A St. Albert gymnast is making a triumphant return trip to nationals after recharging his competitive batteries.
Graham Plomp stepped away from the sport that consumed his youth before rededicating himself to giving it another shot and was rewarded with a berth at next month’s championship in Ottawa.
“Last year I took four months or so off and it took a little while getting back into it,” said Plomp, 19, prior to Thursday’s training session at the Dynamyx Gymnastics Club of St. Albert. “I was doing it for eight years and I was kind of getting to the point where I was like, ‘Man, I really have been doing this for a while.’ But once I took some time off I started to realize that I don’t really know anything else and gymnastics is my passion. I just had to figure that out for myself.”
When asked if he is a better gymnast now, Plomp replied: “Yeah, 100 per cent actually,” he declared. “I feel like my mind is more into it and I’m looking at it with a more mature, positive perspective. I’m understanding how much more hard work inside and outside the gym I have to put into it, whether it’s my diet or jogging and when I’m here I’ve got to make sure I’m working all the time. When I’m stretching I’ve got to make sure I’m actually working hard and not goofing off.”
Plomp showed off his new form at provincials last weekend in the national open category and tied for second on parallel bars, shared fourth place on floor, placed fifth in vault and high bar and was sixth on pommel horse to finish sixth all-around.
“I felt I could’ve done a bit better in a few events. I made little mistakes that I’m kicking myself in the butt for but overall I made the top six so I’m happy with that, which got me onto the (provincial) team for nationals,” he said. “On vault I messed up my landing and I made a few little mistakes on rings but my p-bar routine was exceptional. It was a lot better than it usually is.”
Leading up to nationals for Plomp is westerns, starting Thursday in Winnipeg.
“The last time I went to a westerns, which I believe was two years ago, I did very good (in national open). I made finals in all my events and I got a couple of gold and I placed very well all-around,” said the first Dynamyx member in club history to bring home medals from westerns, gold on pommel and bronze on vault and parallel bars in the national youth category in 2010.
Plomp’s goal for his third nationals is to place as high as possible.
“I haven’t been there for a while but I hope to do the best that I can. I want to medal in at least one event hopefully. Ultimately, if I get in the top six overall that would be ideal, but I’m going to try my hardest and see how I do,” said the 13th place finisher on floor out of 60 national youth competitors in his 2009 national debut.
The five-foot-five and 135-pound gymnast is still trying to resharpen the skills he had before the layoff.
“I’m kind of back to where I was before so now I’ve just got to work on making everything a little more difficult piece by piece,” said the Paul Kane High School graduate.
“I definitely had some issues before with the high bar. It kind of declined so I quit because I was having a lot of difficulties with it. I’ve been trying to pick that up and now the high bar has become one of my best events. It was the same thing with rings but now I’ve started to work super hard on that too.”