstrated “courage” in dealing with adversity.
MEN’S ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS (MAG) AWARDS
Most Improved: Ben Fruitman
Most Dedicated: Hunter St. James
Athlete of the Year: Reuben Dykstra
Most Improved: Josiah Magnusson
Most Dedicated: Mateo Freig
Athlete of the Year: Nathan Dykstra
Most Improved: Parker Thomlinson
Most Dedicated: Blake Morfitt
Athlete of the Year: Trevor Ma
Most Improved: Aaron Michelle
Most Dedicated: Brandon Macdonald
Athlete of the Year: Victor Blaine
Most Improved: Patrick Knowles
Most Dedicated: Oliver Eisele
Athlete of the Year: Matthew Woznica
WOMEN’S ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS (WAG) AWARDS
JO LEVEL 3
Most Improved: Brooklyn Smith
Most Dedicated: Rhian Worton
Athlete of the Year: Sara Horie
JO LEVEL 4
Most Improved: Olivia Windle
Most Dedicated: Miya Dunn
Athlete of the Year: Emilya Golubeva
JO LEVEL 5
Most Improved: Sam Wright
Most Dedicated: Mateya Thibaudeau
Athlete of the Year: Nika Vanstone
JO LEVEL 6
Most Improved: Lily Fraser
Most Dedicated: Bailey Peterson
Athlete of the Year: Marley Gauthier
JO LEVEL 7
Most Improved: Gracie Belter
Most Dedicated: Solaya Slipec
Athlete of the Year: Milana Cherry
ASPIRE & HIGH PERFORMANCE
Most Improved: Kyla Macdonald
Athlete of the Year: Kennedy Duke
JO LEVEL 8
Most Improved: Ashley Chuka
Most Dedicated: Jina Walbourne & Charlotte Trotman
Athlete of the Year: Grace Hernberg & Brooke Miller
JO LEVEL 10
Most Improved: Haley Biggin
Most Dedicated: Cathy Zhong
Athlete of the Year: Paula Urquidi