Former Olympian Camille Martens discovered Emmalee Holland rather by accident.
Since that meeting some five years ago, the two have done wondrous things with Vernon’s Okanagan Rhythmic Gymnastics Team, headed by Martens.
The team went big at the recent BC Provincial Championships at the Olympic Oval in Richmond with Holland recording major results as the BC Level 9 Senior Provincial champion. The smiling 16-year-old won gold medals in ball and ribbon, and silver medals in hoop and clubs. Holland, who also won the senior title at the Planet Rhythmics International 2018, was also the first recipient of the Monica Alde award, presented to the top senior athlete in B.C.
“I started in 2013,” said Holland. “Camille actually found me at my school (Silver Star Elementary) talent show and asked me to join her club. I was doing my tap routine.”
More than 250 athletes challenged for top placements with Holland drawing huge props from Martens:
“For many years, each young gymnast watches the older gymnasts in awe, wondering, ‘Will I ever be that fast? Will I ever be that expressive? Will I ever have those skills?,’” said Martens.
“It takes a very special athlete (and parents) to have the perseverance, determination and long sighted vision to see through the challenges and the hard moments from young ages all the way into the senior elite category. Then, rising to the top of that category is a whole journey of its own. Emmalee Holland has made that journey and is keeping the benefits.
”Today, Em is that girl who is inspiring all the aspiring athletes to rise, to conquer parts of themselves, to push through hard times and to become a champion. Congratulations Emmalee, you are a star.”
The 5-foot-6 Holland, daughter of Dennis and Tammy Holland, is pretty confident when she hits the floor.
“Probably my expression and my speed helps me out in competition,” she said, when asked about her strengths. “I usually feel nervous as I go on (the floor), but as my music goes on, I feel more comfortable.”
Holland, a 16-year-old, Grade 11 VSS student, leaves Tuesday for Winnipeg with Okanagan teammates for the Western Canadian Regional Championships and then heads to Toronto for the Koop Cup.
Okanagan Team highlights for National Levels: Junior (2003-04): Halle Moger earned a silver medal in hoop and finished fifth all around. Junior (2005): Elle Dockendorff had a fabulous competition. She won silver in the all around and in all four apparatus. Ashlyn Andreotti finished fifth in hoop and sixth all around.
National Novice: Madeline Sellars earned fifth place in clubs and eight all round. Isabella Haldane also competed, however was only a demonstration (hors concours – out of competition), as she is member of the Junior Canadian High-Performance Team Pool. She had a fantastic competition and executed very inspiring routines.
Provincial Levels: Level 3: Camille Hardy competed in her first provincial championships. She won a bronze medal in rope. Noelle Brierley won a silver medal in free routine and a bronze medal for her ball routine.
Level 4: Leni Szudek captured fourth place. Ava Macdougall also had a great weekend competing in her first ever provincials – she finished ninth in ball.
Level 5: Gracie Cox won a bronze in clubs and Vlada Puchkova had a six place finish in Ball. Zoe Plummer’s best finish was in hoop where she earned a fifth place.
Level 6: Sonia Ivanchikov won a bronze medal in hoop. Said coach Tammy Andreotti: “I am really proud of our girls and the work we have done. We are looking forward to the upcoming Western Canadian Regional Championships with this inspired group of athletes.”