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Estevan gymnast excited to compete at Western Canadians

Lila Hale will compete in multiple disciplines while at Westerns, which run from April 18-20.
Lila Hale, middle, pictured after winning a gold medal in the vault, will represent Saskatchewan at the upcoming Western Canadian gymnastics event.

ESTEVAN - A member of the Estevan Gymnastics Club has been selected for Team Saskatchewan at the upcoming Western Canadian Championships.

Lila Hale will compete at the event in Langley, B.C., on April 18-20. She will compete in the vault, uneven bars, beam and floor exercise. According to a post on the Estevan Gymnastics Club's Facebook page, she is the first-ever member of the club to be picked for Westerns.

Hale started in gymnastics when she was six and is in her ninth year of competition. She has worked her way through the club, starting with recreational gymnastics, and then moving to pre-competitive and competitive levels. She is currently in Level 8 for the Canadian Competitive Program (CCP) for women's artistic gymnastics.

She qualified for Westerns after attending a trial in Regina in March. Hale had to finish in the top seven in her age group to advance to Westerns, which hosts CCP levels 8, 9 and 10.

Hale said she hopes to hit all of her routines and have fun while at Westerns.

"I think it will help me develop quite a bit since it's a great opportunity to meet people higher up in the gymnastics community and train with different coaches and athletes," she wrote in an email to the Mercury and SaskToday.

The Estevan Gymnastics Club allowed her to find her love for the sport from a young age. Some friends challenged her to be at her best and coaches supported her through everything.

Hale's mother, Jesse Mantei, pointed out that as a gymnast in Estevan, Hale trains 12 hours a week and travels to Regina two to four times per month to train for four hours each time at the Queen City Gymnastics Club.

Hale suffered a concussion and a shoulder injury at the beginning of the season in September, which stopped her from training for eight weeks. She was eventually allowed to resume partial training. She continued to have vision therapy for 20 weeks due to the concussion's impact on her eyesight. 

"She lost a lot of training time at the beginning of the season," Mantei said. "It was long and frustrating and she wasn't sure she'd be ready in time for the trial competition."

The Estevan Gymnastics Club purchased its current building in May 2019, and Mantei said this facility has given athletes the opportunity to grow. Gymnastics equipment takes up a lot of space. The club was previously located in the much smaller Doug Third building. 

"This new space offers more square footage to allow for more equipment to train higher-level skills," said Mantei. "Without this building, she never would have gotten to this point."

Hale said she likes the people she has met through the sport and the community of gymnasts is so supportive.

"We all work together as one big team," she said.