At age eight, Vernon’s Camille Martens told her father she wanted to reach the Olympics as a rhythmic gymnast.
At 14, she was a Canadian junior champion. Two years later, she won a national senior title. She was a respectable 21st in all-around at the 1993 World Championships.
A year later, Martens pocketed six medals (gold for team and silver for the all-around and each event final) at the Commonwealth Games in Victoria.
She qualified for the ‘96 Olympics in Atlanta, where a late drop in the ball routine kept her out of the all-around final and left her a disappointing 33rd.
Since then, Martens has dedicated her life to teaching athletes at all levels.
“When I was 10 years old, I started to travel to Vancouver to get high-level training,” said Martens.
“By the time I was a teenager, because I had Olympic dreams, I was living, training and competing away from home. I promised myself then, that I would come home to Vernon to offer programs and training to athletes here.”
She founded the Okanagan Rhythmic Gymnastics club in 1998 and later also founded the Cirque Theatre Company.
Her centre on East Vernon Road has produced more Canadian regional medalists than any other and several of her students have represented Canada at world cups and other major international competitions.
She is putting extra focus this year on offering something for everybody.
“Now that we have clearly established our competitive level programs, our goal is to create something for everyone in our community. It’s really exciting to be working with artistic gymnastics high performance and introductory coaches, trampoline and tumbling coaches, ballet masters, fitness experts and circus performers/coaches to create a broader base.
“Our parent and tot classes for boys and girls ages 2-3 focuses on learning through play and exploration. Children will develop large and fine motor skills with a qualified instructor through learning the basic elements of gymnastics. This program is an excellent combination of music, dance and gymnastics. All you need is an active imagination and a happy heart.”
Preschool classes for boys and girls ages 3-5 strive to foster a love for physical activity through circus arts, rhythmic and artistic gymnastics. Qualified instructors will teach gymnastics in a dynamic, exciting and fun and very safe atmosphere.
The recreational program for boys and girls ages 5-12 is a well-rounded gymnastics program incorporating elements of artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics and circus skills taught in fun, upbeat, and inspirational classes.
“Using feedback and successful components of past years, we have incorporated a new badge program to enhance and grow our already well-received recreational program.
“The rainbow badge program is designed to help athletes easily track progress and learn to set and reach goals. Through this structure, each athlete will be recognized for their gymnastics achievements.”
Martens hopes to add adult programs and special needs classes in the future.
“The best thing about our club is the infectious love of sport, movement and art and the palpable joy that the kids and teachers share when working together. The outstanding teacher quality and care is also truly unique.”
Martens can be reached at (250) 558-3092.