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Gymnast doing cartwheels

Winnipegger May claims medal in India

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Winnipeg gymnast Gabrielle May has captured a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in India.

The 16-year-old is a member of Canada's women's gymnastics team, which won bronze in the team event on Tuesday. Australia took home the gold with 163.7 points, England was second with 158.2 and Canada finished third at 154.75. May performed in the vault, bars and floor disciplines.

May, a member of Winnipeg's Panthers Gymnastics club who has competed in international gymnastics competitions before, began gymnastics when she was five years old after she saw schoolmates doing cartwheels in a field.

The student at St. Vital's Collège Jeanne-Sauvé recently gave a speech at a Commonwealth Games send-off party at the Panthers gym, where she said perseverance and support from coaches and family have helped her achieve her dreams.

"Never in a million years have I imagined I would come this far," said a copy of May's speech posted online. "I believe that if you put your mind to it and never give up anything can happen. After all, I only wanted to learn how to do a cartwheel."

Manitoba Gymnastics Association executive director Kathy Stoesz said May is the only senior high-performance gymnast in the province right now, and trains 23 hours a week. Stoesz said the local gymnastics community is very proud of May's hard work and that she was able to help the Canadian team capture a medal.

Before May left for India, Stoesz said May told everyone she wanted to help boost the team's overall score so that they could capture a medal.

"She was looking to help her team place in the top three," she said. "She's definitely a success."

Robert Perschino has coached May for the past six years and said her hard work and "stubbornness" has helped her compete at this level. He said she reached her goal of helping the team land in the top three, and that May still has a chance of bringing home another medal.

Perschino said May will compete on Thursday in the vault final.

"I'm very happy with her performance," he said. "She has a good chance of medalling (on Thursday) if she's able to do what she's able to do."

May recently spoke to the Free Press from Delhi, India, where she said the Commonwealth Games compares favourably to other international competitions.

"This one is so much better. In the other competitions, it's just been gymnastics but this is my first Games experience and it's so great," May said recently.

 

-- with files from Postmedia News

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 6, 2010 C2

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