Gymnast must alter travel plans

GLEN DAWKINS -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:28 AM ET

Jenna Kerbis had it all planned out.

The 18-year-old from Brandon headed for last weekend's Gymnastics Canada Commonwealth Games Trials in Mississauga, Ont., hoping to get in a top-quality competition to help her prepare for the Canadian Championships in May. She simply wanted an opportunity to try out her new routines and didn't expect to earn one of the five spots on the Canadian team.

But it didn't quite work out as planned.

"We had a plan (of trying her new routines at smaller competitions for the experience) because we weren't expecting to make the team," said Kerbis, who rallied from a shaky performance on the first day to capture the fifth and final berth on the team for the Commonwealth Games, March 16-21 in Melbourne, Australia. "Now we have a new plan."

BASED ON POINT SYSTEM

Obviously, she'll take the change in plan.

Team selection was based on a point system which took into account apparatus and all-around rankings over the two days of competition with the first day worth 65% and the second 35%. Seventh after the first day, the Brandon Eagles gymnast was solid on vault and uneven bars but had slip-ups on the balance beam and floor exercises on the second day.

"I still made some mistakes on Sunday but I improved on enough things to get ahead of the other two girls," said Kerbis, from Seneca College in Toronto where she has been training with the rest of the Commonwealth Games team and her coach Lori Henderson.

"I came, I tried my hardest and if it just didn't work out, that's all right," she said. "But when the scores came out (after her final event) and I was fifth, I was very excited."

This year, Kerbis has focused all of her efforts on landing a spot on the national team. After earning a scholarship at Brigham Young University in Utah, the Crocus Plains grad deferred her entrance for a year to concentrate on training and gaining more international experience.

Her parents even took out a second mortgage on their home to help finance her training and travel expenses this year.

"I knew that I wanted to accomplish certain goals and that I was determined to do whatever it took to accomplish those goals," said Kerbis, who hopes to compete at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China.

Last month, she placed first at the WOGA International Invitational in Texas, winning the all-around title and finishing first in the balance beam and floor exercise events and second in the vault. She expects to face the same level of competition in Melbourne.

In preparation for the Commonwealth Games, Kerbis plans to work on making her routines more consistent and cleaner and work on her mental approach. What separates the champions from the contenders in gymnastics is the ability to overcome mistakes and not let them affect the rest of your routine.

"You have to make sure that if you have a small fall, you need to put it out of your mind (and carry on)," said Kerbis.


Videos

Photos