Brandon Eagles gymnast Isabela Onyshko has crossed the globe this year to face world-class competition and she’s about to take part in her biggest event yet.
On Wednesday, Onyshko, 16, was the youngest competitor named to Canada’s gymnastics team for the Commonwealth Games next month in Glasgow, Scotland.
Onyshko, who was born in Minnedosa and now lives in Brandon, is in her first season of senior competition after being a member of the junior national team, and she believes cracking the Commonwealth Games team is a major step in her development.
"It means a lot," she said. "It increases my confidence in my ability to compete against individuals like (Canadian teammates) Ellie Black and Victoria Moors, who have gone to the Olympics, and I guess it means a lot to go as a team to represent Canada on the world stage, instead of just as an individual to the World Cup."
Onyshko has taken part in two World Cup meets this season, winning medals on the floor in both: a silver in Croatia and a bronze in Qatar. She followed that up by claiming three medals at the national championships in Ottawa this month, including an all-around silver, gold on the beam and another silver on the floor.
Despite those credentials, she sweated out the days while she waited to find out her fate with the national team.
"It was sort of nerve wracking," she said. "It wasn’t as bad as thought. I tried not to think about it …
"I really felt like I did what I could and I did my best, and that’s really all I could have done. And then it was in the hands of the people who were deciding."
They decided that Onyshko was worthy of a spot on the team, which will make her the second member of the Eagles club to compete in a Commonwealth Games, following Jenna Kerbis, who was part of the Canadian entry in the 2006 Games in Melbourne, Australia.
Shortly before the Games, Onyshko will travel to London, Ont., to train with the Canadian team. At the Games, which run from July 23 to Aug. 3, she’ll be involved in an event larger in scope than any she’s ever seen, with 6,000 athletes from 70 countries competing in 17 sports. That kind of atmosphere will take some getting used to, but Onyshko believes it will benefit her in the long run as she continues to set her goals higher.
"I think it’s going to be really different because us gymnasts, we’re not very rah, rah before we compete," she said. "But then you’ll have other sports who will be super-excited. I think it will be hard to get used to that, but it will be helpful, probably, in the long run."