It’s a month of milestones for Hayley Baker.
The veteran gymnast with the Duncan Dynamics turned 16 last Thursday, and this week she is in Ottawa competing at her first national championships.
Reaching nationals has been Baker’s goal since she started gymnastics 10 years ago, but she is going into the event with an open mind.
"I’m not really expecting anything," she said. "I’ll just do my best and see what I can achieve. This is my first time at nationals, so I’m just really happy I get to go."
To qualify for Team BC, Baker had to complete three trials, with the best two used for qualifying. She is the reigning provincial champion in vault, and is competing in Ottawa in that event as well as the other three elements: floor, beam and bars. Earlier this year, she finished fourth in vault in the National Stream Cup in Montreal, barely missing out on a bronze medal.
This is the second year that the Dynamics have sent a gymnast to nationals, following Micaylla Broadway’s appearance last year. It’s a big step for the club, according to head coach Olga Mataganova, who is thrilled to see Baker making the trip.
"I’m very proud of her," she said. "I’m happy she made it. She’s one of our best gymnasts."
Vault isn’t just Baker’s best event; it’s also her favourite.
"I like that I’m just really powerful, so it’s easy for me to do," she said. "It’s always been comfortable for me."
Baker’s big goals don’t stop with qualifying for nationals. She wants to be the first Dynamics gymnast to earn an NCAA scholarship, and will be touring colleges this summer.