In the past four years, Kyle Lapierre has gone from a guest at a birthday party at Gymzone Gymnastics to a national gold medallist on the trampoline.
The Sudbury Laurels Gymzone trampolinist took the top spot in the Men's Novice 15+ division at the 2012 Canadian Gymnastics Championships, held in Regina, Sask., last month, simultaneously becoming only the second northern Ontario gymnast to make that claim.
In 2009, fellow Sudbury Laurels gymnast Jordan Mulloy was crowned as the national champion in the same division. Apparently, he's a good teacher.
"When I first (joined gymnastics), Jordan was my coach," Lapierre said. "I really looked up to him because he was doing all the cool tricks and I wanted to be like him."
Apparently, Lapierre is a good study.
In just his third year on the competitive circuit, the young gymnast won the gold medal in his category at the provincial championship in April. One month later, he was named the best in Canada.
Lapierre said it feels "pretty good" to be a national champion, but admitted it wasn't something he was anticipating heading into the competition. In fact, his goal at the start of the season was just to qualify for the nationals.
As one of the youngest gymnasts in the 15+ age bracket, Lapierre said the competition was "nerve-wracking."
"When I first got there, I had no idea what to expect, so I was really nervous," he said. "And some of the guys were a lot bigger than me."
However, after placing second in the preliminary round, Lapierre refocused and set his sights on the gold medal.
Mission accomplished. He edged the second-place finisher by a mere 0.6 points.
Despite the 15-year-old's rapid progression on the trampoline over the past four years, his introduction into the sport came by pure happenstance.
"I came here for my cousin's birthday party and one of the coaches told me to join an extreme tricks week during the summer," the Grade 10 Notre-Dame student explained.
From there, Lapierre was encouraged to join the competitive program — a suggestion on which he quickly pounced.
After spending a year under the tutelage of Mulloy, Michelle Seanor, the competitive trampoline and men's team head coach with Sudbury Laurels, took over as Lapierre's coach.
She likened his ascension through the competitive ranks to "a lightning bolt."
"When Kyle spoke to the other guys that he competed with this year (at nationals), they've been competing for at least six years, so most of them have done double the time that he has," she said.
The coach attributed Lapierre's speedy success to a lack of fear, a high level of maturity and unwavering dedication.
"He's the type of kid who's good at everything he does," Seanor said. "If he decides to do something, he commits 125 per cent — he doesn't do anything halfway. I think he plays like eight different instruments, he does well in school — he's an all-around, very well-balanced athlete and person."
And she has high hopes for Lapierre over the next few years.
"I'd like to see him go senior, competing with the Olympians — I think that's his end goal, too," she said. "I'm really excited to go forward with him. This is another huge success for us and the club."
Lapierre plans to continue training full-time through the summer, working on more difficult routines as he prepares for the next level of competition.
Posted by Laurel Myers