By Cindy Lam –
Graceful, strong, and ambitious – Cleo Page seems to be an ordinary 16-year-old, yet proves to be anything but. Recently chosen to be on the Gymnastics Canada Gymnastique (GCG) team, Page’s achievements are well beyond any teenager’s. A junior at Nepean High School, Page has the normal academic life of any regular student. Her life after school is a completely different story: four hours of practice after class, and 15 hours a week on average for the past five years. Unlike other students, Page cannot allow her schoolwork to affect her sleep cycle or diet; anything that would put her performance in jeopardy is a no-go.
When Page was three, her parents signed her up for artistic gymnastics at the Ottawa Gymnastics Center (OCG). By the age of nine, she made a decision to switch into rhythmic gymnastics, because she felt it was safer than the other styles of gymnastics and better suited her flexible body type.
Rhythmic gymnastics is an all-female sport that requires dance, endurance, strength, flexibility, music and performance – typically done with ribbons, hoops, balls and clubs. What Page loves about the sport is the grace and artistic expression that she gets to convey.
Under the training of OCG, she has won the level 6B just last year, and as well is a four-time provincial champion. Just after she won her first provincials, she received the “Athlete of the Year” award from the Ottawa Sport Awards. Her self discipline and training under her coaches has taught her perseverance, sportsmanship and time management.
The GCG governs the sport of gymnastics in Canada, and is composed of clubs and individual members. They have chosen Page for the national team and will be training her accordingly.
When Page found out about the news, she was honoured and surprised, especially since her competition included girls who get a lot more training. Excited by the once in a lifetime opportunity, she knows that she has a lot of training to do in order to catch up to the rest of the team.
Being chosen by the GCG has been a bittersweet opportunity that has required some great sacrifices. Page recently moved to Toronto in order to train. She and her mother rented an apartment to be near her new gym and school. Leaving her father and sister is difficult, says Page, as well as leaving Nepean and her friends, mid-semester, in her third year of high school. Page also parted ways with her current gym, the Ottawa Rhythmic Gymnastics Club (ORGC). The club has been a part of her life for the past eight years, and Page says leaving her coaches and teammates behind is hard.
Page has some great advice to young, aspiring gymnasts: “You never know where your hard work will take you,” she says. “Don’t compare yourself to other gymnasts or assume how judges will mark you. All you can do is your best and commit your time and effort to something you truly love.”
We wish her the best of luck in her future aspirations, with the hope that we will one day see her name internationally in the world of gymnastics.
Cindy Lam is a grade 12 student at Nepean High School.