Life experiences like the Canada Games can produce some of the greatest memories in life, but the opportunity to make them with your best friends can be even sweeter.
That is exactly what Team P.E.I.’s men’s gymnastics squad will look to do this week in Red Deer, Alta.
As a group, the team trains close to 18 hours a week and spending that much time together has brought them close to one another. Leading by example are the two oldest athletes, Ian McKenna and Cameron Davis.
Davis, who was selected as Team P.E.I.’s opening ceremonies flag-bearer only began competing four years ago, simply because his best friend, Ian, pushed him to join the team. McKenna is team captain, and widely considered one of the top gymnasts in the province. The remaining team members, who are a number of years younger than Davis and McKenna, will be eligible for the next Games on home soil in 2023. The roster includes Ethan Arsenault, Josh Hammill, Gabriel Ing and Trent Quinn. Head coach C.J. Keliher is excited to lead this multi-talented group to a week they will never forget.
Training 18 hours a week can be a lot to manage while attending school and other extracurricular activities but balancing all of this with cystic fibrosis is what Davis does on a daily basis. When Davis isn’t training himself, he gives his time as a coach for the younger groups.
He defines what it means to be a stand-up young man. These qualities led to the honour of being named Team P.E.I.’s flag-bearer for the opening ceremonies and his teammates couldn’t have been prouder. Keliher talks about this kind of support being an everyday occurrence at training.
“I am so lucky to work with such a great group of guys. The support for each other, and the support from their families, is second to none,” he explained. “I am also very lucky to be a part of the process to not only see their success in gymnastics but watch them become outstanding people in life.”
Humble as he talks about his athletes, Keliher attended the Winter Games twice as an athlete in 1995 and 1999 and is well known for being a top-notch coach in the sport. The Island has been lucky to have a few coaches and administrators in gymnastics that have really taken the sport to new heights. A notable coach with the Island Gymnastics Academy is Jim Rand, who Keliher would have competed for in the past.
The group competed in several events in preparation for the Games. Jan. 12 marked the Dartmouth Titans Invitational and the weekend of Jan. 26 included training sessions with Nova Scotian athletes. It was there two judges, from P.E.I. and British Columbia, respectively, attended and critiqued the competitors. The feedback was valuable in that both judges will be officiating in Red Deer.
It was at the Prince Edward Classic, however, where Team P.E.I. had a strong boost of confidence as they defeated Newfoundland and Labrador at the competition. The two Island rivals are always competing with one another and on any given day the results could go one way or the other.
The athletes will look to take this momentum into Red Deer and hope to repeat this accomplishment on the national level.
For more information on Team P.E.I. and the Canada Games, stay tuned for our Countdown to the Games articles and be sure to follow Team P.E.I. on Facebook and Twitter.
A look at Team P.E.I.’s men’s gymnastics team for the Canada Games in Red Deer, Alta.
Coach C.J. Keliher
Manager Jeff MacRae
Jared Murphy is a sport co-ordinator with Sport P.E.I. and will be assistant chef de mission for Team P.E.I. during Week 2 of the 2019 Canada Games.