By Andrew Mitchell
Whistler’s Nicola Halliwell knew she was having a good day at the B.C. Gymnastics Championships, but was shocked to discover that her results — second on bars, third on beam, fourth on vault and 10 th on floor — were good enough to place first all around in the Provincial Level 2 Open category.
Although Halliwell has earned her share of medals in the past, and is regarded as hard working and consistent by her coaches, she said she was surprised to hear her name called at the medal ceremony.
“I kind of new what my scores were, but I definitely wasn’t expecting that,” she said. “I didn’t think I won, I was just trying to do my best.”
Competing mostly in regional competitions, she was interested to see other girls from around the province. “They were different, from a lot of different places, and they were definitely doing some harder skills. That’s why I was so surprised.”
But while some of the other kids had harder tricks, Nicola had consistency on her side. Girls winning the gold in one event were finding themselves in the teens in others.
Whistler has always been an underdog in gymnastics. Because the club doesn’t have a full-time facility yet, with coaches setting up and taking down equipment four nights a week, gymnasts have fewer days available to train, and fewer hours of training. They also don’t have a full-size spring floor to train on their floor exercises, or equipment like tumble tracks and foam pits to safely develop their skills.
Nicola’s father Dave Halliwell is heading up Whistler Gymnastics facility committee, and says things are progressing at the athletes’ village site. It will be 6,000 square feet in size, with a full spring floor, tumble track, foam pits, and space for trampoline training. The Resort Municipality of Whistler has budgeted $2 million for the project, while the club will be fundraising and applying for grants to equip the gym.
“The governance model is still being worked out, but it is our intention to run the (gymnastics) club as an independent entity in that building,” he said.
Dave believes that a full time facility will make it possible for other girls to win provincial championships in the future. “I think when people can do the work they can get the results, and this will let people do more work more effectively to get those results.”
As for his own daughter’s accomplishments in Kamloops, he couldn’t be happier.