Sydney Townsend is one step closer to fulfilling her dream.
The 13-year-old gymnast from Conestogo recently competed against other gymnasts in Elite Canada, for the first time as a junior athlete.
She placed sixth all-around and made three event finals — balance beam, floor exercise and fault — earning a bronze medal in her floor exercise and a silver in vault.
Immediately after the competition, Townsend was placed on the junior national team. She is currently ranked as the best Canadian female gymnast that was born in 1999.
It's taken a lot of hard work to get here.
Townsend practically lives at Revolution Gymnastics, where she trains under the tutelage of coach Aaron Brokenshire. Townsend is there every day after school from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., putting in 25 hours one week, and 27 the next.
Townsend has to leave school early every day to participate in this rigorous schedule, and often finds herself doing homework when she is eating supper.
"My teachers are good about it," said Townsend. "They give me the homework they are doing that day. If I miss a test, I'll stay in at break and do it."
Still, there's really only one thing that Townsend regrets about the high level of commitment that she has made to her sport — the fact that it's difficult to get together with her friends.
Still, results like the recent one from Elite Canada are enough to keep her going.
"I was really happy with how I did," said Townsend.
Brokenshire said that Townsend has two great strengths as a gymnast — the fact that she is a good all-round gymnast, and that she has a great attitude.
"If you put her in a cross-section of kids her age, you would see she is more focused, hard-working and driven," said Brokenshire. "At this level (of competition) they are all that way. They are all hard-working, driven and focused. Then it becomes who is the most determined."
Brokenshire said that Townsend is able to keep her focus, and is also able to bounce back quickly from mistakes, something else that is important.
"She takes things easily," said Brokenshire. "Her demeanour is bubbly and fun. I think that's going to help her longevity."
Townsend said she loves to learn new moves, and is really starting to enjoy the thrill of competition. She has her sights set on attending the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China, set for next year.
After that, her ultimate dream is to compete in the Olympics.
In the meantime, Townsend will continue her training with a more immediate goal in mind — faring well at the upcoming L'International Gymnix, representing Team Canada in the international event. Townsend is the youngest member of the junior national team.