Jinayah Nelson

West Shore gymnasts get into the Finnish rhythm

Victoria Rhythmic Gymnastics club members meet the world next summer

Jinayah Nelson flicks her wrist, painting the air with a fluttering red ribbon.

The six-metre long fabric arcs over the 11 year old’s head like a rainbow, as she simultaneously kicks her left leg skyward and back to the ground. The young rhythmic gymnast resets for another try, as her mother, Tanya, looks on.

“Whether it’s my daughter, or one of the other girls … I am entranced every time I see it,” she said. “The joy they have keeps me watching every time. I go to every show, I go to everything; I just love it.”

Jinayah is one of 20 local gymnasts who qualified at the 2014 national championships in Calgary for next summer’s World Gymnaestrada 2015 in Helsinki, Finland.

Her club, Victoria Rhythmic Gymnastics, was the lone team in B.C. to qualify athletes for the event, running July 12 to 18. With more than 25,000 gymnasts from over 50 countries participating, the Gymnaestrada is one of the largest gymnastics events in the world.

“It is extremely exciting and very inspirational, it shows how gymnastics can link people all around the world,” said club coach Barbara Bishop. “It’s exciting to travel and learn about new places and help develop youth to (draw) greater inspiration from the world.”

Having completed the first step – qualifying for the event – the next one, Bishop said, is to raise enough money to send the all-female team to Finland. Ranging in age from 10 to 50, the athletes are looking to demonstrate skills they’ve developed through training three or four days and more than 10 hours a week.

“They are very excited and it’s self-funded, so they are working hard to fundraise and get donations to get us all there,” Bishop said. “It’s about $3,000 to $4,000 for each person to get there.”

Jinayah, a Grade 6 student at Lakewood elementary and a gymnast since she was four, is preparing herself physically and mentally for the trip of a lifetime, she said. She’s ready to take on the challenge of a string of bake sales, silent auctions, dance competitions and barbecues for the next six months to get there.

“I think it’s a really big opportunity to go and represent B.C and Canada,” she said. “It’s really cool how a little club from B.C. can (qualify).”

Every penny the team makes will go towards Finland so they can get there, she added.

The team’s next fundraising event and showcase happens tomorrow (Dec. 13), the 2014 Snowflake Rhythmic Gymnastics Performance and Invitational Competition. The event starts at 10:15 a.m. at Shoreline Community School at 2750 Shoreline Dr.  and admission is by donation.

For more information on Victoria Rhythmic Gymnastics and their fundraising, visit victoriarg.com.

alim@goldstreamgazette.com