Kaylie Choi, a 14 year old SPARTS student at Magee Secondary was named Junior Athlete of the Year at the Rhythmic Gymnastics National Championships held in Ottawa May 17-21, 2013. She was also the recipient of the Evelyn Koop trophy for all around Junior Elite champion.
"I had to bring the big trophy back home as a carry on. While I was walking through the airport, random people would come up to me and ask me what the trophy was for. After I told them, they would congratulate me. That was really nice," she said. "When I was going through security, the security people even took special care to put the trophy through the X-ray machine for me. That was kind of funny."
For Choi, the honour was the culmination of a journey that started back in Grade 2, when a classmate asked her to come to a gym.
She says she loved the sport right away and gradually spent more and more time at the discipline. Today, as a two time Junior National Team member, she trains at least 25 hours a week with additional ballet training.
Despite the gruelling training schedule, Choi says the win at the Nationals made it all worthwhile.
Choi and her fellow Aura Rhythmics team mates and Magee students, Annabelle Kovacs, Lisa Huh and Cindy Huh, recently jetted off to France where they competed in the Calais 2013 International Rhythmic Gymnastics Tournament.
"It's very exciting to go to international competitions but it can be very stressful. Before leaving for Calais, we had to finish writing all our final exams," says Choi. "When we came back, we had provincial exams to write. So we ended up studying on the plane."
This was not her first international assignment. In August 2012, Choi was part of the silver medal winning Canadian team at the Junior Pan American Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in Cordoba, Argentina.
Choi, Huh and Kovacs credit the leadership of their coach Kamena Petkova and plan to represent Canada later this year, in October 2013, at the Aeon Cup in Tokyo, Japan.